We all know that communication is an essential skill today, but it could be more important than many of us think. According to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, interpersonal communication is a top predictor of future workplace success. Not only that, how a person communicates is just as important as their personality, intelligence, and skill.
The nature of most types of work entails regular communication. Many of us meet people, send emails, make phone calls, and these days, log online for web meetings. Whether you land a client, deliver a winning pitch, or even make someone happy hinges on whether you communicate properly or not.
We use communication to meet our career objectives and personal goals. Without it, building trust, developing our reputation, and cultivating strong relationships with colleagues will be challenging. With that in mind, here are a few pointers that will help improve your workplace communication.
1. Know the right way to deliver a message
Thanks to smartphones and computers, there are many tools of communication at our disposal. But just the option is available to you doesn’t mean it’s the best way of doing things. You should be able to discern the most appropriate method of communication for a particular situation.
Face-to-face meetings are the preferred communication method, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all the time. Save it for something important, like when you need to talk to your boss or meet with a client. For official announcements that need to reach many people, use your office email or send out a memo. You can send a text message for informal or personal messages.
Make sure your phone is with you at all times. You want to have ready access to your messages, so you can make a call or type out a quick reply when the need arises. It also pays to know a phone repair shop for emergencies.
2. Know who you’re talking to
Communication isn’t just about what you want to say or how you say it. It’s also ensuring that your audience is receptive to your message. You need to consider your audience when crafting your message. Delivering a client pitch requires a different approach from giving a short talk to high school students.
You also have to think about how the information will be received. Let’s say you need to announce policy changes unpopular with some people in the office. You need to find a way to spin the message to make it more palatable. The words you use, your voice’s tone, and the content angle can determine whether people will be receptive to your message.
3. Simplify your message
Mark Twain once said that you shouldn’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word is just as effective. Many people like to inflate their vocabulary in hopes of sounding smarter and more sophisticated. However, it’s best to reduce the message to its simplest form to ensure everyone can understand it. If your readers or listeners have to consult a dictionary to understand what you’re saying, then you’ve failed at effective communication.
4. Practice your nonverbal communication
Always remember that your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures can be more revealing than your words. Nonverbal cues affect every aspect of communication, whether you’re talking to a colleague or giving a presentation. If your body doesn’t match what you’re saying, then your audience will be less receptive to your message.
A smart communicator practices what they want to say and how they say it in front of a mirror. That way, you’ll be able to see how your body moves when you communicate. You can then start practicing positive gestures and downplay negative ones.
5. Learn to listen
If all you do is talk and don’t listen, you’re announcing, not communicating. Communication goes both ways, and you and your audience must give and take when engaging in a conversation. Learn to listen to what they mean by what they say. That means you also need to show an interest in their message.
Active listening is a great way to keep a conversation going. Workplace communication only works if all parties are interested in what others have to say. Clarify when necessary, make notes, and ask questions to signal that you absorbed their message.
A final word
Effective communication is like a partner dance. It only works if both parties work in tandem to get their point across. Even if you’re interested in their message, if your audience isn’t putting their share of the work, nothing productive will happen. Remember these five tips the next time you need to communicate.