Though the act of communication, whether through talk, text, or e-mail, may seem easy, communicating effectively requires a high level of attention and effort, particularly in the workplace. When working in teams, communicating well is crucial in order to eliminate misunderstandings and maintain a peaceful work environment. It is imperative that all team building activities and opportunities include discussions around how to cultivate strong communication among colleagues. But what can you do starting today to communicate more effectively? By utilizing the following 3 ways to facilitate communication in the workplace, your team will remain a cohesive unit equipped to complete projects, meet targets, and work productively.
Be a Good Listener
Throughout any given day, we each engage in a number of conversations. But just how closely are we listening? If you walk away from a conversation with a clearer idea of your dinner plans than your conversation partner’s message, you may need to fine-tune your listening skills.
Just like any other skill, listening takes practice. One way to improve your listening abilities is to keep a mental checklist of the important points the other person makes. When the conversation ends, try to recall as many of these points as possible. Engaging in each conversation this way will instill in you the ability to pay close attention and listen effectively so as to avoid repeat conversations or meetings.
Learn to Read Others’ Body Language
One of the most obvious ways we communicate with others is not through our words, but through our body language. How we stand, sit, move our hands, and express our faces all indicate how we’re feeling on the inside. By learning to recognize the signs and signals of body language, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively. Let’s use presentation giving as an example.
When standing in front of a room to share performance results or a personal anecdote, how do you know if you’re maintaining 100% engagement? If you find that your audience often displays the following signs, you likely have a disengaged group that needs revival:
- • Shoulders are slumped, or they’re sitting low in their chairs
- • They’re doodling on their notepads, instead of taking notes
- • Hands are fiddling with hair or clothing
- • Eyes are glazed, or gazing elsewhere around the room
- • Heads are facing downward, rarely looking up at the presenter
We all say a lot with our bodies, it’s up to you to recognize what others are trying to say.
Empathize with Others
Everyone has bad days. Whether the family dog ran away or your alarm was 30 minutes late going off in the morning, these stressors have a direct impact on our mood and ability to interact with others throughout the day. If you feel that you’ve been personally criticized or attacked unjustly by a coworker or boss, try to understand the full scope of the other’s feelings and situation before responding. It may be that they’re having an unusually bad day, and as a result taking their emotions out on others as a way to cope. Responding with equal negative emotion will only result in a further breakdown of communication. When tension has lessoned and the other person has calmed down, reach out to your coworker and revisit their criticism. You may find that their overreaction had nothing to do with your work at all.