8 Tips to Improve Your Workplace Communication Skills
by Guy Farmer
Have you ever endured a long conversation where someone spent the whole time talking at you? Have you ever done the same thing? We’ve been conditioned to believe that we need to talk a lot and fill up all the free space in the universe with noise in order to demonstrate competence or credibility. This encourages people to talk a lot, keep talking and then talk some more at all times. We end up in frantic conversations that are complete traffic jams of people all trying to outdo each other with bigger and better stories and facts.
Effective communication isn’t about talking, it’s about exchanging information so that everyone gets something valuable out of the conversation. We’ve all interacted with people who love with the sound of their voice and rarely let us speak. There are many reasons for this type of behavior but the main one is that they don’t know any other way to communicate and just don’t realize they’re doing it. What they might not understand is that communication is over 90% non-verbal, which means that talking is just a small part of what would get them better results.
Excellent communication in the workplace begins with us. We each have the ability to either encourage a two-way exchange of information or slam the door in someone’s face. We can choose whether we spend our time spitting out our stories rather than gaining more insight into others’ experiences. Think about your own communication style: Do you talk more or do you listen more? What would happen if you shifted your style just slightly?
Highly effective communicators understand that getting their point across is often as much about understanding someone else’s perspective as it is putting one’s own input into the mix. Here are some tips to help you fine-tune your communication skills:
- Listen more than you talk.
- Ask open-ended questions to get more information and listen to the answers.
- Stay away from questions that lead the conversation in a certain direction or only lead to a yes or no answer.
- Try not to think of the next thing that you want to say.
- Avoid thinking about the perfect rebuttal or your next fantastic anecdote.
- Allow people to say what they want and give them the space to do so.
- Learn how to listen actively. Search online under “active listening” to learn how to do it.
- Did I mention listening?
We spend so much time running our mouths that we ignore the most important element of effective communication: listening. It’s incredible what we can learn when we take the time to really listen to someone carefully. We understand them better and can make decisions based on deeper, more detailed information. We avoid misunderstandings and we connect with people on a more significant level. People also trust us more because they can confide in us and tell us whats important to them.
It’s always up to us how we communicate in the workplace. Excellent communicators understand the value of listening and use it to create happier workplaces. Listening improves our interactions and allows us to relax more often. We don’t have to fill up every space and constantly think of brilliant things to say and we get to learn all kinds of cool things about others. Try the ideas we’ve mentioned here and you’ll begin the process of building excellent communication skills.