Techniques for Effective Communication at Work
by Laurie Wilhelm
These days, the importance of communication is becoming greater. While we spend a lot of time and effort on the skills we need to do our job, such as accounting and finance skills, marketing skills, strategic development skills, improving communication at work requires strong interactive communication skills – and we don’t seem to put as much effort into these as we should to be effective.
Here are four communications skills to become more effective at work:
Organize Your Thoughts
Think about what it is you want to say before you say it. Sounds obvious, but how many times have you listened to a colleague tell you something and it took some time before you could understand his point? He probably thought he was crystal clear. Don’t make people have to sift through a bunch of words before uncovering what you’re really talking about and what it is that you want them to do.
This is especially important if you’re giving a presentation. Start with the end in mind: determine what it is that you want your audience to do or think then work backwards. Avoid getting into the nitty-gritty of your idea before making it relevant to them and their goals. If you want them to support your proposal, then make your idea important to them by outlining how they will benefit from it and why it’s in their best interest to back you.
Observe Those Around You
If you’re new to a company or department observe the workplace culture. Notice how everyone interacts with one another, how they respond, and how they approach others. It’s not that their particular workplace culture is the best one and couldn’t be improved upon, but it gives you a starting point to begin communicating effectively according to “how they do things.” Coming in with “your own way” may rub too many people the wrong way. See how they interact first then determine what is the best way for you to interact and bring in your own good interpersonal style.
If someone puts you on the spot and you’re not sure what so say, instead of feeling under pressure to say what first comes to mind, take some time to consider your response. It’s natural to want to answer right away and it takes some practice to stop and think about your response, but there are situations that require a bit more thought, at least in how you phrase your response.
Also, if you really are at a loss for a response because the question took you off guard, you can always say very politely, “I’d like to think about that and I’ll get back to you.” or simply, “Let me get back to you tomorrow about that once I’ve had a chance to consider it.” Rarely will anyone demand an immediate answer after hearing that response. And if they do, stick to your answer unless they give you a good reason that you absolutely must respond right now. Chances are, they can wait for an answer the next day.
Try to be aware of what your body is saying – you don’t want it to give yourself away. Learn, for example, how a confident stance feels and when you’re in a situation where you feel challenged and uncertain, take on that confident stance as you consider how to handle it.
This may sound weird, but try out the stance in front of a mirror a few times so you get used to how it feels and how it looks so you don’t have to think about what your body is saying while you’re trying to determine what you should say.
Incorporating these tips into your daily routine will assist you in becoming an effective communicator and will improve workplace communication.