Practical tips to help you communicate better at work
Posted on 25 August 2022
Effective communication at work is essential for harmony and success. Though much of this responsibility may lay with employers and line managers, everybody at every level plays a part. With collective and individual responsibility in mind, we can all influence better ways of communicating with everyone we encounter in the workplace.
Getting communication right is of course tricky, even for established businesses. Over the last few years, we’ve faced many changes to the way we work and communicate mainly through periods of lockdowns, social distancing and furlough. We are largely on the other side of these restrictions where some of the ways we work have likely changed forever. Hybrid working is on the rise, and recent data indicates it’s going to be the new normal for various industries. Naturally, we’ve all had to adapt to these changes and in this week’s blog, we’re sharing some advice to help you communicate better with your colleagues.
1. Should I say this?
Many of us are likely to have said something that we’ve later regretted. Hindsight is 20/20. It’s quite common and can serve as a lesson. When communicating with people both in and out of work, it’s wise to take a moment to consider whether you mean what you’re about to say. Once it’s out there, it can’t be unsaid and often the damage has been done. In extreme cases, the repercussions of saying something out of turn at work can result in disciplinary action or dismissal. By giving yourself time to reflect you protect yourself and those you care about. And if after some thought you find that you do want to have a difficult conversation, then plan and say it in the right way. Equally, for seemingly little questions, consider using a search engine to get a quick answer, some of our colleagues are busier than they let on. By seeking out an answer and solution you empower yourself to learn something new whilst not adding to a colleague’s workload.
2. What are you going to say and how?
Planning what you’d like to say or at least having a list of key points jotted down as a reminder will help you stay focused in the moment. It’s easy to get caught up talking about other things and walking away from a meeting/conversation without the answers you sought out in the first place. Have a plan, envision the outcome and goal you want to achieve through the discussion. Centre the message around the objective to make optimum use of time.
Deciding how you’re going to communicate is something most of us do on autopilot all day long. Perhaps you want to say something quickly, so you shoot your colleague a direct message on chat, or you walk over to their desk if you're at the same location. Perhaps email is your most used channel. For more serious discussions you may even book in some time to discuss over a video call or in-person meeting. Regardless of how you choose to communicate, what matters is taking the time to consider what you want to discuss and select the most appropriate communication method.
3. Am I being considerate?
This may be obvious, but it does deserve to be said. We are not always aware of the secret battles the people around us are facing, this applies to our colleagues. Choosing to be kind and respectful can make someone’s day. And when you have something, you’d like to discuss, the other person is more likely to be receptive and open when you’re nice and empathetic. Our colleagues are people too, with lives as rich and complex as our own and that means they’re not immune to bad or off days. How you approach people, and the tone and words you use are important. They impact whether your message will be received or accepted, and they can impact that person’s perception of you. Keep this in mind when communicating with people and consider other people’s communication styles as they may be different from your own.