Workplace communication is the means by which employees exchange information and ideas. Communicating effectively is a critical aspect of getting any job done, whether it occurs in-person or virtually, and is part of the internal communications efforts within an organization.
What do we mean by effective workplace communication?
The pandemic has introduced us to video calling and has propelled us to incorporate the same in our routine ongoings. Communication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other social media platforms are being readily used by authorized to send messages to their teams or individuals across organizations. Effective communication is a two-way street. Establishing context as the sender, and choosing the proper medium or channel can be critical. Effective communication should always have a context that forms the setting and necessity for the statement, idea, or question being shared. Setting includes any external circumstances like urgency, opinions, or culture.
A clear context leads to a clear message. The sender is another important aspect of effective communication. It’s the sender’s responsibility to encode the information or idea that they are trying to share so that it can be received.
How important is communication for the company
First and foremost, effective workplace communication builds and maintains relationships across the organization. Relationships are managed by the key interactions that take place every day. Virtual, work-from-home models have created a significant challenge for businesses in managing and building the relationships between their employees. Proper workplace communication increases productivity and creativity, and there are multiple reasons why a comprehensive communications management plan should be a part of corporate and business strategy. Effective workplace communication systems and models are key to solving the difficulties of virtual onboarding by creating an immersive platform and tiered engagement plan to onboard employees in a welcoming and gradual nature. During times of hardship, effective workplace environments help employees rally around their business leaders.
Effective Ways to communicate
- Attitude check: Words are only a piece of the communication puzzle. If your body language is poor, or you avoid eye contact, your coworkers may assume you’re not very interested in speaking to them. The same goes for paying more attention to your laptop or phone than the conversation at hand. To communicate more effectively at work, your first action involves checking your attitude. Approaching every conversation with openness and undivided attention enhances the quality of workplace communication.
- Invite other perspectives: Effective communication is bereft of any ego. If you can make a habit of actively seeking others’ opinions, the law of reciprocity suggests they’ll be more likely to respond just as favorably. To encourage participation from everyone, ask open-ended questions often, and make things like taking polls during team meetings a regular practice. Most importantly, embrace upward feedback.
- Tone of voice: The tone of voice is about how we sound and our vocal range. At all times we must moderate our pace (speed), pitch (volume), and Power (the affinity of communication). We must be able to modulate our voice to sound interesting and keep people engaged. Speaking in a monotone and using a very flat tone when speaking can make listeners fall asleep and not be fully involved in the conversation. We need to add flair to our tone in order to ensure people stay actively listening. This can be done by adding regular pauses and laying emphasis on the correct words. Using the right inflection and intonation is equally important to make your communication that much more effective. The variety in your voice will give the listener time to absorb and digest what is being said. Adding in highs and lows (inflection) so that our speech adds flavor and interest to what we are saying.
- Be direct and concise: Vagueness is a common problem in the workplace. Whether it comes straight from the CEO or occurs between co-workers, indirect and unclear communication can lead to misunderstandings and low morale. It’s especially problematic when the message is ‘bad’ or somehow undesirable. Instead of burying the essence of your message, lead with it. Share the bottom line first, then get into the details and answer questions. This is especially important for written communication at work, where being vague can result in mixed messages, and being long-winded can result in people skipping your message entirely.
- Content is king: One of the biggest communication blunders is not understanding your audience. To improve your communication at work, use your awareness of your audience to simplify and tailor your message. Identify the most important thing they need to know first and start from there.
- When in doubt, bounce it back: Misunderstandings at work are usually the byproduct of communication breakdowns. Sometimes it’s because one party is unclear and sometimes it’s because one person is apprehensive about asking for clarity. In most cases, it is a bit of both. To navigate uncertainty, it’s best to bounce the message back. When a boss or colleague says something you’re unsure about, repeat it back to them in your own words to make sure you’re on the same page or root out any misunderstandings on the spot.
Few final tips for effective workplace communication:
- Create a positive atmosphere
- Use technology to organize your communication channel
- Check-in with employees on a regular basis
- Offer positive feedback in public and constructive feedback in private
- Always assume positive intentions
- Take meeting notes
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