According to a Watson Wyatt study, companies that communicate the most effectively are 50% more likely to report low turnover levels compared with the industry average. A while back, the ability to communicate well was viewed as a “soft” skill that was nice to have, but could be considered unnecessary. In today’s rapidly changing business climate, it’s a mandatory requirement for everyone, from top level executives to the people on the shop floor. Good communication aids clear understanding between workers and it’s a great foundation for collective success.
1. Break the Ice
Being in a new environment can bring a lot of overwhelming mixed feelings. You sometimes feel out of place, not knowing who to talk to. Figuring out your new role can be a lot to deal with. Also trying to understand and fit into the new organisation can be tasking as well because there are a lot of things you just don’t know. It would be great if older colleagues or the employer, made it a priority to help the newbies feel welcome and comfortable, establishing a platonic rapport outside work and trying to initiate them to the company’s existing social practices. Maybe a board game of monopoly or scrabble that is usually played after work hours or an office poker game. Treating the new employees to lunch wouldn’t be a bad idea to, other colleagues can come along so the newbies don’t feel on the spot. Get to know them beyond their curriculum vitae. Establishing a great foundation with them from the onset goes a long way in enhancing effective communication.
For me, my first day at Devcenter was really cool because everyone was so warm and jovial. At lunch, a colleague paid for my meal and even carried it in her bag as we walked back to the office. At closing time, my direct superior who happens to live along my route offered to share an Uber ride with me and also paid. It was really sweet of them because they didn’t have to. There are so many other examples I can’t share here.
During meetings or conversations, people appreciate talking to someone who pays attention to them. Imagine having a discussion with someone and all they do is smile at their mobile phone or are busy talking to someone else, it dampens morale. Give your undivided attention and show that you’re interested in what the person has to say. Even if you’re the CEO talking to the janitor, you should try not to seem rude or condescending. Lack of focus devalues the conversation causing people to tune out. Maintaining eye contact with other parties during conversations and meetings is very important. Putting other things you might be doing aside helps, the meeting can only last for a period of time.
This is just as important as making your point. Remember, communication is an exchange of information. As much as you want to get a lot of points out, remember to give room for others to speak. A monopolized conversation is an unproductive one, since you’re not scolding anybody, let others talk. Two heads are really better than one, you should avoid making it a speech and make it participatory. By pausing in between points to allow questions, comments or opinions, others can play an active role. You never know who has the great idea.
Have you heard the saying “Actions speak louder than Words”? This is not debatable. The simplest actions such as a wave of the hand in a particular manner can mean something which wasn’t intended. When you want to have a conversation, maintain a calm or relaxed posture because it conveys your intentions better. For example, folding your arms or frowning your face can come off as defensive or unapproachable. If that’s not the intention, it can be misunderstood.Be careful with your mannerisms as body languages are read and heard faster than speeches, especially as an employer. It is advisable to rest your arms rather than crossing them on your chest and maintain a level pitch or tone.There’s really no need to raise your voice. If possible, wear a smile because it won’t hurt. Also, nod when necessary and don’t forget to make eye contact.
5. Take Notes
During important conversations at work, a lot will be said and understood but some may be forgotten. It’s important to have notes written but if you can’t take notes yourself, assign someone to jot down cogent points on issues that were raised, solutions that were suggested etc. After meetings, send participants short notes as a reminder and will keep the information fresh in their minds.
6. Don’t Assume
Misconceptions and Misinterpretations are huge barriers when it comes to effective communication in the workplace. If you aren’t comfortable with (or do not like) something, be bold enough to reach out to the person (or people) involved and ask about it. Many times, things aren’t what they seem and often, people judge based on what they heard or think they saw or understood. Disputes or conflicts could arise from such situations, many of which might not even be work related but if not well managed, can hinder communication and ultimately workflow, speed, and efficiency.
Sometimes, the personal affects the professional because people cannot always separate their feelings and emotional baggage from work. This is part of work ethics, which should be noted but having someone to talk to about it and actually listen to you helps. They say “a problem shared is a problem half-solved”. It is important to check on your colleagues and employees from time to time and be genuinely interested in their welfare beyond work. It’s in everyone’s best interest, including yours because you are a team. Equally, find out how they cope with work and if they are able to balance it with life. If they share their problems with you, empathize with them. You may not be able to solve the problems but just showing that you care goes a long way. The importance of empathy has been so underrated but you should read what Celestine Omin has to say about empathy at the workplace.
An open communication environment is one in which all members of the organization feel free to share feedback, ideas and even criticism at every level. However, it is important to note that changes and adjustments may not occur instantaneously. If all parties work together, communication at the workplace can only get better. Leaders and their subordinates who are committed to open communication build an environment of trust that can be the foundation for success.