A successful company is all about having a great horizontal and vertical communications system. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and it is vital to ensure that all sectors are pulling their weight. The only way to do this is to have open and respectful workplace communication within and across departments. Being able to communicate effectively, whether it is through presentations or coffee room conversations, is a precious asset.
Advantages of effective workplace communication
In any workplace, teamwork is essential to getting tasks done sustainably. Therefore, it is necessary to foster teamwork among people with various skill sets and personalities. If everyone is to work to their full potential, they must feel valued and validated. Proper interpersonal communication can achieve this and ensure the team members feel enthusiastically collaborative.
Fostering teamwork doesn’t mean there will be no conflict whatsoever. But, should a dispute arise, effectively communicating those issues will lead to quicker and more effective conflict resolution.
Moreover, effective workplace communication will build trust within the team and turn the company into a well-oiled machine. It also encourages feedback, which minimises errors and increases efficiency.
Keys to effective workplace communication
(1) Know your workplace
You must be in tune with your workplace. You want to come across as formal and sophisticated in a traditional setting. In others, a more casual yet professional approach may be appropriate.
A lot of the time, we associate communication with talking. However, listening is an even more essential aspect of it. By listening and paying attention to your colleagues, you will make them feel heard and supported and make your point clear. Attentive listening will help you be more empathetic, which in turn builds trust. When you’re receiving feedback, instead of getting defensive about it, find the constructive in the criticism.
(3) Be precise
Being clear, firm, respectful, and straightforward are the hallmarks of good corporate communication. In any work environment, you must ensure you get your point across clearly and unambiguously without sounding glib or rude. Whether you’re a higher-up or an ordinary employee, it’s essential to know how to speak politely and diplomatically, not just within the company but with your clients as well. When it comes to presentations, don’t rush and babble; it makes you look flustered. No matter how excited or nervous you are, conceal it with confidence and poise. When a colleague or superior presents you with a task/problem, ask the right questions and effectively communicate your point of view.
(4) Mind the body language
Non-verbal communication is often automatic, but being self-aware and alert at all times helps you avoid being transparent. Just as important: understand the body/facial cues that others present and act accordingly.
(5) Be persuasive
Get people rooting for you by presenting your solutions in a manner that addresses their interests. Clients come in many shapes and sizes. Some are excellent to deal with, while others won’t make their payments on time and will ask you to go beyond your scope of work. Therefore, your interpersonal skills must be on point to avoid losing their business. Being able to persuade them to your way of thinking is vital at the beginning of the business relationship and throughout it.
She said, he said: workplace communication issues
Gender bias is real. And it’s not just about the pay gap. In everyday communications, where a man might be perceived as being authoritative, a woman is called “bossy”. It is common for employers to undermine female workers’ achievements and not give them due credit. The essential, invisible tasks they do keep the company running but do not warrant a promotion. Instead, employers continue to delegate jobs to them that reinforce gender roles, like getting coffee, organising parties, and writing up meeting minutes (making them just a passive part of the meeting).
Often, circumstances force them to vest their energy in tasks which leave them with little time and scope to participate in projects that may boost their career or make a lasting impression on the company. Suppose a woman raises her voice against these things or is highly ambitious. In that case, her employers see her as aggressive—a trait that would be rewarded in her male counterparts but is distasteful when it comes to her.
Navigating such an environment can be challenging. But it all comes down to communication. Telling your boss that organising that party does not fall within your job description, putting an inappropriate colleague in his place—the challenges are numerous and frustrating. Still, with the right tools, you can communicate your thoughts without hurting your career.
Tools to improve workplace communication
What constitutes appropriate workplace language is constantly evolving. One must be up-to-date so as not to sound uncouth or like a stick in the mud. However, fret not! There is no shortage of tools to help you master all kinds of communication, whether emails, verbal exchanges, video conferences, or presentations.
Most of us have come across Loe Whaley’s (@loewhaley) Virtual Work Bestie. She is a content creator posting on TikTok under the heading “How Do You Professionally Say”. These videos show that with the correct language, you can effectively communicate thoughts that, if spoken casually, would have negative connotations. There are also numerous accounts aimed at language (#businessenglish) and communication improvement (like @ko.communication, @vincentsanderson). These are helpful because, unlike self-help books, when the information comes in bite-sized reels, it sticks with you.
As communication platforms expand, keeping in touch with changing technical and technological aspects is essential, as would be necessary for presentations and online conferences. Udemy and other educational apps offer numerous courses to help you navigate these.
Wordtune is an excellent tool for rephrasing typed matter. At the same time, Grammarly ensures that grammar and spelling mistakes are a thing of the past. With a decent handle on the language, you can craft clear and professional emails and other documents.
Besides all these, don’t be afraid to learn from those more experienced than you. Communication is less a talent and more of a skill that you acquire and hone. So, the most effective way to improve workplace communication is to implement what you learn, pay attention, and practice.