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5 Effective Ways
to Improve Communication at Work
Poor communication is responsible for many big business failures. Whether we examine Nokia’s inability to keep up to date with smartphones, or BP’s oil leak PR disaster, there are many examples that demonstrate how important it is to have effective communication in the workplace.
This premise doesn’t necessarily only apply to big business either – companies and organisations of any size, structure and sector require effective communication channels to ensure they remain successful. After all, without good communication, businesses wouldn’t be able to form authentic relationships, generate out-of-the-box ideas, or overcome particular challenges. In essence, communication really is at the heart of everything a business does.
With this in mind, there are a number of things you can do to improve your communication at work. From small personal changes to simple office alterations, read on below to discover the five key things you could be doing differently.
1. Create a communication-friendly space.
Even the smallest of changes can make the biggest difference. Making your space at work communication-friendly will encourage others to approach you to discuss their ideas and work-related issues.
Generally speaking, the most efficient teams tend to be those which promote a clear and consistent flow of communication. To encourage this at your own workplace, it’s up to each individual employee to lead by example. Ask questions, challenge ideas, tell people how you feel – by starting conversations with others, you will help demonstrate how open to communicating you are.
Oh, and also, if you’re lucky enough to have your own office, keep your door open. It sends completely the wrong message if you have your door slammed shut at all times during the working day.
2. Ask for employee feedback.
Let’s face it, nobody is perfect – we all get things wrong from time to time.
While admitting this to ourselves is much easier said than done, it’s very important to do – and especially at work. Nobody enjoys receiving negative feedback but, for the sake of a business’ success, sometimes you simply have to hear it. Otherwise, you could end up shooting yourself and your business in the foot.
If you’re an employer, ask your staff for their opinions on your particular work-related processes and systems. Alternatively, if you’re an employee, tell your manager what you think could be done differently to solve potential issues that you feel may have gone unnoticed. While they may not thank you for it straight away, if it goes towards helping streamline the business’ systems, that can only be a good thing. Never be afraid to speak up.
3. Communicate face-to-face.
In today’s age of technology, it’s all too easy to communicate with one another online rather than in person.
While tools like Slack and email may be highly efficient means of communication, it’s important to remember the value that communicating face-to-face can have in terms of sincerity and authenticity.
A major aspect of communicating effectively comes through human interaction, as body language can say a lot about how somebody is feeling. Therefore, rather than typing an email out to somebody you work six-feet away from, why not go and speak to them instead? Whatever you need to talk to them about will resonate a lot more if you speak to them in-person rather than online.
Taking the time to listen to your fellow employees is one of the easiest and most effective ways of improving your communication skills.
Some people take a lot more time to open up than others, so you should always give them the freedom to talk when they’re ready and explain how they feel.
Also, when they do open up to you, try to reflect their emotions as they’re talking; if they are smiling, laughing or showing concern as they talk, try and do the same. This will demonstrate to them that you are actively listening and truly engaging with what they are telling you, which will make them feel more comfortable with the situation.
Likewise, make sure that you are always present in the conversation. The last thing you want is to come across as rude by feigning interest or playing on your phone while someone is talking to you. Focus on the person you’re having a conversation with and try not to get too distracted by other external factors.
5. Think about team building.
Not everyone enjoys participating in group discussions, so team building exercises can be a great way of encouraging communication.
Whether it be a group day out, a team lunch, a quick drink down the pub, or a simple 10-minute icebreaker game, getting to know each other outside the confines of the office helps form and sustain relationships both in and outside of the workplace. This, as a result, will help staff feel much more comfortable when it comes to sharing ideas with one another.
So, there you have it – from simply making more effort to listen to your staff, to utilising a range of team building exercises, here are the five most effective ways of improving communication at work, to get the best out of your staff.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to put your staff first. In order to get the best out of your employees, it’s imperative they feel valued and comfortable enough to approach you with any potential issues they might be having. By taking the time to listen to them face-to-face, you can not only build a rapport with that member of staff, you’ll also create a much more comfortable working environment for them.
This, in turn, will make your employees feel happier, encouraging an increase in their levels of working productivity and efficiency. Plus, creating this type of working environment should also make business-related decisions easier to identify and implement; by asking staff for their feedback on particular issues, they can provide useful suggestions that will both improve their personal attitude towards work and streamline the processes involved.
About the Author
Dakota Murphey is a writer based in Brighton, specialising in new business startups and the interpersonal relationships that exist both between employees and clients.
Having written for numerous online and print authorities, Dakota has been published on a wide range of business topics, utilising psychology in the workplace, and how to build long-lasting relationships in all aspects of the working and personal life.