Here a few ways to improve your communication style at work, that may also be helpful for your personal life, illustrated with some fun animal pictures.
Step 1: Be Direct AND Nice.
Bark and wag your tail. Most people appreciate the value of being direct, but miss the message because they are consciously or subconsciously offended by the delivery. It seems obvious, but many people don’t consider the outcome or repercussions of what they say and how it will affect the receiver. If you fail to deliver your cues and criticisms in a way that is easily digestible, then you may do more harm than help. Consider how important tact is in business-to-business negotiations, treat your co-workers with the same respect. Even if you are working on something like a netxuc.com web collaboration and you aren’t in the same room, it’s important to appear engaged, interested, and direct, without being pushy or rude.
Step 2: Ask Questions and Donât Assume You Already Know It All.
Even if you are an expert in your field, you can always learn more. Do you find yourself really listening to what others are saying when they are giving you information or do you find yourself waiting to speak? Dominating every conversation is a an unattractive quality and devalues your credibility, even if you are an expert on a given topic. People like to feel like they are in a reciprocal conversation, so talk with people, not at them. When you meet new people, do you talk about yourself or do you learn who they are? If you’re talking, you’re not learning.
Step 3: Proofread Your Emails.
Everyone is busy and we’ve come to accept a certain number of goofs with grammar and syntax, but don’t underestimate the importance of double-checking your missives before you hit the send button. Though mistyping on your smartphone can lead to many auto-correction inspired fits of laughter, it can also erode your authority if you constantly misspell or use a poor choice of words in your messages, despite the widespread acceptance of casual errors.
Step 4: Embrace Technology.
If all of your coworkers are using various platforms to communicate, i.e. text messages, Google chat, Twitter, etc., don’t be the hold-out. Participating in technological platforms for communication not only makes sense from a productivity standpoint, it also creates the perfunctory benefit of camaraderie between employees who are able to use these tools as a way to promote community and thus a stronger work environment. Click here to see how online conferencing can help you accomplish work in a day that might normally take three.
Step 5: Pay Attention to Social Cues and Body Language.
Do people back away from you as you speak? That’s a bad sign. Either your coworker is very busy and needs to get back to working on an important project, you have bad breath, or that person is not interested in talking with you. Either way, you are expected to pick up on social cues even if no one ever taught you to. It’s easy to tell when people are engaged with you and interested in what you are saying, do the same for them. Focus your attention on the person talking with you. Try not to look around to see who else is in the room or get distracted by the bird outside the window. It makes people feel important when you give them your focus and if you expect that from others, you should certainly put it into practice yourself. How can you become more socially adept? Find someone who is good with people and try to study what makes them a charmer? How do they talk to people? Are they interesting to listen to? Do they dominate or simply participate? What does their body language say? If you want to be a better communicator, you have to first admit that your communication skills have some flaws. The good news is that you can always remedy the issue if you are willing to change your behaviors.
Step 6: Donât Give Advice Unless You Are Asked for It.
Most of the time people just need an ear. If a co-worker has an issue that they are discussing with you, first decide if they are talking with you to get your input or if they are just sharing to make sense of the problem. Giving advice to people who are not looking for it is always difficult, but if you take the opportunity to be supportive, you’ll have a better chance at building trust and respect. Afterall, it’s not your problem to solve, so unless someone explicitly asks for your advice, don’t push it on them.
Step 7: Donât Make It About You.
Though it’s difficult not to take some things personally most of the time it’s just not about you. If a business partner isn’t returning your calls or emails, you will be a happier person if you assume it has nothing to do with you. It’s a very human tendency to assume that if an interaction isn’t going as we expect it to that we must take responsibility for it, even if it’s completely out of our control. You can worry yourself mad wondering why someone isn’t getting back to you, but don’t. You’ll find out eventually what is going on and you don’t want to harass your business buddy by nagging in the interim. In the case that it is about you, they’ll tell you that too. You could easily ruin your business relationships by demanding that someone bend to your communication style. You can check in, but don’t attack. Don’t send them Tweets, emails, text messages, and post a message on their Facebook wall. If you make it okay for people to get back to you as soon as they can, then they will. If you insist that they talk with you before they are ready, you could easily damage the relationship.