Just as communication in private life plays a key role for a harmonious being together, it plays an important role in the workplace for a pleasant working atmosphere and a productive and effective way of working. The fact is, however, that it can be quite challenging and difficult to communicate properly and always find an appropriate tone. It is not uncommon for misunderstandings or conflicts to arise at work - due to poor communication skills on the part of managers or employees.
That's why we at Sparrks have put a lot of thought into the topic of "communication at work" and have put together some tips for you, which you can use to work on your own communication skills.
1. Establish an open and honest culture of conversation
It is of utmost importance that both employees and managers of a company deal honestly with each other. Because rarely is anything more toxic for the working atmosphere than blasphemy, intrigue or bullying. This kind of behavior is by no means morally justifiable, and it also massively reduces the productivity and effectiveness of the entire team.
For productive cooperation and a pleasant working atmosphere, care should therefore be taken to ensure that problems are addressed directly. Only then is there a chance that they can be clarified and resolved without them escalating into major conflicts.
It is crucial having an open attitude toward colleagues' opinions and contributions. These should be heard and recognized as constructive contributions and possible solutions. That is the only way proposed solutions and contributions can mutually stimulate and complement each other. If, on the other hand, people only insist on their point of view, a great deal of creativity and innovative strength is lost.
2. Express yourself clearly and concisely
Conflicts often do not arise because of a bad intention or the will to deliberately create an argument situation. Instead, conflicts usually arise when information has not been communicated clearly and unambiguously and/or a careless tone has been chosen. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to clear formulations in face-to-face conversations as well as on the phone or by email.
In addition, sufficient time should be taken for discussions, especially for complicated topics. This is because it is important that space is provided for any queries and their answers in order to avoid confusion.
Conversations in the coffee kitchen should not be neglected at this point. Even though these may be more "private" conversations, care should still be taken to use the correct form of expression. Always avoid hiding a message "between the lines" by using empty words or a sarcastic tone. This intensifies conflicts instead of resolving them.
When communicating via chat or email, special attention must be paid to clear wording. Because of the lack of facial expressions and gestures, written communication carries the risk that words will be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
3. Ask for feedback
The way you communicate can have a big impact on your employees, for better or worse - that´s a fact. Yet few ask for feedback specifically on your communication style. However, such feedback can be very helpful. This is especially true considering the fact that you can never perceive yourself from the outside and are therefore often unaware of your effect on others.
The outside perspective you get from feedback can help you uncover aspects of your communication style that need improvement. You can then actively work on these and improve your communication in the workplace.
One good example of successfully implementing feedback to improve communication in the workplace is the 360-degree feedback process. This process involves gaining feedback from various sources, including peers, managers, and subordinates. That feedback is usually anonymous, enabling employees to be honest and provide candid feedback on the individual's communication style. After collecting the feedback, the individual should review the responses and identify common themes, areas of improvement, and strengths. Based on the feedback received, the individual can make the necessary changes in their communication style to improve their interactions with others.
4. If possible, have face-to-face conversations
Today's multitude of messenger services as well as email programs make it easier to get a message across to employees quickly. In many situations, this quick correspondence is very useful and effective. However, there are also situations in which it is advisable to seek out a real, face-to-face conversation.
This is especially true when a difficult or completely unpleasant topic is to be discussed. Because finding the right tone through written communication channels is often difficult and offers great room for (mis)interpretation. This is less the case in personal conversations in private, in which you have your mimic and gesture to support to convey your concern. Finally, so many misunderstandings can be avoided.
In the words of the entrepreneur and businesswoman Patricia Bright:
Face-to-face communication is important because it allows for personal connections and relationship building that technology simply cannot replace. The ability to read body language, tone, and facial expressions all help to enhance communication and build trust between colleagues, leading to better collaboration and overall success in the workplace.
5. Pay attention to nonverbal signals
When it comes to the topic of communication, most people think of spoken words. Paying attention to these is, of course, very important. Nevertheless, attention should also be paid to the non-verbal signals that one sends out. Our body language including our mimic and gestures, determine not insignificantly how a spoken message is perceived and interpreted by employees.
Therefore, be aware of how your body language has looked in previous conversations. In future conversations, you should then make sure you always maintain eye contact with your conversation partners and that you do not fold your arms in front of your body. It is also important that you maintain an appropriate distance from other participants and, even if it sounds trivial, that you smile and appear friendly and interested.
6. Make use of business coaching for better communication at work
Some people seem to be born with rhetorical skills and a good communication style. Others have painstakingly acquired the same through years of professional experience. To shorten this laborious path and to achieve faster results, business coaching can be of great advantage.
Implementing business coaching can be a powerful tool for improving workplace communication. Coaches can provide an objective perspective on communication dynamics, helping team members to identify communication barriers and gaps. They can also teach communication techniques and skills tailored to unique needs. That can result in better collaboration, enhanced trust, and an overall improvement in business performance. By fostering a culture of communication, business coaching can also help to reduce conflicts, stress levels and support the professional development of team members.
At Sparrks, we know how difficult it can be if you want to refine your own communication style by yourself. After all, you can't perceive yourself from the outside and therefore often don't know how you actually affect others. Our Sparrks Coaching sessions specifically on the topics of "communication" can help you mirror your own communication style and subsequently work on the same. Our coachees achieve fast and sustainable results.
More on the topic of conflicts in the workplace
- Dealing with conflicts in the workplace (Willem Lammers)
- Conflicts in the workplace (Öffentliches Gesundheitsportal Österreichs)
- Mobbing and conflicts at the workplace-Consequences for the persons concerned, the companies, and the national economy
FAQ: Tips for effective communication at work
What is manipulative communication?
Manipulative communication, as a communication style, involves lying and cunningness, non-effective in reaching team goals but effective in calming down a fuming customer.
Which communication style is the healthiest?
The healthiest communication style is assertive communication. Assertive communicators are clear, calm, determined, active, and believers in compromise. Their communication style is a compromise or balance between aggressive and passive communication.
What are the golden rules for communication?
The golden rules of communication include being attentive, listening, asserting understanding, avoiding quick judgments, and staying silent effectively.