Communication is a vital part of the workplace. It’s how we share information, collaborate, solve problems and manage change. Communication helps us build trust and relationships—and it can be a tool for empowerment.
That’s why effective communication is essential to any organisation that wants to grow, innovate and succeed in today’s competitive economy. However, the problem is that many common workplace communication mistakes lead teams astray—and they’re easy to make in day-to-day interactions between colleagues (or even when sending an email).
Below, we’ll look at ten ways you can improve how you communicate offline or online to increase productivity and engagement among employees.
awareness about Audience
One of the most common workplace communication mistakes is addressing the wrong audience. This mistake can happen for several reasons:
- You neglect to check who should be involved in the communication.
- You simply hit “reply-all.”
- You assume everyone is in the same time zone.
Another way this mistake happens is when you’re sending an email or a message to one person but accidentally send it to multiple people because of an autofill feature on your smartphone or computer (for example, if someone has multiple emails set up under his name).
While you can ensure you address the correct audience by checking the fields you fill, sometimes taking things back to basics is easier. For example, make it a habit to address your recipient by name.
right communication tools
The best way to avoid communication problems is by using the right communication tool for the job. Use an easy tool, like email or text messaging, when you need an informal back-and-forth conversation with a co-worker about something quick and straightforward.
If you need more information or want to get someone else involved in the conversation, use an app like Slack or HipChat instead – but don’t waste time typing out long emails when better options are available.
Whatever tools you decide to use, remember that security should be an essential consideration. That’s especially true for organisations with lots of remote workers who may need various tools/channels to stay in touch.
You can’t just write out a conversation or send emails anymore. Staring at massive chunks of text can be tedious and result in recipients switching off before they read the contents. Thankfully, technology is advanced enough to support rich communications.
Communicate with teammates in rich format, including video, audio, graphics, and images. You can bring office communication to life with a vivid, colorful chart instead of rows of data.
For remote workers, communicating via a video stream meeting also serves the purpose of staying closer in touch with teammates. That can play a vital part in fostering better relationships for out-of-office workers.
Whether you’re talking to one person or hundreds of people, it’s essential to be aware of what is happening. If you under-communicate, your team may get confused about priorities and responsibilities. If you over-communicate, your team might become discouraged by unnecessary work or overwhelmed by too many meetings and updates.
To avoid these common workplace communication pitfalls:
- Keep communications short, clear, and to the point.
- Use a calendar to keep track of meetings and events.
- Use an online collaboration tool that can handle dedicated team chats so everyone can stay informed.
Clear Lines of Communications
When you have clear lines of communication, it’s easier to get work done, and you can avoid misunderstandings. If everyone knows their role in the machine, it will be much easier for them to do their jobs correctly and efficiently.
For example, if multiple people are involved in making decisions, each person should have their own goals and objectives. To establish clear lines of communication, you need to think about how you will communicate with employees and customers.
Create a communications plan that demonstrates how you will achieve your goals. This plan should include specific strategies for internal communications between team members.
Assumptions are at the root of many communication challenges, as they can lead to miscommunication and a lack of trust, respect, and understanding between colleagues. Always remember that the information you have on hand may not be complete.
A few examples of assumptions include: “She’s not interested in what I have to say because she doesn’t respond.” Or “He is ignoring me because he’d rather work with another colleague.” Or even “They don’t care about our team.” In truth, none of these things may be true—they could just be busy (or distracted).
To avoid this trap, make sure you ask questions when you need clarification instead of assuming that everyone knows what you’re talking about or how they should reply.
Avoiding assumptions will help improve team cohesion by creating a better understanding between the parties involved. It also helps eliminate unnecessary arguments by allowing each party to speak openly without fear of being judged or misunderstood by the other person involved in the conversation.
Awareness of Bias and Intent
Many people get upset about bias because it feels like an attack on their character when someone calls them out for having one. It can feel like someone is saying you’re wrong for having a particular opinion or belief.
In a world where information is plentiful, it’s easy to find views that supports our beliefs and opinions. But this can be a problem when we try to communicate with others who might not share the same viewpoint. We can feel like our position is ignored or people are not listening to us.
That is why it’s essential to be aware of bias and intent in communications. We need to understand what motivates people, what they care about, and how they interpret messages. The more we know about someone, the better chance we have of connecting with them on an emotional level.
Clear, Active Voice
Writing in an active voice is more direct, engaging, and persuasive. Active voice is also more concise and readable, making it easier to keep your reader’s attention. Here are some benefits of using active verbs:
They’re more direct and engaging than passive verbs (e.g., “I was given a book by Z” vs. “A book was given to me by Z”).
They’re shorter than passive verbs (e.g., “The project has been completed by our team” vs. “Our team has completed the project”).
They make your content easier to understand because there’s less need for clarification (e.g., “Z gave me a book” as opposed to “Z gave a book to me”).
This method of writing helps prevent misunderstandings during communication between colleagues who aren’t familiar with each other’s work styles or business processes yet still need to collaborate effectively on projects together.
Composed emotions before composing emails
The point of email is to communicate with another person in a way that allows you to express yourself precisely and succinctly. When you’re angry or upset, emotions can get the best of you and spill over into your message.
Let’s say your coworker forgot to buy milk for the office coffee machine. You could send her an email saying, “Hey! Could you please bring milk next time you go grocery shopping?”
Or, if she angered you, perhaps one more along the lines of “You are so useless! Please don’t come back until this problem is solved!”
Which would be better? Neither! Both would accomplish little more than making everyone uncomfortable (including yourself) at work. So if you have something negative to say or ask for, take some time to cool off before typing out that message.
Regular and Accurate Feedback
While it’s essential to give feedback regularly, it’s equally vital that you provide accurate feedback. It’s easy for colleagues to mistake one another’s intentions if they’re unclear about what is said.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when necessary, and make sure that your colleague knows what they did well or poorly so they can improve in the future.
This point goes beyond just giving praise where appropriate; providing constructive criticism is an effective way of improving performance at work and helping others feel more motivated about their job.
Good workplace communications have a standard set of characteristics that can be learned and used by everyone on your team. Although many of these tips seem common sense, letting them slip out of your mind when confronted with a busy work day is easy.
However, keep these ten solutions in mind and apply them consistently throughout your workplace communications process. You’ll be able to improve your business’ productivity and efficiency while ensuring everyone on the team understands their roles.
Author: PuiMun Beh – Digital Marketer, WebRevenue
Photo credit: MART PRODUCTION on pexels