It is perfectly normal that you are quite constantly in touch with your co-workers. The lines between the professional and personal can get blurry as a conversation about work is often supported by another chat thread of memes and cat gifs.
When we say workplace communication, we specifically refer to conversations that take place at work, about work. Keeping this effective is integral to team building and avoiding miscommunication.
That said, here are ten things you internalise to communicate effectively in a professional setup.
- Where to communicate?
Do not underestimate the value of face-to-face communication. It opens up the scope for discussion and immediate clarifications. It also adds a human touch to work. If it is happening over a medium, ensure you are using the right one, addressing the right person. Not every piece of communication needs to go by email. IMs work for certain things or the work management software used by your organisation. Learn the guidelines/ practices of your team or organisation so you communicate through the right portal.
- Concrete and coherent
It is natural for our minds to work faster than our mouths or hands. Always pace yourself so that you present your points in a logical order for the others to keep up with. Going back and forth will simply increase the chances of miscommunication. If you have a set of points to deliver at a meeting, it makes perfect sense to have it written down. Respect the fact that you are taking everyone’s time.
- Appropriate over fancy
Focus on the points at hand rather than a flowery presentation. Do not divert attention from what actually needs to be conveyed. Fancy words and jargon do not make you sound smart. Use vocabulary that you are comfortable with, more than anything else.
- Pay attention to non-verbal communication
Spend some time talking in front of a mirror. Get into the habit of noticing your body language and gestures while making a point. Your gestures must accentuate what you want to communicate, not distract. Non-verbal communication is integral to the meaning people will associate with your words. Try not to allow the stresses of a different issue to flow into a different conversation. Crossing your hands, or a furrowed brow generally makes people wary.
- Facts and not stories
Facts state what happened. Stories are your interpretations of those facts. Do not let personal biases and feelings dictate workplace communication. Present facts as directly and clearly as you can.
- Communication is a two-way street
Whether it is meetings offline or virtual, or written communication, allow for the communication to be a two-way street. Don’t just hear, but actively listen and allow for ideas and opinions from the other side of the table. Maintain eye contact. Ask questions to show your involvement with the conversation. Build a team that can openly discuss ideas for the growth of the organisation.
- Building inclusive collaboration
Imagine you are in a team meeting or a group discussion. Ensure that everyone is heard. Call on people who are usually overheard. Effective collaboration will happen with honest and respectful communication.
- Diplomacy is key
Check yourself before making any generalisation. You must not come across as stereotypical or offensive. Sort out miscommunications as early as you can, so that resentment does not build up.Diplomacy does not mean blindly agreeing. It also is the art of disagreeing while being polite and respectful. This is crucial to developing well-rounded ideas. Losing your call, raising your voice, or keeping caps locked on is not going to help anyone.
- Separate the personal and the professional
Details of personal lives and gossip have no place when speaking about work. It reduces the efficiency of communication. Gossip also can make people doubt you. They will be wary of trusting you. Keeping them separate will make you look the consummate professional.
- Include positive feedback
People want to hear good things about what they have accomplished. Feedback is not only negative. Always appreciate people for the task that has been done, before offering constructive criticism.
While these are some general rules of workplace communication, it is important for you to observe the practices of your organisation in particular. It essentially boils down to creating effective habits and communicating the truth without embellishments. Plus, a little empathy will take you a long way.