We have all come across communication attempts at work that lack the specificity and context that we need to do our job; or witnessed a failure to communicate through our interpersonal relationships at work, which can impact our productivity.
From face-to-face discussions to professional email exchanges, communication training can add value to how you interact with others in the workplace. Learning to communicate effectively will improve your value.
Communication is about the transmission of information. Communication skills are the ability exchange information effectively with others, both personally and in the workplace.
Communication skills are important because they affect us both in the workplace but also in our personal lives. They are a foundational skill set for almost all positions and leadership roles. It can make or break a collaborative workplace. Effective communication means more information sharing in a space where employees feel comfortable to do so.
Types of Communication
Communication skills doesn’t just apply to verbal communication. It also involves:
Nonverbal communication – This is communication through gestures, facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal ques.
- Active listening – You should be listening more than you speak, which is an ongoing skill to develop. This is called active listening, which shows an individual you’re active in the conversation and invested in understanding.
- Written communication – Communication through methods such as email and text. Written communication lacks things such as tone and personality, which makes clarity and conciseness in this medium even more important.
- Visual communication – This style uses visuals such as signs and illustrations to help convey key points.
When we think about effective communication skills in the workplace, we often think about writing or speaking. But it goes beyond that—writing and speaking are only part of the equation. Good communication includes other skills, such as:
Listening to understand
This is also known as active listening. This means we’re listening to understand the speaker and the context of the information. It leads to better problem-solving because we have more information to work with.
Positive body language
Body language plays an important role in non-verbal communication. This includes everything from your facial expressions to your posture. Positive body language, one that helps make a conversation positive and inviting, can be the very difference between a productive conversation or not.
Email and written etiquette
Emails are a primary method of communication in the workplace, but they lack ques such as tone and personality, which can leave room for misinterpretation.
Emails should be short and concise with an emphasis on clarity. You want to minimize misunderstanding and errors, especially when dealing with multiple parties. Emails are also a great source of recording-keeping, which allows a person to draw on the information shared when needed.
Emphasis on clarity
Communication can go awry quickly. Fine-tuning your communication skills to lead with clarity will help reduce miscommunication and confusion.
Clarity in your communication means you “get to the point” – you deliver your message with enough detail and information needed for that audience.
Confidence and a positive attitude
Communicating is something you do every day in the workplace. People are generally more receptive to someone’s positive attitude than not. Creating an environment that fosters problem solving starts with the words you use to create it.
If you’re leading a team, confidence in the delivery of your message helps your teammates build confidence in you.
Respect for all
We should always have respect for others. We should respect others when they’re taking the time to communicate with us. This creates an inclusive workplace. When someone feels respected to share their opinion, they’re more open to share their thoughts and ideas which helps lead to innovation.
Openness to giving and receiving feedback
Feedback is important for development. How that feedback is delivered is also important. Organizations want to foster an environment of continuous learning and improvement. When employees grow in their careers, so does the organization.
Knowing which channels to use to communicate
The channel in which you deliver your message is important. If you’re giving feedback to an employee, that might be better suited in a person-to-person environment, not over email.
If the information you need to share is time-sensitive, then delivery through an email or other text platform.
Developing the ability to communicate effectively can provide tremendous benefits to you, your team, and your company. Good communication skills can foster mutually beneficial relationships at work, save time, and increase productivity.
There are a few ways to develop your communication skills, including:
- Practice active listening – Active listening is something you can start doing in your next conversation. Be mindful of your speaker and what they have to say. Be mindful of your body language and how it could be perceived by your audience. With active listening, find things to ask the speaker about to show you paid close attention and for further engagement.
- Find ways to become more concise – Being more concise in your communication will be a skill you’ll never forget. The next time you send an email or plan on having a conversation in person, think about the key points you want to get across. For the medium, how can you deliver your message that’s concise?
- Taking formal communication skills training – While you put your new skills into practice, consider taking a formal communication training course. Structured courses present you with new information you may not have known you needed, plus an environment to learn from others and ask questions.
Thousands have taken AMA’s best-selling and highly popular instructor-led course, How to Communicate with Diplomacy, Tact and Credibility. This fully immersive program that offers a complete range of experiential learning activities to help you practice and apply new communication skills.
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