Dos and Don’ts of Communication in the Workplace

Good communication is a key ingredient for a successful company. Employees experience an increase in morale, productivity and commitment if they are able to communicate effectively with one another. Here are some do and don’t tips to improve communication in your workplace.

Do Know Your Style
People have a variety of communication styles and it is easy to misunderstand a co-worker if you are not on the same page. Some folks base their communication on facts and figures while others go with their gut. Knowing what style you are, and also knowing the styles of the people working with you, can help you communicate more effectively. For fun, try Mark Murphy’s assessment to learn more about your communication style.

Do Affirm Your Preferred Method
It’s good to reflect on how you like to communicate with others– do you prefer face-to-face meetings, emails, phone calls? It is equally important to understand how your co-worker best communicates and find common ground. Once you have determined your preferred style of working together, then you can move forward and hammer out next steps.

Do Define the Objective
If you are getting together to shoot the breeze, then have fun chatting… preferably over a pint of something on draft at the local pub. But if you are meeting in order to get something accomplished for the company, start by defining the objective. This basic step is often overlooked. Be clear about your end goal and agree on the steps that will get you to that end. Decide on who will be responsible for which steps in the process and how to measure whether or not the step is achieved. These clear goals and strategies will set up your future conversations for success as well.

Don’t Ask the Wrong Questions
For example, don’t ask leading questions. Leading questions presume that you know the answer. A leading question might be, “Do you think we should host the next meeting at the hotel down the street?” This presumes you know what the answer will be. Perhaps you can say instead, “Where do you think it would be best to host the next meeting?”
In general, ask short, open ended questions that allow your colleague to give their own thoughtful answers. They might have a great idea that you hadn’t even considered!

Focus on Good Communication

Do Actively Listen
Listen to your co-worker to understand what they are saying, don’t listen in order to reply. If you are concentrating on what you will say next, then it is much harder to truly listen to your colleague. You actually might miss what they said! To help you concentrate, remove distractions at the start of your conversation. This could mean turning your phone over, closing your laptop or simply putting your back to your computer screen.

Don’t Show the Wrong Body Language
Your body language can give you away if you are not really listening to your co-worker. Shift your body in such a way to demonstrate that you are engaged in the conversation. You can do this by leaning forward, uncrossing your arms, and looking them in the eye. Without saying a word, you can show your colleague that you understand what they are saying by nodding.
Think of someone in your life who is a good listener. What do they do when you are talking together? The next time you are engaged in conversation with them, make a mental note of their behavior and then try to mimic their actions.

Practice Makes Better
Good communication takes practice. Start by trying one of the above strategies for a few weeks until you feel like you have mastered the concept. Once you feel confident, move on to the next idea. Hopefully you will find your conversations and meetings are more productive and create a positive environment.

If you are looking for a creative way to practice communication with your teammates, consider trying one of our workshops such as Improv Workshop: Imagine the Possibilities or Team Development Challenge. Other benefits to these programs include increasing group effectiveness and strengthening leadership skills. Our Team Building programs also exercise communication skills, stimulate camaraderie and relieve stress. Whatever type of program suits your group; we are here to help you.

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