Healthy and effective communication is a key foundation of a successful business. Yet, in reality, it’s easier said than done. Communication woes are common in the workplace, affecting the motivation, relationships, and productivity of the employees.
Though establishing better communication requires good time and effort, you can do several ways to resolve connection stumbling blocks and enjoy stronger collaboration and positive results. So, here are our tips to solve communication problems at work and bring workplace communication to the next level.
1. Develop active listening.
You may be hearing what your boss has to say during an important meeting. However, are you actually listening and understanding what he’s saying? Otherwise, have you ever talked to a colleague but had to ask her to repeat because your mind is wandering somewhere else?
Active listening is an undervalued workplace skill, but it’s a crucial ingredient in successful communication. Only when everyone has absorbed everything that has been said can proper communication can prosper.
When everyone actively listens, it helps create a feeling of trust and being valued. Thus, strengthening relationships and preventing or quickly solving any issues that arise.
2. Acknowledge and respect differences.
While you’re all working under the same company in a single office, everyone isn’t the same. Varying behaviors, values, culture, standpoint, and communication styles can often lead to misunderstandings and arguments.
Some enjoy others’ company, while others want to have their own private space. Some are timid, while others are vocal and bold in their viewpoints. Some focus more on results, while others value feelings.
Regardless of what type the person is, it’s vital to acknowledge that each of us experiences and sees the world differently. By recognizing and respecting these differences, you can adjust how you view situations and establish a bridge of understanding that can make it easier to resolve workplace communication conflicts.
3. Be careful with your words, tone and actions.
Never underestimate the power of your words, tone, and actions. For instance, the simple use of the words “you” and “I” language can make a huge difference. Saying “You don’t appreciate my work” can make any other person feel attacked and get defensive. Instead, saying “I don’t feel appreciated for what I do” is more effective in conveying your concern.
Of course, you also have to state everything in a calm voice and manner. More often than that, communication problems at work stem not from the choice of words but rather from how people say them. Your tone, facial expressions, and posture can send forth a lot of signals, which, if not done properly, can escalate the issue further.
As such, make sure to watch your body language and tone when communicating. Be truthful with your actions and elicit your willingness to solve any issue, and contribute in a calm demeanor.
4. Use the best method of communication.
Email, Zoom meetings, Slack, and other messaging platforms – Sure, there are many great tools for communicating with your colleagues. Yet, not all are effective all the time. And, when they’re ineffective, expect that not everyone will have a proper understanding.
As such, you must also choose the proper method for communicating. If you can personally talk to your team members instead of sending a message on Skype, never be afraid to do so. If not, a quick phone call to properly explain everything can also do. You’ll be surprised how shifting communicating channels can do wonders for everyone.
Moreover, this step also involves taking advantage of visual and written communication. An analytics team won’t appreciate a meeting where data is presented in long forms of text. However, they’d appreciate and understand it better if you use maps, charts, graphs, and images. Always present information where your audience can quickly grasp what they need. Thus, preventing any miscommunication.
5. Make it constant and consistent.
When nothing is certain, and there is no set of communication channels or flow to follow for certain tasks like announcing changes or informing about new memos, people would get overwhelmed about the necessary updates and keep on guessing what right source to follow. Yet, it also doesn’t help to set a standard only to make it last for a few weeks or months. Remember, all efforts to resolve problems and improve communication will go to waste if there are no standard and constant efforts. Do the opposite.
6. Ensure there is always enough context.
Though a specific task, set of instructions, or data may be clear, it doesn’t mean it is the same for everyone else. While you can understand it crystal clear, never expect that it isn’t subject to ambiguity. As such, it’s crucial to ensure that there is always enough context, whether it’s for an assignment, a deadline, or a memo you’re giving. Along with this, see to it that you give everyone the chance to ask questions should anything become unclear. That way, you can ensure that everything is as apparent to everyone.
7. Ask for feedback regularly.
Apart from asking questions, you must also seek out feedback on a regular basis from your employees or colleagues. You’ll receive positive feedback, as well as constructive ones. Keep in mind that all these insights, whether they’re good or not, are a chance to know what is already in and what’s lacking, giving you a chance to determine what else to improve. Plus, proactively asking for feedback makes other people feel valued for their opinions and input, resulting in better productivity, collaboration, outputs, and conflict resolution.
8. Never make assumptions.
Among the main barriers to smooth and effective communication is making assumptions. It leads to many issues like wrong ideas, wrong conclusions, wrong comparisons, unnecessary judgments, and the transfer of incorrect information, which all create new problems at work or aggravate any existing ones. If you have any concerns or if there’s something unclear, talk to others and ask questions. Don’t base any decision on what you know, as it’s always easy to reach out to get more clarification and information.
9. Make everyone accountable.
Accountability is essential in driving out time and effort wasted on unproductive behavior. When you make everyone in the company or business accountable for their actions, everyone will begin devoting attention to how they interact with other people and value how they communicate. It’s also an effective form of measuring communication as you’re able to assess where communication works and where it fails. Thus, allowing you to pinpoint what to keep and what to improve.
10. Simplify processes.
Sometimes, communication problems arise because the communication processes are just too complex. It usually happens in larger businesses and projects where there are too many stakeholders, creating webs of communication paths that are just confusing and overwhelming.
To combat that, you just need to streamline all the processes. Review your structure and make communication more open, especially from bottom to up. Make internal documents like files and spreadsheets available. Create a knowledge base where employees can obtain valuable information about their jobs more quickly. By doing such actions, you eliminate all the extra time and effort by simply making things less complicated.
Communication is challenging. So, it’s no surprise that many issues revolving around it exist. Yet, it’s a must to iron out everything, given the importance of communication in the workplace. With that, you must teach everyone the importance of healthy and effective communication and take the necessary actions to prevent and resolve any issues. Once communication is improved, expect to have a better workplace culture, happier employees, and better results.