Good office communication is not an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp or military intelligence.
In fact, I’ve learned some of my best communication habits from former bosses.
And no, that’s not only because I decided to do the opposite of what they did, and I didn’t communicate solely through grunts and bellows before.
Here are some ways to improve office communication:
Use Words Accurately
Advertisers and politicians may be doing all they can to suck the meaning out of words, but don’t let their carefree way with “new,” “improved” and “balanced” steer you wrong. I sometimes think corporate communications are as pumped full of air as a fast food hamburger bun, and they’re just as devoid of content. Try not to say anything you can’t prove.
Be Aware of the Potential for Misunderstanding
This is particularly true for electronic communication. Sometimes e-mails can sound ever so much more harsh than was intended. Even when you’re speaking face-to-face, meaning can get lost because people aren’t addressing the issue from the same context. And speaking of texting, your meaning can easily get lost, especially if you’re texting while driving and hit a tree, but don’t get me started. Just don’t do it.
Speak to Communicate
Have you ever been at a meeting and wondered why someone was bothering to speak since they weren’t saying anything at all? Don’t be that person. Save oxygen. Speak when you have something to say, not just to hear yourself. It may seem like you’re doing something to address some emptiness or void that has appeared, but if you have nothing to say, you’re just adding to that void.
It’s always important to show respect for the people with whom you are communicating. One way to show this respect is to consider where they’re coming from. Have an idea of what their needs are, what kind of information they need, what their time constraints are and how much attention they are able to give to the matter at hand.
There’s never really any need to be mean to people. Congratulate people when something good has happened to them, or when they’ve done a good job. Honor their achievements. If someone is being hung out to dry, or twisting in the wind, or feeling embarrassed, give ‘em a break. Remember that we are all people with lives, feelings and back-stories, and allow room for that. Speak, listen to and respond to your co-workers as the fully human creatures they are. And don’t be surprised when they respond to you in kind.
by Danielle Dresden
More articles on how to improve communication at work:
- How to Improve Your Verbal Communication: Five Things to Consider
- Breakdown in Communication: Listen to What You’re Saying
- The Art of Clear Communication