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Good communication is important when you’re talking to family, friends, or even strangers. But in the workplace, effective communication plays a pivotal role in maintaining the delicate balance of a company. Choosing what to say at the appropriate time can increase company productivity, employee morale, and encourage a smoother workflow. On the other hand, bad communication in the office can lead to mismanaged projects and unhealthy employee relationships. Here are some of the 6 best ways you can improve communication in your office.
1. Listen Intently
It’s not all about the talking. Listening is probably the most important factor in good communication. Lend your ears to the person talking and refrain from thinking of an immediate rebuttal instead of listening. Listen as they give you the details on their opinions or thoughts on a matter and then when they are done, you can proceed to respond. But if it’s not your turn to speak, do the respectful thing and really listen.
2. Body Language
Remember that communication isn’t always verbal. There are tons of studies that have shown that body language can affect the psychology of a social setting. Be aware of how you are presenting yourself in a situation and whether you are coming off open or closed. Are you putting your best face forward? Are you making direct eye contact or standing/sitting up straight? Did you honor the other person with a firm handshake? Take note of these things and pay attention to what you’re communicating through your body language.
3. Ask the Right Questions
Good questioning skills let someone know that 1) you were paying attention to them speaking and 2) you take a genuine interest in their explanation on the matter. Asking the right questions can help each party obtain critical information, provide direction for the conversation, or redirect conversation if it is necessary. Be sure the questions you ask promote a healthy, productive dialogue. Avoid loaded, offensive questions like, “Does that make any sense?” Instead, use open-ended questions if you want a thorough conversation where you can explore the details of a situation together, or closed-ended questions if you want direct answers or need to refocus the conversation. Recognize that asking questions is one of your biggest tools in effective communication.
4. Confront and Control Negative Emotions
It’s easy to let negative emotions into a conversation, especially if it is a debate or you’re fast approaching a disagreement. Instead of avoiding the negative emotions, deal with them in a gentle manner. If you both parties are feeling negativity, take turns expressing the negative emotions and explaining where they are coming from. Try your best to detach from those emotions and keep your eyes focused on the larger conversation. Once you acknowledge the negative emotions, exercise control over them by talking it out. If the negativity is coming from a miscommunication (which is often the case), patiently explain the situation from another perspective and offer suggestions on where the confusion might be coming from. Eliminating negativity might be a bit uncomfortable, but it is worth not letting the anger fester and take over the conversation.
5. Exchange Ideas
Finding a solution isn’t always easy, but exchanging ideas on how to resolve an issue can help speed up the process. Refrain from imposing your solutions on the other person. Instead, take turns exchanging ideas and perspectives to try to come up with something that is equally satisfying for everyone in the conversation. If you like part of someone’s idea, make sure to compliment them on it. Remember that coming to a compromise shouldn’t be a battle between egos. Everyone just wants to find the best solution possible. And chances are, you are more likely to work toward a solution you helped develop instead of one that you feel completely detached from.
6. Stay Focused
Communication is so multi-dimensional that what should be a simple conversation can lead to a million different directions. Remember to stay focused and grounded in the conversation. Be clear about your intentions in engaging the other person, and established the common goal at the beginning of the conversation. You don’t need to spend ample time mauling over unnecessary details or unrelated feelings. Make sure your engagement is direct, concise, and authentic, and you won’t have to worry about losing focus.
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About the Author
Kathleen Cancio is a freelance blogger who has worked in PPC Marketing and Public Policy Research. She was most recently a Search Marketing Analyst at CommonMind, LLC, one of Clutch’s top PPC Agencies for 2015. She has a wide range of interests including painting, traveling and hiking.