Good communication skills are essential—not only in our personal lives but also in our working lives. In order for work to flow smoothly and have good collaboration and teamwork to take place, there needs to be strong communication. With that in mind, below are 6 ways to tackle communication problems in your workplace.
Establish baseline communication standards
This means consciously taking a moment to decide how you want your message to come across. It is important for all employees to have standards of communication they expect to be upheld. Establishing and following a style will help you identify problems more easily and resolve them with less conflict later on. This is particularly important when dealing with difficult people.
A lot of miscommunication happens because two people don't realize they're not on the same page. Don't be afraid to say you feel like you might be unclear or that it seems like someone doesn't understand what you're trying to communicate. A small comment can go a long way towards shifting your dynamics and resolving any problems before they turn into struggles and issues
Create a safe space for communication
In order for good communication to become the norm in an office, you have to establish a safe space wherein people feel comfortable speaking up if they are uncomfortable, need clarification or disagree with something. This is another way of helping each other out.
Just saying 'I might be wrong here, but it seems like…' will invite people to engage in conversation without feeling that either of you is accusing or aggressive. Passive aggressiveness only creates hostility and leaves people feeling unheard.
For instance, if you are in a meeting where things are not going the way you intended them to go, don't just sit there silently hoping for something to happen. If it is clear that no one is willing to take the lead or address your concerns, then be proactive. Acknowledge that you are feeling uncomfortable, that you want to raise the issue, but that it's hard for you to express your thoughts in this kind of atmosphere. Then try breaking the ice by asking if anyone wants to give their opinion before proposing something better.
Must be consistent and constant
Create a work environment where people are encouraged to be open. If someone asks you if they can speak to you about something, don't brush it off! Tell them that now is not the right time but that they can schedule it for some other time. Don't leave them hanging; be respectful of their time and of your own by reserving a block specifically to talk. Make sure you always follow through on these appointments.
Be aware of nonverbal communication
Non-verbals account for a lot of miscommunication between colleagues and the reason is that people often underestimate their importance–especially now. Not only does it work as a feedback system, allowing employees to know if they're being understood or completely missed, but it can even work to resolve problems.
For example, if there's something that needs to be resolved between two people then they can schedule a meeting in which one of them comes in with positive non-verbals (smiling, good eye contact, relaxed posture) while the other person comes dressed in negative ones (crossed arms, avoiding eye contact, tense shoulders).
Set clear norms and expectations
Setting clear norms and expectations is essential. This doesn't just mean being clear about your own paths but asking others for theirs as well. When you ask people what they want out of their job, what they like doing or don't like doing, it's a way of saying that their opinion matters to you, which in turn motivates them to do their best.
The most important thing is to be considerate of other people's feelings and thinking, but don't beat yourself up if you make mistakes. Most importantly, always keep the lines of communication open. You don’t want people to feel like you can’t be approached.
Proactively seek feedback
Proactively seeking feedback is crucial in order to avoid any misunderstandings. If you encounter someone who isn't clear with you or seems to be misunderstanding your actions, ask them what they think is happening instead of assuming. You can also initiate a conversation by saying something along the lines of 'I just want to make sure I'm not coming off as bossy or anything, but I've noticed that you're not doing what I asked. Is there something else you'd rather be doing?'
Communication is key in any workplace. It has to be done carefully, tactfully and mindfully, or else it can lead to trouble. You don't want your employees hating their jobs; you want them to enjoy work as much as they enjoy life outside of work. Part of that equation is invariably strong and positive workplace communication.
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