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Published on August 22, 2018

18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace

18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

An old joke, but painfully true.

Though we humans more or less invented verbal communications, we are still not very good at it. Miscommunication is so common that novelist Doug Adams once opined that if we actually understood everything everyone said, it would cause the end of the universe.

Jokes aside, clarity of communications is a primary job of business leaders, and one of the tough things first they must master. For without clear communications, employees cannot collaborate, and nothing useful happens.

In this article, we’ll look into 18 ways to improve communication in the workplace so you can avoid miscommunication and work more efficiently.

Sending, receiving and noise

Radio engineers know that for good communications to occur, the transmitter should be strong, the receiver should have a good antenna, and there should be very little radio frequency (RF) interference.

Likewise, with people, the person communicating (spoken, written, doesn’t matter) should be clear, the receiver should be attentive, and distractions should be kept at a minimum.

The problem is that all too rarely do these three things happen at once, and hence many office communications fail. Yet everyone has the tools they need to improve all of them. Interestingly, when leaders are good at these three factors, employees tend to improve their communication as well.

How to have effective communication in the workplace

Here are some easy-to-practice tips for improving communications in your workplace.

1. Be a happy person and be kind to everyone

How often do you want to listen to a grouchy or antagonistic person? Likely, never. Neither does the person you are talking to.

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Be happy, supportive and helpful even when you don’t feel like it.

2. Be a good listener

You are a receiver and need that good antenna. In fact, you have two of them – your ears – which should be used twice as much as your transmitter – your mouth.

Good listening begins with being fully present and engaged. Anything less tells the other person you don’t really care.

3. Don’t pass on gossip

Gossip, aside from potentially being destructive, is noise. It is “information” unnecessary to conducting work, a big distraction, and a time waster.

4. Speak in a soft voice

Social media is teaching us that when everyone is shouting, the calm, quiet voice is heard the loudest.

Even when tempted to raise your voice, don’t, and you will be heard very clearly.

5. Be aware of your personal hygiene

This should go without saying in the 21st century. Hygiene is an ante, a minimal aid to social interaction. In the absence of it, the other person – regardless of whether they are the speaker or listener – has many reasons to not be fully engaged.

6. Praise often for anything others do that is worthwhile

People who feel unappreciated make lousy listeners. They might find it not worth their time, or that the speaker is not being forthright.

But when a person is valued, and told so in no uncertain terms, then they listen with eagerness. Authentic praise builds better antennae on the listener.

7. Be honest and ethical

There is a reason people dislike engaging politicians, lawyers and used car salesmen. These people try to please others by using flowery languages which are not true.

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Be honest and ethical and you’ll gain trust from others and people will think that you’re reliable.

8. Never use condescending or vulgar language

It doesn’t matter how thick-skinned a person is, talking down to them or in a way that sounds abusive is noise that prevents them from fully engaging you.

Filter your mind and your mouth, and you will notice those around you more eager to hear what you have to say.

9. Have a good work ethic

Nobody pines for the opinions of slackers.

Be responsible, work hard and go on the extra miles to help colleagues who need an extra hand.

10. Treat others fairly

If you don’t think you are going to get a fair deal, you likely discount what a schemer tells you.

If people in your company perceive you as treating others without an even hand, someone will tune you out and pull down their antennae. But when they know you will treat them with the same honor you treat others, then they want to hear what you have to say.

11. Keep your workplace neat and tidy

My partner, Warren Muller, was not tidy. But he was a genius, and thus worth listening to despite maintaining an office of perpetual clutter. Unless you are a genius, you will discover that people listen to you better when they perceive you to be well organized.

12. Be calm under stress

This is one of the most difficult tactics to master, but it pays well.

We all have been amazed by EMTs, police officers, surgeons and the like who can keep their cool in life-and-death situations. And if involved, we immediately followed their commands.

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When you keep your head about you, others will too.

13. Be friendly and courteous

Try this experiment:

The next time you are on the phone with a tired-sounding customer support representative, be as happy, friendly and polite as possible. You can hear their voice change as they happily engage you.

Now, imagine how well that works when you are face-to-face with your officemate. Honey beats vinegar every time.

14. Be engaging

To engage means to occupy the attention or efforts of a person or persons. This requires being a bit outside of yourself, to holistically connect in both the give and take of a communication. When you do so, you occupy their attention.

If you are not ready to be fully engaging, then wait before starting an important communication.

15. Don’t be wasteful with time

We all are born with a finite amount of time. So, it is little wonder that people dislike having theirs wasted (which is why so many office meetings are disagreeable).

Know what you need to say or learn, get to the point, and then disengage so the other person doesn’t feel the conversation is not worth their time.

16. Speak slowly and don’t use complicated words

Talking fast either makes you sound like a huckster or causes your meaning to be lost. Using unnecessarily complex language or jargon is in the same sphere as speaking condescendingly.

Don’t rush and don’t talk above the lexicon of the listener.

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17. Be more concerned about others than yourself

The attitude “It’s all about me” is a lousy way to engage others, in no small part because it isn’t all about you.

It is about them, coworkers, teams, departments and the company at large. Put yourself, your needs and your interests on the back burner.

18. Be truly humble and forgiving

The Golden Rule cannot be applied without humility and understanding. Likewise, with true, deep and fulfilling communications.

There is no shame in being human, but it requires giving as much as you would like to get if the roles were reversed. Always be human and humane when communicating with your boss, your teammates and your employees.

The bottom line

To have effective communication in the workplace, it goes beyond the words you speak.

With the right attitude and mindset, you will demonstrate the communication skills you need to work with your boss, your teammates and employees efficiently.

Practice the above 18 ways in your workplace and start to improve your communication skills at work!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Ray Zinn

Ray Zinn is an inventor, entrepreneur, investor, angel, bestselling author and the longest serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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