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18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace

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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.

What Is Communication About?

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.

It’s about sending, receiving and noise.

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 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.

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These tips can help you to be a good listener:

13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

2. 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.

If you’re not sure how to deal with gossips at work, take a look at this article:

7 Things to Do in a Gossipy Work Environment

3. 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.

4. 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.

Here’re 7 Reasons Why You Should Pay a Compliment to Someone Every Day

5. 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.

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

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6. 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.

7. 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.

Here’re some tips for you to have a good work ethic:

How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

8. 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.

9. 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.

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

10. Be Calm Under Stress

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

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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.

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

If you find it hard to handle stress, check out this advice:

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

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

15. 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.

The skill you need here is empathy: 5 Tips for Empathetic Listening

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

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

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!

More Resources About Communication Skills

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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.

How Do You Measure Success: 10 New And Better Ways Become a Better Manager: 20 Leadership Examples to Inspire Your Team The Secret of Success: 10 Tough Things to Do First 18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace 4 Effective Ways to Motivate Employees During the Busy Holiday Season

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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