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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.

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

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 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 How Teamwork in the Workplace Boosts Morale and Delivers Results

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

More Self-Care Tips

Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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