5 Ways to Improve Your Workplace Communication
Let’s be honest. It’s been an unprecedented few months.
Social norms have changed. Work-life has changed. And most of all, communication has changed.
(Goodbye, in-person meetings. Hello, Zoom.)
While technology has greatly helped workplace communication, it has also created some challenges and misunderstandings.
You know. Poor internet connection. Lagging video. Sound issues.
You’ve likely made some adjustments over the past few weeks. And now that you’ve finally mastered Zoom, it’s time to return to the office where you might find a whole new communication challenge – talking behind a mask.
But don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. There are ways to ensure your message is heard and understood.
ActionCOACH’s Mark Phelps recently shared with SharpCFO’s Ryan Dietrich 5 strategies that will greatly improve your workplace communication skills – both in person and virtually.
1. Repeat What Is Said
Imagine this. You go to your favorite fast-food chain. You pull up to the drive thru. You place your order and the fast-food attendant repeats it back to you. You confirm or correct the order, and proceed to the check-out window.
Standard, right? Well, the same procedure can be applied to workplace communication.
“When someone can repeat back to you what you said, it’s an example of communication well-done,” said Mark.
At ActionCOACH, communication is defined as ‘the response you get.’ If you get a response that’s not expected, it’s not considered communication.”
As a leader, it’s important to take charge and ask your staff to repeat back to you what you said. This will help avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication.
“Our emphasis on getting the response that we want to communicate has to be heightened, and we have to be more deliberate in today’s times,” said Mark.
“When we interact with someone, it’s making sure to hold that person accountable to get their job right.”
2. Project Through Body Language
Communication is not all words.
“It’s only 7%. 38% of what is heard comes from the tone of your voice. And 55% of communication comes from your body language – how you hold yourself, present yourself, use your hands and gestures,” said Mark.
With barriers in place, it’s important to bring effort into the conversation and place more emphasis on your body language.
For example, before you call someone on the phone, smile.
“Having that frame of mind on your face changes how you sound and how others perceive you to be.”
Use more body language to your advantage. Make eye contact. Nodd. Smile. Engage in the conversation.
“There are ways to communicate effectively through a screen. In sales, we want people to know, like and trust us. We have to get that across the barrier…We have to make sure it gets communicated.”
If you’re speaking to someone in person and both of you are wearing masks, make sure to talk louder than normal.
“With voices muffled, words toned down, and facial expressions covered up, you’ll want to exaggerate more and ask yourself, ‘what’s the response that I’m getting?’”
3. Be Clear with Expectations
Overall, more attention to detail needs to go into your conversations. This also translates to your team.
“We need to be more articulate and less vague in how we choose our words,” said Mark.
Set expectations for your team and make them known.
For example, create a ‘Do’ and ‘Do Not Do’ list for your team’s virtual meetings.
The ‘Do’ list can include things like: be present in the camera. Pay attention to and look at the people you are interacting with more than staring at yourself on the screen. Lean into the conversation. Participate in the dialogue.
4. Observe and Listen
As you communicate with your team, watch their reactions.
Are they alert and looking at you?
“You can gauge if you’re communicating effectively by watching your team’s responses,” said Mark. “Watch them to see if what you’re saying has relevance.”
In return, when your team speaks, be a really good listener.
Active listening is one of the most important things you can do in communication.”
Smile. Nodd. Repeat back points that were said.
“Make sure your team knows that they matter to you. When you check out, who you are communicating with also checks out. Others can tell when you disengage.”
5. Look Within
Lastly, as the leader of an organization, it’s always important to look internally first.
Communication starts with us,” said Mark.
“Work on what’s in your control first. Ask yourself, ‘what can I do to better communicate?’”
“As we set that precedent, people might reflect it.”
By applying these 5 strategies to your workplace dialogue, you’ll have the confidence you need to communicate clearly and lead effectively – both in person and remotely.
Remember, it all starts with you.