5 Strategies To Improve Communication in the Workplace

Workplace Communication: 5 Strategies for Improvement

Communication is not merely a simple exchange of words. It’s much more than that. Peter Drucker, an American-Austrian educator, has a famous saying: “Workplace Communication takes place in the mind of the listener, not the speaker.” Therefore, what you say or write as a manager or leader isn’t the only thing that matters. What’s more important is how your employees perceive and interpret your message.

Workplace communication plays a vital role in the success of an organization. A report by the Connected Culture confirms this notion. It says that 71% of those employees who felt more productive also felt more connected with their teams. On the other hand, the cost of poor communication can also be huge. According to a research report by Economic Intelligence Unit:

  • 28% of employees blamed poor communication as the most important reason for breached deadlines.
  • 25% of employees confirmed ineffective communication for missed performance goals.

Therefore, improving workplace communication should be a top priority for organizations. Here are five practical strategies that you can try out to improve communication in the Workplace.

  1. Master the Subtle Art of Listening

Listening is one of the most underrated skills that is hardly talked about. We underestimate the complexity of listening because it seems like a passive and natural ability. However, it requires a significant amount of effort and focus to listen and absorb information truly.

Effective listening isn’t just about giving the impression that you’re engaged; it involves intense concentration and considerable mental energy. But why is it so hard to listen actively?

Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has  identified four reasons:

  • Evaluation: we form opinions about what the speaker is saying;
  • Probing: we ask questions from our point of view;
  • Advising: we offer solutions and advice without fully understanding the situation;
  • Interpretation: we analyze the speaker’s motives and behaviour based on our experiences.

Awareness  of these habits and consciously avoiding them can help us become better listener, which will eventually improve communication. While many people believe that the ultimate goal of communication is to convey their message, it’s a mutual exchange. It is a two-way street. If you’re solely focused on expressing your thoughts without taking the time to actively listen to what the other person has to say, it’s unlikely that you’ll come to a common understanding.

2.  Provide Context

As a manager, it’s easy to assume that your employees understand the reasons behind every task you assign them. However, that’s not always the case. To avoid any confusion or miscommunication, provide enough context when delegating tasks. Let me give some instances to illustrate the significance of context. If I ask you to add ‘one’ to ‘one,’ you will quickly interpret it as a math problem and promptly respond with right answer.  However, the answer doesn’t hold true in all cases? It is contingent upon the context.

But how?

If I ask you to add one drop of water to another drop of water, the outcome would most likely be a larger drop of water. It will not be ‘2’.  I hope that they serve to illustrate the point. Context is crucial. The question, despite its apparent simplicity, necessitates additional information to answer.

Make the purpose of the assignment very clear, any deadlines that need to be met, and what business outcome you want to achieve with this and any your quality expectations.

3. Avoid Assumptions

Missed signals and making assumptions are some of the biggest stumbling blocks to quality communication in the workplace. If you have concerns about an employee’s performance or behaviour, it’s essential to avoid making assumptions about the cause.

It’s always a good idea to give your team members the chance to speak up and share their thoughts. You never know, they might be dealing with some personal issue that’s affecting their work or feeling overwhelmed with their workload. Simply lending an ear and listening to their concerns, you can work together to find a solution. It not only helps to improve their performance but also builds trust and strengthens your team’s bond.

4.  Talk Face-to-Face When You Can

Sometimes we may feel like we’ve lost touch with the art of face-to-face communication in our modern world of Slack and email. It can be tough to convey the tone, and some people don’t respond well to certain types of digital communication. That’s why discussing face-to-face is critical, as this allows you to establish a personal rapport with team members. And when you have the chance to talk with someone in person, be sure to show that you’re actively listening by using positive body language. When people feel heard and valued, they’re more likely to come to you with their concerns or ideas in the future.

5.  Focus on Emotional Intelligence

The pillars of effective communication rest on three things: transparency, trust, empathy, and open culture. These things breed an environment that promotes a positive culture in the workplace. Your team members will be more receptive to listening to messages if they trust the manager. They’ll have the courage to speak up, share their views, and take constructive feedback in the right sprit. Why is this important?

Employees are not just resources; they are also individuals with diverse interests and talents. For instance, a marketing colleague may have fascinating travel experiences to share, while a new team member could strive towards a significant fitness achievement.

Understanding that you are interacting with human beings can foster empathy, while engaging in conversations beyond work-related matters fosters favorable outcomes and enhances team cohesion.

Communication is an Illusion!

George Bernard Shaw, the famous Irish playwright, explains it beautifully: “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. “It’s a profound statement that reflects on the many ways in which we often fall short in our attempts to communicate with one another, both professionally and personally.

The bottom line is that good communication is not just about presenting your ideas coherently; it’s about many more things. That’s the reason employers consistently prioritize communication skills as a top requirement each year and with good reason. It is key to maintaining positive relationships, driving progress, and achieving success in both personal and professional spheres.

Read this also:- From Data to Story: How to Turn Information into Narratives.