Communication in the workplace is essential for the success of any company. Most than anyone else, managers and team leaders should master the art of communication, and be able to engage both their superiors and their underlings into meaningful dialogue. In this article we have a few strategies that will enable you to refine your communication skills at work.
1. Communicate constantly
Don’t wait for annual reviews to talk to your employees. Schedule monthly of even weekly one-on-one with your team members. Make a habit out of keeping in touch and knowing where everyone is headed.
Constant communication makes things easier for everyone involved by creating a connection between people. Communication is much easier between two persons who talk constantly and know enough about each other. Besides that, having a personal relationship with people in your team will help in more ways than just matters of communication.
2. Practice public speaking
Public speaking isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that not everyone can improve their skills. While it is true that some people just have it, anyone can become better through practice.
If public speaking is a huge issue for you, it might be better to start small. Talk in front of small groups of 4-5 persons on a daily basis. Then upper the scale until the thought of bigger crowds doesn’t give you nightmares anymore.
3. Learn how to ask
Asking your superiors to support your ideas is never easy, especially when that requires an attribution of already-stretched resources. In cases like that, most frequently managers say no than yes and you can’t really blame them for that.
However, if you truly believe that your idea is worth fighting for, what you need to do is learning how to ask. This requires a bit of strategizing. Try to anticipate the reasons why your proposal might be declined, and prepare arguments to address their concerns.
It is also important to frame your request in a manner that will show immediate benefits for the company and for your team, rather than distant wins that might or might not come. Emphasize on increased efficiency, improved productivity, or financial savings that your new idea might bring.
4. Make meaningful requests
Assigning tasks might seem like piece of cake to those people who don’t have to do it as part of their job. But team leaders and managers know how difficult it can be to ask people to do things, especially when the work requested is dull. People can get really frustrated, especially when they see less meaning in their work.
However, you can avoid that, and put some meaning into the tasks, by explaining the reasons behind your request and helping people see the bigger picture. Asking someone to scan books all day long is not the same as asking them to contribute to the preservation of culture and history. Think about that next time you need to frame things to give people the feeling that they are contributing to something bigger.
5. Master the art of feedback
Feedback is a sensitive issue. Its purpose should be to help people improve their work. However, a lot of times people turn the opportunity of giving into purely toxic criticism, or the opportunity of receiving feedback as an insult. For this reason, feedback should be treated as a sensitive balance that needs fine tuning in order to achieve its intended purpose.
First of all, you should never underestimate the power of positive feedback. Way too often managers are so focused on telling people what they did wrong that they absolutely forget to also praise them for the good things they have done. Even when giving negative feedback, you shouldn’t forget to mention the things that you liked, and the appreciation you have for the person on the other end. Make it clear that feedback is meant to be constructive and not a tool to put someone down.
6. Dissent is necessary
Surrounding yourself with people who think like you and always agree with you can only be good for your ego. However, in order to improve your work, you will need people who think differently and who aren’t afraid to challenge you or anyone else on the team.
This is why it is important to cultivate a team culture that allows disagreement and encourages people to speak their mind, even when their opinion contradicts everyone else’s. The first step to achieving that is leading by example. Find nice and polite ways to challenge those around you without making them feel like they did something wrong.
7. Address different generations differently
Creating a work environment that suits all generations should start with adapting communication to satisfy everyone’s needs and preferences. That is due to the fact that 30 percent of CFOs identify communication skills as the main difference between employees belonging to different generations. If millennials prefer texting via chat apps, generation X still puts everything in an email, while baby boomers would rather discuss matters in person or over the phone.
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Therefore, you need to stay flexible and open to trying different things. Luckily, team communication apps like Hubgets bring solutions that could satisfy everyone, by allowing communication under different forms.
9. Use your communication skills to create contacts
Creating contacts within the lines of your profession – also known as networking – is a crucial part of a professional’s life. Successful networking requires a high level of communication skills. In order to win allies easier, and growing your network faster, you should avoid overselling yourself. Unless there is someone in the room willing to do that for you, it might be better to stick to the basics: listen more than you talk and offer more than you ask for. Use anecdotes and open-ended questions to help people relate and engage in dialogue. From that point on, you can already start planning your follow-up strategy.
Practice, practice, practice
We all know the feeling you get when you replay a dialogue in your head and come up with a thousand things you could’ve said that sound a lot better than what you actually said. In the end, it all sums up to practice. The most frequent you find yourself into a given context, the easier it will be to handle the communication and say the right things, with no ulterior regrets.
So don’t let yourself discouraged if you don’t seem to handle communication like a pro yet. Keep doing the best you can, and each time try to be the best version of yourself so far.