Open communication is often emphasized to be the key to effective and sustainable relationships, whether personal or in the workplace. Reaching out to other people, especially with colleagues, is easier said than done. It can be easy to give appreciation, ask for assistance or updates but it can be difficult to reach out and give constructive feedback or points for improvement.
As IT professionals, we spend 60% of our working hours collaborating with the teams we are in. Whether you are a software engineer, a tester, a team lead or a manager, in one way or another, you have a team you belong to. Being part of a team has only one purpose – to achieve the goal as one.
To achieve this, we should be able to be our best selves and contribute our skills to realize the team’s success. We should express our ideas, give suggestions, share observations and provide feedback on how the team you belong to can improve day-by-day.
The question is – Can you do it? Can you speak up and communicate your thoughts openly?
Here are five tips you can practice on how to communicate effectively in your workplace.
Be clear and concise
When we say too much, more often than not, we miss the point that we actually want to make. The first thing we need to consider when we communicate is ask ourselves, “What is it that I need from this conversation?” If you are clear with what you need, it will be easier for you to craft your message in such a way that it will be delivered on point and easy to understand. One thing you can consider is to create a draft message and review it a couple of times before sending it. Try to eliminate flowery introductions, words and phrases. Focus your message on what you want to say.
Admit it, there are cases when at work, we let our own personal biases and emotions get in the way. It’s reality but at the same time, when in the workplace, we need to project professionalism at all times. In times when you feel you are highly emotional, try to take a break before sending that email or chat message to avoid misunderstanding. Achieve to have a clear and calm mind before communicating with your colleagues and base your communication on facts and getting a resolution.
Empathy is understanding where the other person is coming from. In communication, being empathic is very crucial. There are times when we tend to just say whatever it is on our minds without considering how it will affect the recipient of the message. Before sending that message, make sure that you understand the current demeanor of the person you’re talking to. You can consider their cultural background, their personality (if they’re an introvert or an extrovert) and their current disposition (see if they’re having a rough time or they’re fine) as this may affect how they receive your message. This can minimize misunderstanding and can promote a healthy working relationship.
Be careful with the choice of words and non-verbal cues
When communicating with a teammate or a manager, it is important to be aware of the words you choose when delivering your message. If you’re sending a message via email or chat, review before hitting the send button. Here’s an exercise – once you get to finish your email, read through it and ask yourself, “What is the feeling or vibe this email gives to the reader? Is it constructive or is it offensive?” With this, you are given a chance to revise before getting the reader see it.
It is different when you are in a face-to-face conversation. In this situations, you need to be extra careful. It’s not just the words that matter but also your non-verbal cues – your voice and facial expressions. Make sure that you are conscious on how you react in the conversation as this may affect how your message is perceived.
In individual or group discussions, it is easier to just keep quiet and let others drive the conversation. Once engaged in a conversation, make sure that you understand what is being discussed and ask questions if there’s anything unclear. If you have an idea, feel free to share it to the group. When someone tries to challenge you with your idea, stand your ground and emphasize your point until you reach a consensus. Healthy teams blossom from people who can openly communicate.
The goal of communication is simple – to have a shared understanding and alignment. By practicing these tips on how we can communicate effectively – being clear and concise, objective, empathic, assertive and careful with our non-verbal cues – it is guaranteed that we are on our way to a more productive and healthy working environment.