Good communication skills are essential in any job. It would be great if communication were like math and science; follow the formula and it just works. Unfortunately, there’s an art to communication, and to some degree, it has to be learned. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve found to help improve communication skills in the workplace to be more efficient and more productive.
Different people prefer different amounts of communication. When trying to decide how often to communicate, err on the side of “too much,” as opposed to “too little.” Most team managers and project managers that I’ve worked with would rather know about successes and failures sooner rather than later. Communicating quickly can sometimes be very important when there is a problem that has to be dealt with immediately. In addition, it is easier to tell someone to reduce their amount of communication than it is to tell someone you aren’t receiving information as quickly as needed.
Different people need different quantities of information. Learn to understand the position and responsibilities of other people and tailor the amount and type of information you give them. The point is not to withhold information. On the contrary, it is to give someone else the right amount of information so they can do their job efficiently. I run across this situation a lot in the IT world when a highly technical person is talking with someone less technical. Sometimes the tendency is to share lots of detailed information. Usually this is done from a place of trying to be helpful. However, if the recipient of information doesn’t understand it, or doesn’t need it, the information isn’t helpful, and can even cause confusion or offense.
Don’t Under-Share Either
Make sure to include all relevant pieces of information when sharing knowledge. Leaving out some crucial point or fact leads to uninformed decisions.
Use your Target’s Communication Style
In today’s world, there are four primary communication styles: 1) a face to face conversation, 2) a phone call or live video conversation, 3) an email or paper letter, and 4) a text or instant message. Learn to use your target’s preferred style. This will help them understand the information more easily. Also, use a method that is most efficient or is required for the topic. For example, a text message is good for a quick answer to a simple question. An email is good when you need something in writing. Voice conversations are needed when things have to be explained or figured out.
You need to reach out to other people to actively communicate. However, they will need to initiate conversation with you as well. Make sure you are easy to get ahold of. During normal work hours, respond as quickly as possible to phone calls and emails. Make sure your cell phone is not on mute. In addition, establish and follow a normal routine with your work hours. Others will become accustomed to your availability during that time.
Own the responsibility of communication. Make sure you actively work to tell others what they need to know in a timely fashion. Do what you say you are going to do. Follow up with people and don’t let things slip through the cracks. Meetings are an important part of communication. Be on time for meetings; don’t be late, especially if you are meeting with a client.
Overall, good communication makes business run more smoothly. Work to improve your communication habits. Your coworkers and customers will thank you for it.