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Five tips on improving workplace communication

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, December 9, 2017  /  09:05 am
Five tips on improving workplace communication

When communicating in the workplace, draw on how your message is relevant to your audience and the priorities they may have. (Shutterstock/File)

We’ve all had those workplace conversations where we thought we got the point across and that everyone was on the same page, only to find out that our understanding of our message differed from what was understood by others.

In most cases, the unfortunate discovery doesn’t happen until a missed deadline, a hot sales opportunity that falls through the cracks or a coworker feeling insulted stokes a major sense of resentment.

The list that follows, compiled by Forbes, details how to make yourself better heard and understood in the workplace.

Never assume you have everyone's attention

Even if the message you’re conveying is important and may directly affect your audience, don’t assume you have everyone’s undivided attention. No matter how much eye contact they’re making, their thoughts may be drifting towards thinking about which public figure is the latest to be outed for sexual harassment; the unrelenting pain in one of their molars; or the fact that their kindergartener has been sent home with a teacher’s note for the third week in a row.

Keep your message succinct, and reiterate critical points several times before wrapping up the discussion. 

Read also: How to be more productive at work

Deliver a relevant message

It’s not only in an economics class that you can make the presumption of humans acting in rational self-interest. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we’re always trying to connect the knowledge we receive to ourselves. A piece of information arouses our interest and engagement if it affects us.

When communicating in the workplace, draw on how your message is relevant to your audience and the priorities they may have. Include a potential benefit to them, such as increasing revenue year-over-year or not having to work their shift on Christmas Eve.

When they establish the link between their assigned tasks and their personal interests, they are more likely to remember and care about the message you imparted.

Be as clear as possible

In the workplace, no one can afford the time or tolerance for lack of clarity. Want something? Ask for it. Don’t beat around the bush; make your expectations clear by not leaving room for inference.

Discussing all of your accomplishments over the past year and their colossal impact on the company, and sitting back and waiting for your boss to figure he or she should offer you a raise, does not work. Want to lead a new project? Say so. Not sure how your supervisor feels about your performance? Ask for feedback.

As clear as you think you’re being, remember you could always be clearer.

Read also: Four reasons millennials remain at workplaces

Don't leave things open-ended

When identifying a problem, propose a course of action that your colleagues can follow in order to rectify it. Allowing a discussion to be open-ended, or worst, end up becoming an endless circular discussions is a big no-no.

Demonstrate your problem-solving ability by suggesting a viable solution to the issue you have raised, instead of letting the rest take their time to arrive at one.

If someone disagrees with something, they are at liberty to propose an alternate solution.

Always come with initiatives

Employees are typically comfortable discussing their ideas to their subordinates, but not to their bosses, because of fear of criticism. Try not to put the onus on others to come up with ideas. Develop ideas of your own and present them.

Sometimes your idea might be met with pushback or vehement rejection, but it will serve to deepen to your relationships in the workplace and increase your colleagues’ and boss’s respect towards you. It won’t kill you to be the victim of “constructive criticism”.

Perhaps you can begin by suggesting an lunch place for all to go to, then work your way from there. (afr/kes)