Talking to each other is natural for everyone. Communication seems to be the simplest thing in the world. But when it comes to giving instructions, constructive criticism and explaining a project, it’s not all that easy. Here are some rules for effective team communication. If you follow them, each conversation with your boss, coworker or customer will become a pleasure for you both.
Proactive listening is the cornerstone of communication. Focus on what the speaker is telling you. Leave your laptop or mobile for a moment, stop looking around. This way you will show respect and interest in your partner. Try to establish eye contact, do not interrupt and if you have a question or comment (even if you are the team leader), wait until they finish and only then express your opinion.
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Messages may be perceived differently not only due to the nature of the statement, tone of voice, gestures and facial expressions, but also the recipients’ emotions. Being able to empathize with your speaker is worth a crock of gold. Listen to what they have to say before you start accusing your employee of failing at a task. Try to understand their attitude.
Messages should be clear for all team members, regardless of their age or education. Avoid mental shortcuts and industry jargon (unless you are sure that the recipient will understand it). Ensure that your interlocutor feels comfortable. If you are unable to explain something, you probably don’t understand it yourself.
A conversation should be based on facts. Do not speculate or make assumptions at work. Focus on the particulars. If you wish to refer to a situation, project or customer – tell about it. You may present your expectations or express concern. Avoid assessment or comparisons. There will be time for that. Do not mince your words. People who are outcome-driven in their communication are valued in every business.
You tend to talk about several issues at a time and interject secondary threads? Get rid of that. If your message includes an instruction, a concert review and a story that happened to you on your way to work – your team will have a difficult time grasping the point you are trying to make. Responsibilities will quickly be set aside and the majority of the employees will be quick to forget about them.
People believe without hesitation in the words of honest, knowledgeable and experienced people who are also well-known in the industry. Why? Such people are trustworthy. Assume responsibility for your words. If your are unsure about something, don’t talk about it. Sometimes it is really better to say: “I will check that and get back to you” than blurt out unverified information.
At work there is no time or desire for long and pointless discussions. If you have something to communicate, be concise. Regardless of how much you have to say, try to stick to the minimum. What your team actually cares about are the facts. Keep in mind that time is money.
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