3 Tips to Improve Workplace Communication
- The first step is to have some face-to-face communication! Email/chat has overwhelmed our workplace communication methods. We couldn’t work without the speed and immediacy that electronic communications provide. But — the big but — is that “e-mail,” by definition, is just words, making this form of communication much more easily misunderstood than face-to-face conversation. Over 90% of meaning comes from something other than the words themselves — 55% comes from facial and body language and 38% comes from vocal inflection. So choose wisely. Meet face-to-face if there is conflict, if the issue is potentially sensitive, or if your real intent is to build relationships.
- Then, use that 90% well! Be aware of both your body language and the body language of your conversation partner. Facial expressions are universal, but body language, eye contact and intonation can be interpreted very differently across cultures. Are you conveying interest, openness and attention? Your stance and the way you move can help convey a sense of connection. The non-verbal actions can “fit” the words and reinforce the spoken message, or completely negate it. Are you saying “yes” and shaking your head “no”?
- Remember the goal is to express your ideas in a manner that will be understood. You intend one message. Is that the message received? Don’t assume. We all have filters and biases that influence interpretation. Check out your own assumptions. And clarify the message being received. Take responsibility for the message that is actually received.
As we are spending less time face-to-face in workplaces, make it work for you!