Every person understands the power of efficient communication and its impact on daily life and processes. The quality of communication impacts how well we resolve issues, establish relationships, network, and fit in the surrounding societies.
At work, communication not only impacts the well-being of the employees but directly affects the quality of work. If people are stressed, annoyed, or even scared to speak their minds out, that will inevitably lead to poor performance, frequent errors, and a high level of employee turnover.
So what should every employee know about professional communication? Here’s a quick overview that covers the key areas of office communication in a little more detail.
In the office, people interact with dozens (if not hundreds) of colleagues on a regular basis. In order for these interactions to be valuable and with no interference in the actual work process, it is important that all employees know the basic communication principles.
Watch the body language
Even though we are not always aware of our body language, we need to pay attention to it as it impacts the way people perceive us. A person with crossed arms and tense posture seems much more distant and negative than a relaxed person who looks you in the eyes and smiles.
Some of the basic areas to keep in mind when talking to colleagues are:
- Maintain the eye contact but don’t turn it into a “dead stare”
- Try not crossing arms
- Look at the person, not at your mobile phone or tablet during the talk
Another important thing that needs to be addressed is over-familiarity. Some enthusiastic employees constantly hug their colleagues, tap them on either shoulders or back, shake hands, and overall, get too close to someone’s comfort zone. Such behavior is often uncomfortable, intimidating or annoying so the best option is to restrain from it, except for when talking to close friends or people who do not mind it.
Listen, then talk
Listening is an obligatory skill for efficient communication. Busy office life often implies rush and people try to express themselves as fast as possible in order to be heard and understood.
However, by listening to the other person without interrupting or hurrying them is a sign of great respect and professionalism. It shows that you value the opinion of your colleague and are willing to hear it.
Use your body language to show that you really listen to a person: react to their words, mimic some of their gestures (it helps win them round) and watch the facial expression (it should not be deadpan).
The biggest things to watch for during a personal conversation with a colleague:
- pointless arguing
- deadpan face
- crossed arms and tense posture
Another frequent form of communication that we often see in the offices is phone calls. When you need to reach someone really fast or urgently solve a certain task, the best way to do so is to call a person. Though seemingly easy, there are still certain rules to follow when making phone calls.
First, always introduce yourself. There might be hundreds of people working in your company and most people don’t even know the people who work on the same floor but in a different department. Therefore, at the beginning of the conversation, introduce yourself and clarify which department you work in.
Second, clearly state the reason why you call and never hesitate to ask for clarification in case you did not understand the person very well. It’s better to clarify the issue once then resolving possible issues in the future. Another good idea would be to take notes during the call to ensure no important information is missed.
Finally, thank the person for their time when ending the call – this will show that you treat your colleagues with respect and value their time.
Remember: your colleagues are people who work on the same goal as you do which is contributing to the company’s development and growth. So one should invest in nurturing good communication skills so it will bring benefits in the future.
Most of the in-office communication happens via texts, emails, or chats. So it’s important to know the basic rules of professional communication via the messengers in order to never miss the important information and get heard in return.
Emails are great because they allow you to share information with different people, exchange documents, schedule meetings and pretty much organize and manage most of the internal processes.
At the same time, emails are often neglected, ignored, deleted, or lost – simply because the sender did not care much about crafting a professional email. Here are the essentials of a good email:
- Informative and clear subject: a receiver should immediately understand what the email is about from its subject.
- A well-balanced copy: not too short but not too long either. Write all the needed information and any useful comments.
- No misuse of emojis, GIFs, memes, etc. Keep the email professional.
- Appropriate tone: start with a salutation and end the email with a professional signature (i.e. “Best regards”). Do not use slang or jargon in the email.
The problem of many emails is that the sender does not know how to create a professional and informative email. As a result, the email looks more like a message from a social media that was sent to a friend but not to a colleague.
Different companies use different messengers and project chats, with Slack, Trello, and Skype being the most popular ones. The cornerstone of professional communication in such messengers is respect for your colleagues and an ability to listen without interrupting.
Remember: there should be absolutely no harassment, jargon, or inappropriate wording in all forms of written communication in the office. As well, always remember to address the person you are talking to, thank them for their time and provide as much information as needed.
The topic of professional communication is really vast and specific to every company. What we can say is that the efficiency and quality of office communication between the employees heavily depend on the internal company culture.
If a company has well-established culture, based on mutual respect and trust, there will be no or very little issues related to communication. Thus, while optimizing the quality of communication in your office and educating people about it, take some time to work on the internal culture as well.