How to communicate better with your colleagues

Effective communication is extremely important to enhance productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Good communication with your peers and managers is what helps us to create a positive environment, build connections and establish effective teamwork. 

Although good communication requires effort from both sides, here are some tips on how you can communicate more effectively with your colleagues, no matter what your work environment may be:

Listen to what others are saying

It’s easy to inject your own opinions into the conversation without taking the time to hear what the other is saying and this is where the conversation can easily fall flat or become confusing. Listen to your colleague’s questions, ask about things you need clarification on, and take note of things you know will be important to complete your tasks. Listening can help prevent any miscommunications and is a very valued quality by your peers, as they know you are focused on them in that moment.

Be clear in your request or message

Whichever form of communication you choose, you need to make sure that you are clear about the objective and the desired outcome. If you need information or a task completed by a certain date, make sure you include details around what and when. If an urgent task needs to be actioned that day, it needs to be highlighted clearly. Keep your message clear and concise otherwise they may overlook your message and won’t be able to help you until it’s too late.

Use simple words

Use words that are universally understood by everyone. Conversations and emails can be easily misinterpreted when ambiguous words are used. If your colleague is asking a lot of questions to clarify the meaning of what was said, it’s a sign that your message was lost in translation.

Learn about how people prefer to communicate

People prefer to communicate in different ways. Learn about your colleague’s communication style by seeing which form of communication they respond fastest to.  For example, if your own preference is to send emails but you’re constantly receiving a delayed reply from your colleague, you might find that you’d get a much quicker response by sending them an instant message instead. When you know how you best communicate, as well as how others do, you can figure out a happy medium or stick to what works consistently.

Ask someone to proof-read important emails

If you need to address a large audience or write an email to an important client, it doesn’t hurt to get someone to proof-read your comms. Spelling mistakes or accidentally omitting crucial information can sometimes be overlooked and a fresh set of eyes can help you identify these.  Not only will you be able to receive feedback to help you improve your writing, but a fresh perspective can give you new ideas on how to communicate more effectively in the future.

Think before you speak

We’ve all been guilty of this at some point and some are more prone to this than others. Whether you’ve said something and instantly regretted it or even if you thought nothing of it, you need to be mindful that the delivery of what and how you have said it, can bring a negative reaction to those you are speaking to. It’s perfectly okay to disagree with someone or have your own opinions but it’s important that you are mindful of what you say (and sometimes it’s better not to say it at all).

Be constructive when giving feedback

When you need to give feedback which requires critique, make sure it’s valuable and will help them do better in the future. Comments such as ‘You’ve done it wrong’, ‘I don’t like that’ or ‘That’s not a good idea’, are neither helpful nor constructive. You should always explain your thoughts and offer solutions or alternatives that can be made to help the individual you are speaking with.

Be open when receiving feedback

On that note, when receiving feedback, don’t be closed off and defensive. We all love to receive positive feedback but negative or critical feedback is what helps us improve our skills and work in the future. Even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear or if you disagree, it’s important to remain open, ask questions and stay positive.

Discuss complicated matters directly and follow up with an email

Complicated matters are best dealt with by speaking directly to that person. Save your time going back and forth via email and organize a meeting to talk it out. Plan what you’re going to say and what points you want to make and it will be much easier and much faster to clear up any confusion (and don’t forget to listen too!). Once you’ve both worked it out, create a separate email to outline the outcome to double confirm that everyone is on the same page.

Stay positive

It’s completely normal to wake up on the wrong side of bed every now and then. However, if you find yourself constantly projecting a negative attitude, this energy can be felt by your colleagues and it can affect team dynamics. Keeping a positive attitude at work and surrounding yourself with positive people can help you and others communicate more effectively as it creates a more comfortable environment for conversation to flow naturally.

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