How successful you are at work depends in no small part on how you communicate with your co-workers and clients.
After all, however good you are at running your business, being liked and respected is crucial – especially for those with client-facing businesses.
Here are 10 simple ways to improve your workplace communication skills.
1. Talk (don’t just email)
Many modern office workers neglect the age-old art of conversation in favour of electronic communication methods such as email.
But receiving email instructions from someone sitting just behind you, for example, can be demeaning.
Emails also have the potential to be misconstrued – sometimes with disastrous results.
So why not follow up that email with a quick face-to-face chat or a call?
“Email is a great tool,” says Georgina Perry of consultancy The HR Difference.
“But communicating in person offers greater meaning and understanding than the written word alone.”
2. Be an active listener
Most people think good communication is about getting your message across.
But listening to others is also imperative to being an effective communicator.
A useful trick is to repeat what the other person says. For example, you might respond to a staff member: “OK James, I understand you feel this job is taking too much of your time. I will look at ways to spread the workload.”
It will help you to remember what was said, while also showing you are interested in what they are telling you.
3. Ask questions
It’s important not to be afraid to ask questions of your partners, suppliers and clients.
If you don’t you could well end up wasting time because you did not fully understand the task in hand.
As a business owner, it’s also vital to regularly ask your team how they are getting on and whether they need any extra support.
Either way, don’t forget to listen to the answers!
4. Keep criticism constructive
Few people respond well to a tirade of abuse.
So if you need to talk to a staff member about a mistake they have made, try asking why they are struggling and looking for ways to help them get back on track instead.
Telling off staff in front of the rest of the team is also a big no-no.
“I once had a boss who ridiculed subordinates in an attempt to make himself look better, but he just ended up looking incompetent himself,” says architect Robin Fenton.
5. Praise your staff
It’s easy to fall into the habit of only commenting on your staff members’ work when there is something wrong.
But positive feedback is a vital part of good workplace relationships.