The Keys to Successful Office Communication: Listening Well and Being Heard
Whether you are writing an email, talking on the phone, or dealing with someone face-to-face, successful office communication is the best way to get what you need while avoiding conflict. Communication is often thought of as nothing more than the transfer of information or ideas between two people, but this could not be further from the truth. Every word you say, hear, and read are complicated by emotions and assumptions on both sides.
Written and Electronic Communication
Because written and electronic communications strip out all of the emotion from the conversation, what you write needs to stand on its own. First, consider whether it is a good idea to express yourself in an email or instant message. If you are trying to sort out a problem or disagreement, for instance, it is better to talk with the person directly and eliminate some of the possibility of misinterpretation. For any written message you do send, remember the finer points of written communication such as manners and friendly words.
Instead of firing off a series of emails, give yourself some time to consider any previous communications and think about what you want to say before you start to compose your message. After you write or type what you want to say, read it back to yourself and consider how someone else might interpret that message. All communication should be mulled over before sending it off, but as a rule, the more important the communication is (or the more emotional), the greater the amount of deliberation should be.
Telephone and Face-To-Face Communication
When speaking directly to another person, effective office communication is even more important because it has immediate and long lasting effects. Perhaps most importantly, always think very carefully about what you are about to say. This not only ensures you get your idea across, but it can also avoid conflict later on.
When using a large number of words to get your thought across, there is more room for interpretation. Therefore, when you speak, be concise and to the point without sounding rude or agitated. It is also a good idea to ask the other person to verify what they have heard. This gives you the opportunity to clarify any misunderstanding right on the spot.
Because effective office communication works both ways, it is as important for you to listen as well if not better than you speak. Be sure to focus solely on the speaker by making eye contact and demonstrating openness through your stance and expressions. Once the other person has completed their thought, reflect on what they had to say and confirm what you understood. For example, say something like “so you would like me to…” or “what you’re saying is…” This saves confusion, wasted time, and hurt feelings.
Problems and conflicts are inevitable; the key is to make them as calm and painless as possible for all sides. In these situations, effective office communication is even more important. Keep in mind that stress will reduce the level of understanding, and therefore, if emotions are running high, take time away from the situation to cool off.
Try not to take things too personal. Language barriers, generation gaps, and differences in background are often the source of many misunderstandings. Lastly, rather than answering a question without knowing the definite answer, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I can find out.” When going to others, just be sure you recognise the difference between work place gossip and seeking genuine help.
Effective office communication is well worth the time and effort. Not only can it save you time and help you perform your job more effectively, but it can also keep stress levels down making it easy for everyone to enjoy their job. Once you begin to utilise the basics of good communication, you will establish yourself as an approachable and valuable addition to the company leaving the door open for future endeavors.