Nine Tips for
Effective Communication at Work
How you communicate through speaking can have a big effect on your career. Speech is how we express ourselves, our motives, our thoughts, our intentions. Ensure that your speaking is expressing exactly what and how you want to communicate.
Clear and concise language is the key.
You want to practice ways of expressing yourself through speaking to ensure that your message is truly being communicated in a way to be understood. There are many ways to get off track in speaking. Practice what you can control.
For example, the tone of voice is very important as you speak.
Early on in my career, I had a habit of escalating my voice several pitches higher when I was under stress or upset. This was pointed out to me by one of my managers as well as a senior leader who was to the point…“Emotions have no place in the workplace.” While I didn’t appreciate their feedback at the time, it really gave me pause to think that the subtle cue of my voice tone escalating was communicating information about me (stressed, upset) that I should have found other ways to communicate. From that time, I am very careful to listen to my tone of voice.
A few tips to ensure that your verbal communication always hits the mark:
1. We start with nonverbals.
Yes, this plays a critical part in communication. Just as my tone of voice conveyed a message, you may also be conveying one by not saying a word. I could write a whole article on this, but one of the biggest ones to watch out for is eye-rolling, or crossing your arms in front of you. This conveys emotions and possibly not believing in what you are saying. In business, you want to show a willingness to engage and be open.
2. Get to the point.
Storytelling is fine with your friends, but normally in business, no one has time for a full story. Get to the point quicker and more effectively.
3. Watch your expressions like “Yeah” or “Huh”
These are often learned habits and they can be unlearned when you watch them.
4. Similarly, stay away from “You know” or “Um”
These are fillers that indicate a lack of confidence and that you’re stalling for time as you’re just not sure what to say next.
5. When it comes to meetings, a little preparation goes a long way.
Have you ever been in a meeting where you wanted to interject but chose not to? In my career, I’ve worked in groups and with bosses who were unwilling to accept input, and it was very frustrating. But again, I realize that I didn’t take the time in advance to anticipate the direction of the meeting and find ways to put myself out there. Taking a step out of my comfort zone, but a knowledgeable one worked so much better. Be prepared.
6. Avoid the F-Bomb, etc.
I know there are corporate cultures where this is acceptable, and that’s fine. I myself have “been there, done that.” However, with clients and others outside the area, this may not be well received. There are still fellow employees who find this offensive. I once had a colleague who went to HR because her female boss was a constant curser. You really don’t want that kind of reputation just to let off a little steam.
7. Record yourself speaking or presenting.
Though this may be difficult to watch, it is so effective. As a new manager, I thought my public speaking was good until I had to watch myself in a video! Oye! What a learning that was!
8. Consider your audience.
Always think about what they are looking for, what level you are at, and what they expect you to communicate. As a Senior Director, I would often have to deliver difficult news to employees, but nothing matched the day I had to call employees into a conference room to announce the untimely death of our co-worker. It was essential that I put my emotions aside temporarily and truly deliver communication in a respectful and caring way. (I broke into tears later and alone).
9. Especially as leaders, you set the tone and your communication is critical.
Employees read things into your speaking and this necessitates an approach of honest and direct yet caring communication.
The art of communication and it truly is an art, takes awareness, practice, asking for feedback, and continuous improvement. The results can be amazing for your career.
Try out one or more of the tips above this week, but most importantly NOTICE your communication and make changes where needed. You can also notice how others communicate around you and see if you observe and hear some of the tips above.
Lupe S. Wood, MS, PCC, is a Career/Executive Coach, and Author of the Monday Morning Inspiration, published weekly on Linked-In, and to her followers. Her specialties are untangling career challenges and choices through coaching for courageous results-oriented clients who need solutions NOW.
Contact [email protected] for more information.