3 Simple Steps to Improving Communication Skills

You cannot afford to take the critical skill of communication for granted! Especially when communicating with co-workers. Let me illustrate my point:

You receive an e-mail from a colleague, but you can’t grasp the tone of the message because the words can be read in a variety of ways. Is the person OK? Angry? Upset? Confused? It’s hard to tell. Would you:

a.) Write back and ask for clarification?
b.) Craft a carefully worded reply that remains positive and avoids any possible negative interpretation (skirting potential conflict)?
c.) Pick up the phone and speak to the person?
d.) None of the above?

The best solution is “c”. Call and speak with the person directly so you can engage even more of your senses in interpreting the message. (Even better, go visit the person if you can.) This also ensures that you quickly and effectively manage any potential problems.

Three things to consider to improving communication skills in the workplace:

What is my goal or motive for communicating with this person now?
Your reasons for contacting a person can and should guide your decision about the best way to communicate. Keep this in mind as you consider the following two points.

What is my relationship with this person?
How you communicate with someone has a lot to do with your current relationship. Should you be formal or informal? Are details important, or is brevity key? Consider the other person’s needs and preferences. And, above all, if you’re not sure whether your message will be received in the right way, rethink how you choose to communicate. Assume nothing – and be prepared for everything.

Is this the right media choice for the message?
Finally, ask yourself the “money question”: What’s the right medium for the message? Communications expert Marshall McLuhan wrote volumes on this subject back in the ’60s – and it still applies today. Just because you receive an e-mail doesn’t mean replying by e-mail is the best way to communicate well. Handling a difficult situation or potential crisis? Face-to-face or verbal communication is best. Business as usual? Written or e-mailed messages, or quick phone calls, are most effective. Remember your goal/motive and your relationship, too! All these things factor into your decision.

The benefits of improving communication skills with co-workers:

I hope you will challenge yourself and take the time this week to communicate with excellence. Remember, the more effective you are in communicating with others, the better chance you have:

  • getting what you need.
  • persuading others to see your way.
  • managing a difficult situation.
  • being taken seriously.
  • saving time and rework for yourself.
  • maximizing your productivity.
  • reduce conflict.
  • clarifying expectations.

It’s worth your time and energy.

What is holding you back from communicating with excellence?

Joan Burge



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