Communicating at Work: How to Communicate Effectively at the Office
Navigating the workplace can be a challenging task. Everyone has their own responsibilities and pressures they need to manage, which creates an environment where it’s easy to feel like everyone is constantly on edge.
There are a lot of factors that go into creating a productive and happy work environment, such as having clear communication channels, trusting team members, and being able to resolve conflicts effectively.
Working in the same office as someone else means that you have to develop strategies for communicating clearly and effectively on a daily basis.
The more stressors there are in your workplace, the more important it is to find ways of speaking up without burning bridges or causing other people anxiety about what you might say next.
Your composure under pressure will impact how others view you at work and whether or not they trust you with new tasks going forward.
Communicating effectively at the office doesn’t have to be stressful
At the root of all communication, though, is empathy. This means not only listening to what a person is saying, but also considering how they might feel at that moment.
In a perfect world, every single person who works with you would be considerate and respectful of your needs, but we don’t live in a perfect world.
You need to anticipate that some people will misunderstand or miscommunicate, and have a plan for how you will respond to that.
When you find yourself in a situation where someone is speaking to you in a way you find challenging, it’s important to first breathe and remind yourself that you are in control of your response.
You don’t have to respond in the same way they do.
Be clear about the details of any task you’re given
If you’re given a task, be sure to clarify the details with your manager or supervisor as soon as possible.
Not only will this help you stay on track and meet your deadlines, but it also helps build trust with upper management.
If you’re unclear about the expectations for a project and you let it go without bringing it to their attention, it could cause delays in the future and make you look irresponsible.
…If you’re ever in a situation where someone else is being vague, bring it to their attention and ask them to be more clear.
You don’t want to come off as aggressive or disrespectful, but if you don’t clarify the situation, it makes you look like you don’t care enough to follow through.
Establish clear communication channels
You might find yourself working in an environment where there are a lot of internal conflicts, or there might be a general sense of mistrust among team members.
In these situations, it’s important to find ways of making communication clear. If you’re in charge of a certain project, you might establish a drop-off location for concerns and questions.
You can also create a virtual communication channel like Slack or Trello to help team members feel heard and trust the information is going where they intended it to go.
It’s also important to remember that you can’t solve every problem for other people. If you find yourself being drawn into other people’s issues, try to redirect the conversation to the person with the concern.
You can acknowledge the issue and offer to help them find a solution, but don’t take ownership of it unless you are asked to.
It’s best to avoid inserting yourself into other people’s conflicts unless you are directly asked to help.
Be trustworthy by owning your mistakes and not blaming others
If you make a mistake at work, whether it be a typo in an email or delivering a project past the deadline, the best thing you can do is own it.
Apologize sincerely, learn from your mistake, and then move on. It’s easy to blame others when you make a mistake, especially with the added pressure of imposter syndrome.
It’s tempting to make excuses and put the blame on someone else, but it doesn’t help you get ahead. Instead, it makes you look unreliable and unprofessional.
If someone makes a mistake that impacts you, it’s helpful to bring it to their attention.
Let them know that their mistake caused an issue for you, and tell them what you need from them to resolve the problem.
This not only helps you avoid being impacted by someone else’s mistake, but it also shows your coworkers that you’re a helpful person to have around.
Be an effective listener
One of the best ways to prove that you’re a trustworthy and effective member of the team is to listen to what other people have to say.
When you’re in a meeting or talking to someone in person, try to focus on actively listening to what they have to say. Avoid being distracted by your to-do list or your mental to-do list for the meeting.
Instead, focus on getting information about the problem at hand, the potential solutions, and the concerns that people have about moving forward.
If something unexpected comes up, like someone bringing up a side project you’re working on, use active listening to let them know that you are listening.
Ask follow-up questions to clarify what they said without making them feel like you aren’t listening.
Asking questions is another great way to demonstrate that you’re actively engaged in the conversation and you’re also someone who is interested in growing.
Ask questions about how others accomplish tasks and what tools they use to stay on top of their workloads.
If someone is sharing frustrations with you, ask them how they want you to help them resolve their problems.
It’s helpful to ask questions that are open-ended, like “What do you like about your tools right now?” or “What can make your life more convenient??” instead of questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.
It can also be helpful to ask follow-up questions, like “Why is that?” or “What made you decide that?” This shows that you’re actively listening and not just waiting for your turn to talk again.
Start with small talk
It can be awkward to start a conversation with a coworker you don’t know very well.
Starting with small talk can help make the conversation feel less forced and give you time to get comfortable talking to them.
Try to avoid discussing current events or politics, which can lead to heated debates, and instead focus on things like what they did over the weekend, what they like to do outside of work, or what they do in their free time.
Once you’re comfortable talking to someone, it can be easier to bring up things like how you like working with them or ask for their advice.
It’s important to be respectful of other people’s boundaries and not pressure them to talk about things they don’t want to talk about.
Use body language effectively
Your body language has a significant impact on your overall communication with others.
Be aware of how you’re sitting or standing and make sure that you don’t come across as too aggressive or closed off.
Crossing your arms can make you seem defensive or closed off, and slouching can make you look uninterested.
Walking into a meeting with your chin up and your shoulders back can help you feel confident as you approach the table, and it can help you feel more confident as well.
Use hand gestures when you’re talking, but don’t overdo it.
Too many hand gestures can make you seem nervous, and it can be difficult to pay attention to what you’re saying.
Communication is a two-way street, and it’s important to be mindful of that as you navigate workplace relationships.
You can’t control how other people respond to you, but you can control how you respond to them, and that’s where most of the growth happens.
When you’re mindful of how you’re communicating, you can also spot when you’re getting stressed out or overwhelmed and find ways of calming yourself down.
…When you make communication a priority, you can provide solutions to problems and questions before they become a problem for other people.
You can bring clarity to projects and goals and help your team members get their work done.
Communication at Work is the key to creating an effective and efficient workplace.
I am the the Founder of SuccessGrid and I am so grateful you’re here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring people to always strive to Raise the Standards to Achieve Greatness.