01 April 2016
As technology continues to transform the way we communicate, it can be easy to forget how certain verbal and nonverbal cues can affect how our messages are interpreted. Have you ever sent an email to a large group of colleagues, only to realize the message contained grammatical errors or didn’t include documents you said you’d attach? While this may not seem like the end of world, consistent subtle lapses in communication like these in the workplace have the potential to damage your overall credibility and professionalism. Since being a strong communicator is integral to long-term success, it’s important to be aware of how your communication habits can affect your working relationships and overall professional development. If you want to become a stronger communicator, here are 3 areas you should work on: Active listening When was the last time you were in a meeting where your team members gave their phones more attention than the actual speaker? This happens quite often in the workplace, and while it is unprofessional, it is also detrimental to productivity. As a result, you might find yourself asking follow-up questions that were already addressed in the meeting or missing out on important dates or deadlines. Active listening will go a long way in ensuring you understand the intended goal of a meeting or conversation and you have the tools you need to accomplish tasks. To add value to conversations you’re a part of through active listening, try making regular eye contact with the speaker, restating their statements to ensure you understand them, or asking questions to tie up loose ends. People will appreciate working with you more if you listen intently and are engaged with them on projects. Your body language Interviews are some of the best scenarios to assess how verbal and non-verbal communication work hand in hand. Often times, if your body language doesn’t match the message you’re trying to convey, this can raise red flags for the person on the opposite side of the conversation. For example, if you answer the question ‘what excites you most about working at XYZ company’ with a great response, but do so unenthusiastically and without smiling, it will be difficult for your listener to believe you. This also relates to business meetings, networking events, or individual conversations. If your body language and messages don’t match up, you risk not receiving the type of outcome you intended. Ultimately, no matter the setting, you should always be cognizant of the message your body language is telling: slouching, sighing, or rolling eyes are just some of the negative non-verbal cues you want to avoid using if you want to be seen as someone who is engaged with their work. Be concise Composing and responding to emails are regular tasks we do in the workplace. However, if both people don’t share similar email etiquette, it can leave a lot of room for mistakes and unnecessary communication. For instance, people generally prefer reading messages that get to the point fast. Unnecessarily long messages and significant back and forth in multiple emails threads can lead to wasted time and decreased productivity. Therefore, if you find that you have to type numerous emails in order to address challenges or get your point across, you should consider finding ways to be more concise in what you’re trying to say. Alternatively, if you find that colleagues you work with don’t communicate as efficiently via email, pick up the phone and give them a call. The goal is to reach a point in your career where people look forward to working with you—something that has a lot to do with how you communicate. Active listening, being attentive to your body language, and communicating concisely are just the foundation of a successful career.