Communication Skills in the Workplace

What’s the number one secret to communicating well in the workplace?

Listening.

That’s correct. As odd as it seems, the more you listen, the better a communicator you’ll be.

Too many of us believe that to be a good communicator we need to be, well, “communicating,” as in talking. But keeping sound coming out of our mouths doesn’t mean we’ve really heard or understood what someone else has said so whatever we say in reply often reflects that misunderstanding.

Business communication really is 90 percent non-verbal — which means active listening rather than active talking.

Below are some tips to help improve your communication skills at work:

1) As mentioned above, listen more than you speak.

2) When you’re asking questions, be sure they’re open-ended questions (that is, the questions can’t be answered by a yes or a no). Open-ended questions help you gather more information.

3) Listen to the answers to your questions. Work hard not to be thinking ahead to how you’re going to reply to the person who’s talking.

4) Don’t worry about the perfect rebuttal, your next great anecdote, example, or witty response.

5) Let the speaker say what he or she needs to say — all of it. Work hard not to interrupt.

Really listening to someone as he or she speaks allows us to understand an individual more deeply. We can then make decisions based on detailed information rather than superficial data or — worse — erroneous assumptions about what the person really is saying. Really listening helps us avoid misunderstandings and allows us to connect with people on a much deeper level.

What’s more, people come to trust us more because they feel heard. Such trust creates a workforce with high morale and camaraderie. The workplace becomes an enjoyable place to be. We become engaged and eager to work together and complete projects.

Be quiet; be a better communicator.