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Tips for Improved Workplace Communication

Updated on December 22, 2011

Poor workplace communication is one of the most common complaints in any business today. Communication is a very important skill to have for a business to run smoothly but communication training seems to be overlooked to frequently. Regularly scheduled meetings and training on workplace communication can not only improve relations between employees and customers, but it can also drastically improve workplace performance. Below are several tips to improve communication in the workplace.

Keep it positive and polite. The same message can be interpreted in several different ways, depending on the tone and attitude used to deliver it. When communicating in the workplace, you should always keep a positive and polite attitude. Avoid using an aggressive or accusatory tone when speaking and emailing other employees. For example, an email stating, “You did this wrong and you need to fix it” automatically puts the receiver on the defensive. They may feel that they need to justify their actions rather than just correcting the problem. A better alternative would be, “Please correct the following…”

Know who you are talking to. Different people have different styles of communication and it is important to know the difference between them. It may be okay to use slang and joke around with the guy you sit beside all day but the same type of communication may not be appropriate when talking with other people in the workplace and can even come across as offensive at times. Also, keep in mind that different people work on different schedules than you do. While it may be unacceptable to wait 30 minutes for a response from a coworker, a manager may need more time than that due to meetings, etc. For a very busy person, it may be more appropriate to schedule a meeting for a time to discuss an issue rather than going back and forth in an email.

Keep the message limited to just the facts. In the heat of the moment it can be easy to get carried away on “how you feel” about an issue. However, when you send a page long email rambling about how you feel about a certain issue, the underlying message can be distorted. Make your message short, simple, and to the point. For example, it is better to just state, “The technician did not arrive at the scheduled time” than to go on and on about how much the technician gets on your nerves and how he is always messing up on everything he does.

Avoid copying unnecessary people on emails. If you have ever worked for a company that abused the copy function on emails then you know what I am talking about here. Some people get carried away, copying everyone in the department on an email that really only needs to go to one or two people. For example, some people feel like they need to copy their boss on every email they send out. Think about if there are 30 people in the department and they all do this how many emails your boss gets a day. Sending too many emails to all the wrong people creates confusion and in the end causes messages to be over looked because of the sheer volume of them coming in.

Never say no as first response. People don’t like to hear no. If you get an email requesting something, even if you know the answer is no, at least make it seem like you are trying your best. Instead of replying right away with a no, reply and let them know you are working on the issue and will update shortly. Wait a little while and then reply with the efforts you made to get the issue resolved. Just saying no immediately makes it seem like you aren’t even trying.

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