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Workplace Communication Part 1 of 7: Pre-Communication

Updated on March 15, 2012
Think calm to communicate.
Think calm to communicate. | Source

All aspects of the work day involve interaction with others, both written and verbal. Surprisingly, communication skills are not necessarily taught to us as we grow; they are skills we learn by trial and error. For some people, communicating is easy. Certain individuals have a natural flair for communicating and a strong sense of confidence or charisma that endears them to others. For the rest of us, those skills may not be as sharply honed as necessary to succeed when working with the public, co-workers, or even in social settings. This tutorial is designed to teach respectful communication and essential listening skills.

Perceived image is everything! Communication is:

55% non-verbal, 38% tone, 7% words

APPEARANCES

Work Space

  • Be organized and orderly. A cluttered work space is unprofessional.
  • Shared spaces: pick up own messes, dishes, etc.

Personal Presentation

  • Be clean and tidy.
  • Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
  • Wear your name badge, if appropriate.
  • Be on time for meetings, appointments and other engagements
  • Project confidence. When one has confidence, it demonstrates that you are worth the time and effort of others.
  • Show interest. Nothing kills a conversation quicker than rambling on about oneself. Get the other person to talk about themselves which helps the other person feel more at ease.
  • Language:
  1. Word choices: Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  2. Use well formed, concise sentences to express yourself.
  3. Steer away from slang.
  4. Use an assertive tone; ambiguity can project a lack of confidence.

THE EMOTIONAL FACTOR

Manage your emotions: When off-balance, let your emotions dissipate before communicating with others. Try to:

  • Buy time; ask for a moment or count to 5.
  • Check physical response; breathe deep or get a drink of water.
  • Change your perspective; use calming imagery.
  • Be objective; steer away from drama.
  • Check your tone; speak calmly.
  • Remain open-minded.

Help Others Manage Their Emotions:

  • Do not be reactive.
  • Let others vent or ask if they’d like to take a break.
  • Show empathy; respect the person’s feelings even if you do not understand them.
  • Ask for conditions of satisfaction.

BODY LANGUAGE

What is your body language saying? People will believe nonverbal messages (gestures, facial expression, or tone) more than words.

What do you want it to say and how do you want to say it?

  • Be cheerful! Fake it if you have to until it’s no longer fake.
  • Look a person directly in the eyes.
  • Articulate your words, clearly and slowly.
  • Speak loud enough to be heard.
  • Check posture: head straight, body straight, keep hand gestures in check.

Before you can be an active listener or an effective communicator, you must build a foundation. This all takes practice. Set aside some time to process daily mental checklist until your Pre-Communication structure is second-nature.


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