Learning & Development

6 Tips to Improve Workplace Communication

To better communicate with bosses, colleagues and customers, match your message to your audience, and don’t forget the nonverbal skills, says a new DVD plus book program.

A recent Daily Advisor listed the ability to communicate effectively as one of the secrets to success in any organization.

We discussed it in terms of reaching senior management level, but it’s vital all the way from the mailroom to the corner office. Without communication, there is no organization. Teams can’t work together. Customers are misunderstood. Leaders may try to lead, but few know how to follow.

That’s why we were happy to discover one of the best training programs on effective communication we’ve seen, called Communication Skills: What Everyone Needs to Know. It’s a 30-minute DVD based on a well-known book by Deborah S. Roberts, a copy of which is included. More important are the basic communication strategies detailed in the program. Here is a sampling:

–Communication begins before conversation. As the program’s authors note, studies show that some 40% of what’s communicated comes through body language and tone of voice. Both must match the message being imparted. When you tell a subordinate that a mistake he or she has made is “no big deal,” don’t roll your eyes and wince. On the phone, voice tone is paramount; never compete with the conversation by eating or allowing loud background noise as you talk.

–Name your counterpart. Nothing establishes rapport better than acknowledging others by name. But in today’s transient world, names are easy to forget or confuse. “Connect the person’s name with someone famous,” the program advises. “If you meet George, mentally connect him to George Washington.”

–Start with small talk. Chatting amiably opens the door to more substantial messages but, advise the authors, gauge your counterpart’s reaction so as to not go on too long … and never chat about workplace confidences or gossip.

–Tailor your conversation to your audience. Talks with a boss, co-worker, or customer each require a different style. With bosses, pick the right time and ask honestly for what you need and what they can reasonably deliver. For colleagues, be humble, reliable, and discreet. And if customers call with problems, listen, apologize, and offer a solution. However, a natural smile when it’s appropriate, and even on the phone, applies in all cases.

–In writing, match your format to your audience. A short e-mail is fine for inviting a colleague to lunch, but use a more formal letter to ask an important customer to dinner. Also, remember that others beyond your intended recipient and far into the future may read written words. Never write what you wouldn’t want openly read.

–Meet when it makes sense to meet. Nothing irritates colleagues so much as useless meetings, the authors say. Their advice: Meet only when you need to, with only who you need, and always with a formal agenda. End the meeting by praising participants for something done previous to the meeting. That sends everyone off on a positive note.

The program goes on to address the communications aspects of negotiation, reporting bad news and resolving conflicts, all of which build on the strategies above, and all of which are evidence that good communication skills can be learned when the training program is right.

If you think communication at your organization could stand improvement, we recommend you consider this program. A 30-day trial, with no obligation to purchase, is available by clicking the link below.

Talk is Not Cheap!
Especially when it’s conducted in the workplace. Bad communication can disrupt work teams and anger customers. But training for better communication doesn’t have to be expensive when you use BLR’s 30-minute DVD program, Communication Skills: What Everyone Needs to Know. Try it free for 30 days! Read more.