If you want a successful career, effective communication is critical. Good workplace communication can help improve teamwork and collaboration, mitigate conflicts by reducing the chances of a misunderstanding and provide emotional support for every team member.
By becoming a better communicator, you will build better relationships with your employees, colleagues and clients. Other than boosting engagement, good communication can boost team buy-in and encourage creative thinking.
Effective business communication techniques
To communicate effectively, you need to be good at active listening, message delivery and asking for feedback. These are some of our favorite techniques for taking communication skills to the next level.
Adapt the message to your audience
One of the first things you should do for effective communication is learn how to adapt your communication (style and messaging) for different audiences. If you’re talking to your safety team about a new policy, they’re probably already aware of the problem, so you can get deeper in the weeds of execution details. But when you roll out the same policy to frontline employees, adjust your message. Most likely, you’ll take a broader approach. Explain the purpose of the policy and how it should be physically carried out in their day to day.
The same is true for any situation. You would address a group of kindergartners, tech entrepreneurs, cattle farmers and fitness professionals differently based on the topic, what you’re trying to convey and where the discussion is taking place.
Prepare for the message delivery
How are you standing? Is your body language open and inviting? Are you making lots of eye contact or looking at a screen?
Before any communication, whether it’s a one-on-one meeting or major speech, prepare yourself. You might spend a few minutes taking deep breaths before a presentation or review a meeting agenda before a huddle.
Be authentic as you communicate
According to a post from Quantified Communications, authentic leaders are 50% more passionate, with messages that are 29% clearer. They exude warmth and openness. When talking to colleagues and subordinates, they have a sense of immediacy and are fully present in the conversation.
People also want to work more with authentic leaders and communicators. Being trustworthy and reliable ultimately makes your job easier because people will want to collaborate with you.
Be enthusiastic and engaged when speaking
People are more receptive to positive stimuli. Smiling and showing your enthusiasm are top strategies for better communication. By using these techniques, you make people more likely to listen to you and buy into what you’re saying.
Manage nonverbal signals to control the message
According to body language researcher Albert Mehrabian, 55% of communication is nonverbal and 38% is vocal, while only 7% consists of spoken words.
This means it’s incredibly important to manage your nonverbal signals. If you’re constantly glancing at the clock with your feet pointed toward the door, your audience will think you aren’t interested in the conversation. For better communication, your nonverbal signals and spoken words must be in sync.
Practice active listening when people respond to you
Active listening isn’t just hearing what someone says. It involves showing your engagement with the discussion by asking questions and caring about what they say. By being an active listener, you demonstrate your interest in the other person’s message and build a stronger relationship with them. It also helps you remember details from the conversation.
You know those people who never forget a name? They’re probably active listeners. One tactic is repeating the person’s name back to them during an introduction. But you can also do this on projects by repeating directions or rephrasing what someone has said to make sure you fully understand. Nodding, making eye contact and leaning forward also show you’re engaged.
Ask for feedback from team members
One of the most effective and efficient ways to improve your communication is to ask for feedback. After all, most of us learn and grow through change.
Start by creating a process for giving feedback. This could be a brief, post-meeting survey or an in-person discussion. Also, implement an open-door policy so employees feel like they can approach you with any of their problems.
Probe for understanding to confirm you’re being heard
Asking questions shows the speaker how engaged you are in the conversation. It also gives you more information and a natural opportunity to practice active listening.
Handle conflicts respectfully
You won’t always agree with your team members, bosses and subordinates. Even if you won’t see eye to eye on everything, you do need to communicate in a respectful way if you want to keep your working relationship going. As a general rule, never say anything in anger you would want to take back once you calm down.
Use the right tools
Sometimes, the best tip for effective communication is figuring out which tool to use. There is a time and place for tools like email, Slack, one-on-one conversations, team discussions and group meetings. Each tool has its own benefits and limitations, so think carefully before choosing one tool over another.
- Email: People use email communication for simple updates and questions. If you want a group discussion or need to address a complex topic, email can quickly spiral out of control. For more complex matters, you should use a different tool.
- Slack: Slack is efficient for all types of conversations because you can do individual and group chats across different channels. It integrates with more than 2,000 apps like nTask, Time Doctor, Dropbox, Drift and Trello, so your teams can work in their other tools simultaneously without needing to switch contexts. Send a file in one project channel, give quick feedback in another or launch a meeting right in the chat.
- One-on-one conversations: One-on-one conversations are great for constructive criticism and individual training. But they aren’t ideal if you need to address things to a team or provide a simple update. Use one-on-one conversations for sensitive or complex exchanges.
- Team discussions: Team discussions are typically brief, on-the-fly chats. Use these for real-time group collaboration when there’s a specific goal in mind, or for stand-ups and scrums. Avoid using these for updates on projects that don’t overlap or where a large portion of attendees are unaffected.
- Group meetings: These are great if you need to train or update the entire group at once. Use these sparingly. If you’re conveying something that can be sent in a short message, do that! When you do need a group meeting, schedule it ahead of time and have a clear agenda with expected outcomes.
Timing is everything
If you need to discuss a project update or find an important document, you have to find the right moment. One of the top strategies for better communication is to pay attention to your colleagues’ crunch times and deadlines. When someone else is facing a looming deadline or a problem at work, they’ll have a difficult time hearing anything you’re trying to tell them.
Determine the time of day and platform where members of your team are most open to communication. For example, if they check and answer messages after 4 p.m., prepare your conversation and have it available for them within their preferred time frame.
Become a better communicator
Whether you want to move up the ladder or get your project across the finish line smoothly, effective communication is crucial. By using these simple techniques, you’ll not only be a more authentic, engaged speaker, you’ll be more effective at your job and working with colleagues.