Communication in the workplace is not the same as communicating outside work. You will have to work with all sorts of people. You will be communicating with them, building relationships, influencing and persuading them. All of this requires a type of thinking about communication that is different from that we use communicating outside work.

It is a much more conscious way of thinking about how you communicate with others. There is a lot to be learnt. There are skills, techniques and methods of communication that must be appreciated and used competently. Ensure you make a commitment to learn something new every day.

How we Communicate
When you communicate face-to-face with another person, you use three things. You use:

• The words you say, the actual text of your speech
• The way you say those words, your voice tone, pacing, accent and so on
• Your body language

Often you will put effort in to the words you say and how you will say them, and that is good. However, the most important element of the three is your body language. More that 55% of the both the message, and the impression people get of you, comes from your body language.

You may tell someone that you respect their point of view. These are respectful words, and you may well say them respectfully. However, if you do not make eye contact with the other person, you are sending a completely different message.

Learning about Body Language
You can learn about body language by becoming a people watcher. Identify the person that others will listen to, and who everyone respects. Watch the body language of this person. They will sit or stand squarely, head up and lots of eye contact. They will nod encouragingly when the other person speaks, and they will move to reflect the body language of the other person. An experienced communicator is doing this intentionally to make the other person feel comfortable.

The person who is not listened to, or respected will have different body language. They may look weak or submissive, with poor eye contact, slumped shoulders and poor eye contact. Alternatively, they may look aggressive, standing too close or pointing. Study body language, and reflect the body language of the person you want to communicate with, influence or persuade.

Other Key Communication Tips

1. Use Outcome Thinking rather than Reactive Thinking. Don’t just react to a situation, stop and think. Plan what you want to achieve in each communication. Focus on the outcome, and identify carefully exactly what outcome you want to achieve. Then plan the best strategy or method to achieve that outcome.

2. Think carefully about which channel of communication is most appropriate for this particular occasion. Would it be better to email, phone or meet the other person? Don’t depend on emails to communicate, they are impersonal and misunderstandings easily arise. Ensure you are also using more direct forms of communication, phone calls or face-to-face meetings.

3. Ensure that every communication is respectful of others. If you communicate in a way that will hurt, insult or lower the self-esteem of others, they will reject the message and you will damage the relationship. Remember that people in the workplace have their own relationships, and they will talk to each other. Take care to talk respectfully of everyone.

4. When you study others, identify different communication styles and learning styles. Appreciate that everyone is not like you. Other people are different. Your goal is to communicate in a way that THEY will understand, rather than you. This is particularly true of your Manager. Study him or her and use the communication style or methods that they use and prefer.

5. If you communicate with someone and the result is not what you wanted, do not just get angry or frustrated. Trying the same thing again will almost certainly get the same bad result. Accept that the communication method you used did not work. Try to figure out why. Was the channel the wrong one, was the approach bad, was the timing inappropriate? What would be a better way of achieving my goal?

6. Learn from good role models. If you can observe someone who clearly communicates effectively, watch how they do this. On one occasion, focus on their body language. How to they stand, how do they sit and when do they move? On another occasion listen to their language style, and analyze how they phrase things. This is one of the best ways of learning, becoming good at observing and taking the good pointers from others.

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