Effective Communications and Honing Your Skills

When so many things in a workplace are uncertain, dealing with challenges inherent to communicating with coworkers and peers is the last thing you want to go wrong. Nonetheless, communication experts cite that inner-communication issues in the workplace can fester into stress, illness, loss of motivation, and high turnover. Aside from improving listening skills and abandoning motivated discussions that aim to prove one person is "right" and the other is "wrong", the tips below provide quick tips for improved communications.

Tips for Improved Communications
1. Choose carefully - The choice to communicate by email, cell/telephone, or in person should be carefully considered. If there is a chance your message could be interpreted as ambiguous by the receiver, then you probably shouldn't communicate by email. Also, if your time is limited or your call can be dropped, a quick email or written communication may be better. In other words, weigh the best option before you choose your communication medium. Also remember that when you're fatigued or emotional, a communication sent by any mode might require a follow-up to assure that your tone didn't destroy your message.
2. Practice good listening skills - Good communications begin with good listening skills. To encourage good listening remember to remind yourself and others that their input will directly lead to other ideas and responses guiding how your organization performs and operates.
3. Ask questions - When in doubt or confused, take the first step to seek clarity. Foster a relationship where you can comfortably ask questions as to why a decision was made and what policy or procedure certain decisions were based on. If critical to your understanding, ask if a copy of any written policies or procedures is available so you can improve your comprehension and avoid future misunderstandings.
4. Stay calm - Speak as you would like to be spoken to. If you find yourself becoming upset, breathe, excuse yourself, or ask if you can take a break to return to a discussion when its not heated and to effectively address any lingering issues.
5. Interrupt public re-dressings - If you are a manager, avoid disciplining employees in front of their peers unless the issue absolutely must be addressed publicly, in the moment, to avert a greater disaster.
6. Focus - By focusing on issues, and not the person attached to them, you can keep communications effective. No matter how angry you are or the other person you are communicating with, keeping workplace discussions as neutral as possible to ensure communications are successful.
7. Avoid Assumptions - While you may know how things work, consider that not everyone else knows the same. Do share details with others that you may take for granted. Bottom line, assume nothing and be specific when you communicate with others.
8. Keep it Respectful - Always mind your manners, no matter how comfortable you feel with another or how well you believe you are understood. Thank you's and sorry's can go a long way to further communications when needed.

Author's Bio: 

Crystal M. O’Brien, Esq. serves as MMC’s Employment Law Manager/Corporate Counsel. After receiving a double-degree in psychology and sociology from OberlinCollege in 1988, Ms. O’Brien earned a workers’ compensation insurance claims adjusting license in 1991. She completed post-graduate studies in Human Resources Management at Portland State University’s Graduate School of Urban & Public Affairs from 1996-1998 and earned a Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Dispute Resolution from Willamette University College of Law in 2001. Immediately following law school, Ms. O’Brien served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Faith Ireland (ret.) of the Washington State Supreme Court. She is licensed to practice law in California Washington as well as before U.S. District Courts in each state.Collectively, Ms. O’Brien has 19 years of litigation experience.