No matter what industry you’re in, no matter the size of your company, no matter your role — effective communication is key to success. If you aren’t actively working to convey your ideas in a way others can understand, miscommunication and misinterpretation can get in the way of even your most straightforward goals.
In order to safeguard your work and your workplace relationships, it is important to keep the following aspects of effective communication in mind:
1. Say What You Mean in the Simplest Way Possible
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” While this might not apply to every single discussion ever had, the main idea is important.
Conveying your ideas in a simple, direct, and concise manner will make it easier for others to understand what you mean and leave less room for interpretation or pontificating. If you are unable to communicate your idea in its simplest form, it will be reflected in how well the other people in the conversation understand when they have the opportunity to speak.
If you find yourself becoming frustrated by others' inability to understand what you mean, keep in mind that while the communication gap could very well be the result of their inability to comprehend larger concepts in general, it is more likely a manifestation of ineffective communication.
2. Listen and Process What Others are Saying
In order to communicate effectively, you must have the ability to listen — and use it. To make the most out of a discussion, this means not only allowing others to speak, but actively processing what they are saying and how it relates to the topic or issue at hand.
This may seem like common sense to many, but the truth is that it rarely happens. The better you are at active listening, the more you will be able to understand where someone else might be coming from - and vice versa.
3. Separate Your Emotions From The Larger Goal of the Conversation
Workplace discussions can have significant effects on an individual's workload or general happiness at work, so many people have a tendency to allow their need to convey their emotions to override the importance of communicating their ideas in a given conversation.
This makes a great deal of sense but, truthfully, it can get get in the way. Putting your own emotions and ego before your ideas and the ideas of others will hinder your ability to thoughtfully participate in any kind of real discussion.
Being passionate about what you are working on or discussing is by no means a weakness, but it can be distracting if those emotions take precedence to the point of derailing an entire conversation. When that happens, everyone is left worse off than they were when the conversation began.
4. Give Others A Chance To Let You Know They Understand
As a conversation progresses, it can be easy to become sidetracked or frustrated if someone misses a key point or argument along the way. Each time you introduce a new idea or argument into the discussion, you can prevent this frustration by pausing to allow the other parties to demonstrate that they understand before moving forward.
Think about it, only you really know what is inside your brain. Getting others to understand exactly what’s going on in there depends on how well you can articulate that particular idea or concept. By actively making sure each party understands before the dialogue continues, you are ensuring the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
At the end of the day there are many actions you can take to improve communication in the workplace, but a lot of time it comes down to being respectful and treating one another’s ideas as valid and worthy of discussion.
Pay attention to what others are saying and make sure you’ve communicated your ideas clearly before allowing the discussion to get heated or sidetracked, and you’ll be helping move your work environment toward peak efficiency and positivity.
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