Having the ability to communicate with colleagues, upper management, clients, and others is essential in any type of business. But sometimes, good communication isn’t just about presenting information. It’s about understanding each person and creating a strategy that works for your business. However, many people have difficulty communicating effectively at work because of the following four barriers:
- Stress and out-of-control emotion
- Lack of focus
- Inconsistent body language
- Negative body language
These barriers have a direct impact on the four skills of effective communication in the workplace.
Your ability to assess body language and other instances of nonverbal communication becomes hindered when you are under a great deal of stress or experiencing difficult emotions. When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, you’re likely to misread other people. This can lead to lashing out or sending negative nonverbal signals. Learning how to calm down quickly will allow you to engage in effective communication in the workplace during challenging situations.
A lack of focus can do more damage than you might expect, harming your ability to practice engaged listening. Engaged listening depends on your ability to focus on the words of your conversation partners. Multitasking also harms your ability to focus. For instance, avoid working on the computer when you are talking on the phone. You may think you can juggle many things at once, but science tells us we aren’t as good at it as we think.
Inconsistent body language will also harm your ability to communicate effectively in the workplace. If your body language is inconsistent with what you’re saying, this sends a signal to your audience that you are dishonest. For example, shrugging your shoulders while stating a fact will lead your audience to question the credibility of your fact. Make sure your gestures, posture, and facial expressions always match what you are saying.
Negative body language can also contradict your verbal communication. Using positive body language, such as maintaining eye contact and smiling, is crucial to effective communication in the workplace. Positive body language communicates engagement and interest. Negative body language, such as slumped shoulders or avoiding eye contact, communicate the opposite message.
It’s important to remain conscious of your posture, gestures, and facial expressions. Practicing effective time management and taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health will help you combat barriers to effective communication in the workplace.
4 Strategies for Effective Communication in the Workplace
The following best practices will bolster your ability to communicate effectively at work. Always actively practice the four skills of engaged listening, nonverbal communication, managing stress, and assertiveness when carrying out these best practices.
- Consider a situation carefully before taking any action. This will help manage emotional outbursts or rash decisions made under pressure. This will also help you communicate your ideas clearly and rationally when you do act.
- Always gather as much information as you can before making a decision. Confirm this information to ensure that it is correct before coming to any conclusions.
- Don’t take criticism personally. Any feedback you receive is meant to help you. Receiving heavy criticism on a project isn’t an attack on your talent or work ethic. Always incorporate feedback positively.
- Whenever possible, meet with team members or subordinates in person. Email communication is easy, but it lacks the benefits of face-to-face communication. In-person meetings will help cultivate professional relationships and allow for rich dialogue. For example, during an in-person brainstorming session, team members can bounce ideas off each other, develop close collaborations, and create a final product the whole team can be proud of.
This workplace communication guide has reviewed the skills, best practices, and barriers surrounding professional workplace communication. These best practices and the four skills for effective communication in the workplace will help bolster office morale, overall team productivity, and individual mental and emotional wellness. Clear, open, and honest communication practices lead to a happy team, and happy teams produce amazing work.
At Marlin we provide employers with the best tools in visual communication, strengthening teams and enabling the practice of effective workplace communication skills. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.