8 Keys To Effective Communication In The Workplace

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Sometimes the workplace is a caustic environment: coworkers gossip and form cliques, supervisors pick favorites, teams fall apart. Whether it’s an office or a construction site, the workplace can bring the best and worst out of people, and the way people treat each other through a shift can make or break a day, and sometimes the wrong type of dynamic can ruin a job altogether.

Read on for some keys to effective communication in the workplace to avoid tension and drama.

  • Be patient. Even if you work in a fast-paced job or industry, you can’t expect everyone to move at the same speed.
  • Package constructive criticisms with positive reinforcement. Nobody likes to hear that they did a bad job, but most of us are receptive to constructive criticism if it’s delivered kindly and respectfully. One of the best ways of issuing feedback involves packaging the good with the bad. Instead of just pinpointing where someone messed up, let them know what they did that was good. If, for example, you’re struggling with a particular co-worker’s tardiness with regards to assignments, you might say something like, “James, I really love your attention to detail and commitment to a high-quality product, but it’s important that we submit our reports on time so that the rest of the team can follow your lead in a timely manner.”
  • Listen to what your coworkers and employees are saying. This might seem obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to gloss over what other people are thinking and feeling.
  • Avoid gossip. Even if you trust your water-cooler clique, the potential fall-out is rarely worth the short-term glee of gossip. Vent to your spouse, complain about work to your parents, but don’t gossip at work. Not only could you end up getting tangled up in an office blowout, but gossip is almost never a productive activity.
  • Meet face-to-face as often as possible. It’s easy to forget you’re working with real people if you’re always speaking via e-mail. Especially if you don’t work together often in person, meeting face-to-face helps maintain a connection to your coworkers.
  • Encourage feedback from others on your own performance. Especially if you don’t think highly of your cohorts, it’s easy to not think about your own personal performance. One way of holding yourself to a high standard includes a system of checks and balances. It’s not always fun to hear it, but being held accountable can help us maintain a level playing field at work.
  • Be clear about expectations. It’s not fair to be mad at George for being late on something if he didn’t know it was due in the first place. Frequent and transparent communication helps everyone stay on the same page, which is especially important if you’re working on a team project or need to collaborate with others on a daily basis.
  • Talk it out. If you’re having trouble with a specific individual or even a whole group, confronting the issue head-on is usually the best option. Instead of a last-minute yelling match, plan out what you want to say and practice with a friend, that way you can avoid petty comments that rise to the top when your blood is boiling.
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Jay is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and music journalist.

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