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Learn Tips For Effective Communication At Work

By Maureen Bauer
Human Resources Professional

One of the most common complaints that employees have about their organization is lack of effective communication. Regardless of what level position an individual holds, most would say that they would be happier if their company's communication system were improved.

Communication Is Imperative At WorkThe editors of Communication Briefings (Vol XIX, No. I) offer related advice in their article titled, "Communicating Better at Work". They state that employees often claim that management gives lip service to open communication but does little to really communicate with them.

This ineffective communication, the authors argue, often results in poor cooperation and coordination, lower productivity, undercurrents of tension, gossip and rumors, and increased turnover and absenteeism.

Their article goes on to explain what managers can do to improve their level of communication with their employees. However, I believe that the same tips can be helpful for anyone who interacts with coworkers on a daily basis. Very seldom do individuals understand their role in everyday miscommunication. Most people, if asked about the reason for a communication problem, point their finger at someone else.

Rather than waiting for the system to get better, you may be able to advance your career by actively working to assure that you are communicating as effectively as possible. Given the advice below (adapted from "Communicating Better at Work"), consider what areas may be communication pitfalls for you and strive to correct them.

  • Two-way street: Understand that communication is a two-way street. A conversation isn't complete when you have stated your information. Be sure to wait for a response before ending the conversation.
  • Face-to-face: Try to get some face-to-face time with your manager and coworkers. E-mail is great, but don't let them forget what you look like. When communicating sensitive issues, it is especially important to do so face-to-face.
  • Is it clear?: Ask yourself each time you communicate, is the message is clear? Most confusion and frustration in the workplace is caused by failing to be specific. For example, you may tell a coworker that you need the report as soon as possible. In your mind that means that you will have it within two days. Your coworker might hear your statement as: "I can adjust the timeframe to fit my priority list." It would be better to state that you need the report by the end of the day on Friday.
  • Listen: The best way to gain respect of your manager or coworkers is to be a good listener. This will bolster their opinion of you as a team member and they will more likely listen to you in return. A helpful hint -- ask questions to clarify your understanding and to show interest in the subject.
  • Build credibility: One of the fastest ways to lose credibility in someone's eyes is to betray their trust. When communicating with coworkers, only pass on information that is appropriate for the workplace. Being part of the rumor mill will not demonstrate good communication skills to the management.

Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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