The skill of communication, in the workplace, or elsewhere, is one of the most valuable skills you can have. Great communication in the workplace on your part can level the playing field and give you a leg up in your organization.
Communication in the workplace is a 2 way street. What many people fail to realize is that the skill of listening is every bit as important, if not more important, than speaking, in the overall context of workplace communication.
Although on the surface this may seem counter intuitive, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. To start with, most people, especially managers and supervisors, do not enjoy getting the sense that they are not being listened to. Besides, who ever you are communicating with, if you have not listened effectively, you will be unable to respond appropriately when you do speak. This is huge, because when you open your mouth in the workplace, your skills, knowledge, competency are all on display for both peers and management to see.
This does not necessarily translate to speaking often or in excess. Speaking “too much” in the workplace can work against you by making it appear that your messages are not relevant or appropriate, and can simply annoy coworkers and management. If you did a good job of listening, you will speak to the issue at hand, and not more or less than what is required.
Or, if you lack necessary information or experience to address the issue, you can verbalize that until you get the appropriate level of support, and can continue the dialog. Either way, when you do speak, make it clear, concise, and on point. This is key to effective communication in the workplace.
Beyond the back and fourth transfer of information that we commonly associate with communication in the workplace, remember to share any ideas you have that can improve a process or trim time from production. Any idea or suggestion that you can contribute that will have a positive net effect on your projects and organization stands a very good chance of standing out in the eyes of management – and being rewarded with advancement.
Remember that in the workplace, there are many different possible styles of communication. Some people are highly logical and verbose, while others are visual learners. Some do best with the written word, while others only seem to “get it” when it is explained verbally. Some are like Sgt. Friday on Dragnet, who always said “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
Don’t overload the visual learner with a 200 page written manual. Don’t talk a point to death when speaking to your tech guru who simply needs to know what parameters to include in programming routine. Adapt your communication style in the workplace, to fit your audience, including your audience-of-one in personal communications.
Play Well With Others
A core, basic skill that we begin to learn in Kindergarten and it applies every bit as much to the workplace. The fact that you are the brightest, best qualified person in your department does not give you the license to be “superior” to everyone on your team – even if it is true. If you adopt that attitude, thinking you can “get away with it” based on your superior value and knowledge, think again. Having an attitude of superiority or entitlement is something skilled leaders and managers will tune-in to this right away, and this attribute is not considered positive or healthy for any organization.
If you truly are “better” (brighter, more experienced, and better skilled) then make that superiority an asset to your group. Choose to have the attitude of a coach, mentor, and leader. Contribute your expertise to others that may be struggling in those areas you have mastered. This will add value by reducing inefficiency, as well as demonstrating to management that you have fundamental leadership skills, which is key to advancement.
When you get these core skills right, communication truly is the workplace equalizer, a source of personal power that can propel you to greater heights in your career. And as always, remember to use your new-found power for good.