Effective communication in the workplace is something we can’t take for granted. How many times have you said to yourself, “But I thought he/she meant ……” Did you simply assume you knew what was meant or did you ask for clarification at the right time? Did you take some things for granted and then realize that something had been lost in translation? These guidelines will promote greater awareness and improved communication.
1. Be responsible for what you are saying, take ownership to ensure authentic communications.
2. To communicate effectively, speak specifically rather than generally. Avoid statements such as, “EVERYONE thinks that way” or “This ALWAYS happens” Do you really mean everyone and always?
3. No mind reading. Second-guessing by assuming you understand is the easiest way down the road to miscommunication and creation of defensiveness on the part of the listener. Allow others to take responsibility for what they are saying and ask for clarification, “What specifically do you mean/expect by that?”
4. Listen to your inner voice. Become aware of when you need to speak and when you don’t. It’s not always necessary speak, or respond just for the sake of having something to say.
5. Listen carefully and with respect to what another person is telling you. Always remember we have 2 ears and 1 mouth and they are to be used in that ratio. Do not formulate your response whilst someone is speaking. Wait until the speaker has finished so you have the chance to digest fully what has been communicated before you speak.
6. Be comfortable with silence in communication. Reflect on what was just said and check your motivations for what you are about to say. This may take a few moments. You are honoring the speaker and yourself.
7. Respect differences. People have differing ideas, thoughts and feelings from you. Don’t try to convert them to your way. Celebrate the diversity and what you can learn from it. Understand that we all filter information according to the experiences we have had in our lives and no two people see the same situation in the same light.
8. Be aware of your own barriers. Our prejudices, expectations, judgments and a need to control or always be right are obstacles to authentic communications.
9. Look and listen for the essence of a person within his or her words. Concentrate on finding their motivations and accept them for who they are.
10. Be able to laugh at yourself and with others, never laugh at them. Humour is a great diffuser of tension and misunderstanding. Humility is a strength that will ensure you see and experience the world as it truly is.