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How to Communicate Effectively with Your Colleagues

Communicating effectively with your colleagues minimises misunderstandings and maximises work efficiency. Effective communication also produces healthy working relationships, and allows you and your colleagues to resolve issues in a collaborative manner. This will in turn create a more fun and less stressful work environment.

Here are some ways to communicate better with your colleagues at work:

Listen actively

Listening actively shows that you’re interested in what your colleague has to say and that you respect them. Listen to them closely, orienting your body towards them, and look at them directly as they speak. While they’re talking, don’t interrupt them. You’ll only be able to understand what they’re trying to say if you listen to them closely and wait for them to finish speaking before you reply. Then ask questions to clarify any issues you may have. Most importantly, don’t email or text while someone’s talking to you.

Speak with discretion and talk face to face

Speaking with discretion prevents any misunderstandings with your colleagues. Face to face communication helps with building trust and openness, and it enables you to sense and understand someone’s viewpoint and feelings. Also talk face to face to resolve disagreements or fix complex problems, and use clear, friendly and polite language.

Offer constructive criticism

When giving feedback, leave your personal feelings out of it and make sure your workmate fully understands what you’re telling them. If someone did a great job, offer positive reinforcement and also give them improvement tips without being mean or bossy.

Build and earn trust

For effective communication to occur, everyone must trust and respect each other. To build trust with your colleagues, it’s important that you act consistently and with integrity. To earn their trust, communicate clearly, collaboratively and confidentially with them while showing them respect. Clear and concise communication will allow your colleagues to understand and then trust you. As a result, there will be more cooperation and less conflict in the workplace. Your main objective for communicating with colleagues is to lay the foundations for trust.

Get personal but don’t be too casual

Get to know your colleagues better by talking about your personal lives during breaks or after work. This is also a good way to build trust. However, it’s important that you don’t get too casual in your conversations, especially in the office, as it might make the other person uncomfortable. Make sure that all communications, including your work emails, phone calls and meetings are professional, and avoid using offensive language in the office.

Consider communication preference and technology etiquette

Some people like communicating via email while others prefer talking on the phone, texting, or using social media or instant messaging. Use the method of contact that the other person prefers. If someone doesn’t answer a call but responds quickly to an email, then use email to contact them. However, using email and social media makes it hard to determine the tone of a message. To avoid misunderstandings, it can sometimes be better to speak face to face.

If you won’t be in the office for a long time, set up an automated message letting your colleagues know that you’re not in the office and when to expect a reply from you, or who they can contact when you’re away.

Tell them how what you’re communicating is relevant to them

Your communication is only relevant if it’s related to what the other person wants, needs, fears or desires. Figure out how what you’ll say or write is relevant to your colleague and then tell them about it. If what you’re communicating is indeed relevant to them, then it will keep them listening to or reading what you’re trying to say.

Keep spoken and written communications short, simple and direct

Don’t expect your colleague to listen to and read everything that you’re trying to tell them because there’s just not enough hours in the day. Try to avoid giving them complex explanations and recommendations with the expectation they will understand everything straight away. It’s best to keep your communications short, simple and direct.

It’s also advised that you keep emails to one or two paragraphs to prevent people from becoming bored and skipping over the most important part of the message. If you do have a lot of information to cover use bullet points or subheadings to make the email easy to scan for recipients.

Overall, when communicating with your colleagues you should maintain confidentiality, and treat them as you’d like to be treated. It’s also important to have open lines of communication between colleagues to better serve each other.