How to Communicate Better At Work

how to communicate better with colleaguesIt is this time of the year again, Christmas is coming closer and the stress level at work is rising. “Everything” has to get done before Christmas. Crazy, but that’s how it is.

During these times when the stress level is high, there is more potential for discussions and conflicts at work.

I remember last year, when the big boss walked into the office and told me to provide him a solution for a problem we had with an internal client within the next two days. Two days. He said. My reaction was basically nonexistent, I don’t know why really.

Well, I gave it a try. Two days later, I walked into his office to present him two scenarios of how I thought we could solve the situation. I probably did not present it well, but my solutions were not accepted. Could I have done better? Probably.

Four Principles on How to Communicate Better at Work

Today, I would like to share with you my big 4 lessons learned from such experiences to communicate better at the work place.

  • Stay professional and show respect. No matter how much or how little you know the colleague you are currently working with, staying professional will allow you to be respected. Ignoring gossip from other colleagues is a great point to start. Be on time. Be prepared when you get to the meeting. Stay calm when you get an unfriendly message. Wear suitable clothing, although this might be a no-brainer.
  • Be clear. A little while ago I wrote an article about how to say “No” at work in a polite way. It is okay to say “No” sometimes, but it has to be done in the right way. But being clear is not only about saying “No”. Being clear is also about speaking S.L.O.W.L.Y. Especially if you do not have the same native language as your colleagues. Be patient with yourself and with them. It is easy to get frustrated, but stay on top.
  • Be fair and put yourself in their shoes. When you work in a team and you split up tasks, be fair and frank with sharing and agreeing about what can be done by when. Avoid taking up too many tasks. Try to share it evenly so that you don’t have to do all the work and the others can contribute to (and vice versa). If you think someone treats you unfairly or simply differently, then try to put yourself in their shoes. Maybe there was a base of misunderstanding on their side?
  • Communicate in a productive manner. Start by sharing your availabilities, if you want to avoid communication overload. Give yourself fixed timelines how many times per day you will check your emails and stick with it. This also means to disconnect when you are off. Even if you get an email at 5 am on a Sunday morning, I hope you will only see it and reply on a Monday morning J. Encourage the people around you to adopt similar patterns, that way you can arrange yourself better with each other.

And my last tip on this matter: accept that people are not like you and they do not necessarily have the same expectations (this is a hard one for me, too!). Everyone communicates differently. Even your partner, your kids or your parents. We all do, so the possibility of misunderstanding is enormous. Accept it, be flexible and most importantly be ready to understand other people’s needs as well.

Your turn

What do you think about these five principles? Which one is most important to you?


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