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How to Improve Workplace Communication (And Increase Your Success!)

How to Improve Workplace Communication (And Increase Your Success!)

Good communication between you, your staff, your clients, and anyone else you deal with regularly is vital. Ultimately, the more clearly you are able to share what it is you want, what you expect, how you want things done, what changes need to be made and every other piece of communication relevant to running a successful business, the more you’re able to grow in whatever direction you’re intent on going. So how do you communicate in this fashion?

Think Before You Speak

Have you ever found yourself surprised by a situation at work, only to immediately say something that you later regret? While offering a quick response purely out of emotion is understandable, since we’re all human beings with a whole range of feelings, it could really do some damage to your business.
At a minimum, it can create hurt feelings and drive a wedge between you and the person you’re communicating with. Worst case scenario, if you say something really bad, you could potentially get sued. Thinking before you speak can save you from both of these negative results. It may be difficult to do in the moment, but it could save you from a lifetime of regret.
To help yourself stop before saying something you shouldn’t, you could always excuse yourself from the conversation or room so you can gather your thoughts and take a couple minutes to breathe, calming yourself down in order to think more rationally. If you’re able, another option is to write down your negative emotions so you can get them out in a way that doesn’t cause you harm.
This also gives you time to collect all necessary facts about whatever is going on, something that Arkadin Collaboration Services says enables you to “back up your position…with numbers and cold hard information.” This enables you to create the best response based on the situation itself, irrespective of your thoughts or emotions.

Imagine You’re An Outsider

When something happens in your business and you can feel yourself getting angry, upset, or frustrated, try to view the situation as an outsider so you speak with less emotion. One way to get yourself to do this is to imagine there is a camera crew filming the event, relaying your response to an entire audience of people who are waiting for your reaction. This will help keep you in check.
Additionally, ask yourself, as unemotionally as possible, is there some other explanation for what happened, other than the one that originally entered your mind that set you off? Also, what solutions exist, and which ones offer the most benefits for everyone involved? The better you become at removing emotion, the easier it will be to arrive at answers that can move your company forward versus holding it back.

Don’t Assume People Can Read Your Mind

Just as relationship experts advise that you remember that your spouse cannot read your mind, the same is true when it comes to your business. Your staff don’t necessarily know your vision for your company and all of the steps you intend to take to get you there, so they may have a hard time understanding why you run your business the way you do.
To remedy this, regularly share with your employees what you see as the direction of the company, as well as how you expect to arrive at your destination. The more clearly you can portray your vision, where it is you want to see your business go, the better they’ll be able to make decisions that support that.

When Possible, Communicate Face-to-Face

In this day and age, we rely heavily on media to communicate with our employees, clients, suppliers, and business partners. While this can help speed things up by sending emails, texts, and instant messages, there are many benefits of engaging in face-to-face communication when you can. These include:

  • Creating more trust and credibility between the communicating partners
  • Being less open to misinterpretation, thanks in part to being able to see non-verbal cues
  • Forming stronger, more effective relationships

Of course, you can’t always meet with people in person, but if it’s a situation that involves an important topic or is more complex, a face-to-face meeting may be the best way to go.

Deliver Bad News the Right Way

As an employer, there are going to be times when your communication involves delivering bad news, whether it is a negative employee review, telling a client you can’t honor his or her request, or informing a vendor that you’re switching to another company. While there is really no way to avoid sharing this type of message from time to time, the way you handle it can make hearing the information better for the receiver instead of worse.
According to Mind Tools, an online business devoted to career development, it helps to first prepare yourself emotionally so you know what you’re going to say. This involves anticipating how the person will feel when hearing the bad news and coming up with possible solutions or ways to lessen the pain, such as offering ways to effectively cope with a change in job duties. It also helps to deliver the news in the best place (a private setting if one-on-one) at the best time (preferably, as soon as you are apprised of the situation).
If you have to communicate bad news in writing, University of Richmond suggests that you “buffer the opening” by starting with good news or a compliment to the reader. Additionally, finish with a positive statement so the bad news is in between the two, increasing the likelihood that the person will hopefully feel better, despite hearing the unwelcome news. Also remember to be empathetic so they feel heard, and provide reasons so they understand your position, as both of these can make the interaction as pleasant as it can possibly be.
Doing these five things can make you a better communicator, a better businessperson, and thus the owner of a more successful business.
Any that I’ve missed? Feel free to add them below!
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.