A. Promote Active Listening Skills
1. Excellent communication at work is rooted in a strong sense of understanding. Knowing your coworkers’ and clients’ perspectives can help you to better communicate and collaborate with them. And empathy starts with active listening. According to the Harvard Business Review, active listening comprises four main factors:
2. Great listeners ask questions, challenge theories, and generally check for understanding throughout a conversation. They develop a two-way conversation where they’re constantly trying to enhance their understanding of what the other person is saying.
3. Great listeners create a secure, supportive and safe environment. This means building the other person up and giving support when appropriate.
4. Great listeners present feedback. HBR noticed that people like to receive helpful, positive suggestions while explaining a condition or problem. Adept active listeners help to provide these solutions once they’ve understood the other person’s perspective.
These features are actual in-person active listening, but there are comparable talents for actively reading an email or message from a colleague. You can ask yourself questions like “What is this person trying to say?” or “Do I completely understand where this person is coming from?” before responding. Even if you’re over email, you can also ask follow-up questions for more context, definition, or challenging conditions. This will aid you to eventually land on a response that makes your recipient or listener feel heard and understood.
B. Remember Your Audience
A considerable part of empathy involves focusing on the wants and needs of the other person you’re interacting with. When you’re writing to one person, active listening skills can help you discover these needs. If you’re writing an email to your whole team, or a blog post for your website, though, this might not be as easy.
It doesn’t matter what you’re writing. Asking three central questions will help you to communicate more effectively:
- What is the goal of this communication?
- What am I trying to say?
- Who am I speaking to?
The third question challenges you to consider the audience of your communication. These people will read your email, respond to your presentation in the meeting, or comment on your blog post. Whether this audience is one person or thousands, having a general idea of who you’re writing to will help you to improve your communication.
C. Keep it Clear and Brief
If you want to improve your communication skills at work, try decreasing as many words from your email, Slack message, or presentation as possible. How quickly can you say what you’re trying to say? If the meaning of your message changes after you make these edits, you may have gone too far. But if a message says the same thing in fewer words, that’s a great start to better communication.
Briefly put, fewer words are usually better, particularly in professional settings. But excellent work communication skills go beyond easy-to-read messages. It would help if you also considered your word choice in all work communication since work language and hard-to-understand language can make your recipient more confused than ecstatic.