10 Communication Tips for the Workplace

Four people in a conversation at CapeSpace

Communication in the workplace is crucial to success. Our words and phrases can build a healthy environment, or they may create conflict on every side. Many times it’s not so much what we say as how we say it, and the subtle effects that can have on others. Here are 10 tips that will create successful communications on the job.

1. Be Specific

Using words such as Always, Never, Whenever, and Sometimes when discussing an issue with someone immediately puts them on the defense. They will want to argue that there are times that the situation is different, and feel like they aren’t being given credit for those times. Instead of using generalizations, address the actual, specific incident or situation with them, and the channel of communication remains open and healthy.

2. Don’t Disagree

When you tell someone “I Disagree”, it immediately creates a wall of confrontation within them. Replace “I Disagree” with “I see it another way” or “I see it differently”, and they will be open to explain their thoughts to you, and willing to listen to your perspectives.

3. Avoid starting sentences with “I need…”

Starting your requests with “I need…” eventually will create an image of you as a needy, consistently unsatisfied coworker. Begin the sentence with the actual subject, and it shifts the focus to what needs to be accomplished. For example, instead of saying “I need your hours for the week by the end of the day.” you could say, “Your hours need to be submitted by the end of the day so that I can submit the payroll. Thank you.”

4. Be You

If you introduce yourself by saying “My name is ______”, you sound like you are trying to explain who you are, as if your existence is a mystery or needs explanation. Instead, if you say “Hi, I’m _______”, you place your actual self into the introduction, and you convey confidence, boldness and personality.

5. Be Forgiving

When someone apologizes to you or portrays concern for interrupting or troubling you, saying “That’s okay” actually acknowledges that the infraction occurred and makes them feel worse. Instead, if you reply with “I forgive you”, the offense is released and the slate is wiped clean.

6. Don’t Be Sorry

If you begin a communication with “I hate to ask you” or “Sorry to bother you”, it can be annoying to the coworker. If they are doing their job, they expect interactions and workplace requests. Get right to the point. That shows them that you value their response.

7. Brag On Them

Sometimes it’s easy to brag on ourselves, which can become an annoyance to others. In reality, most workplace successes involve the whole team. Instead of just boasting about your accomplishments, thank those around you who may have assisted, supported or even just encouraged you toward victory. The entire team feels successful, and everyone benefits from your work.

8. Discuss

We tend to use phrases that spur hostility such as “Why would you do that?” or “What were you thinking?”. These will instantly create conflict, and that sets the stage for unproductive communications. Instead, we can begin to discuss the issues openly by explaining our feelings in those circumstances. “When you _______ I feel _____because____”. The channels of sharing are opened, and steps toward resolution can be made.

9. Try Suggesting

Many times we address a situation by saying “You should…” and stating what we think needs done. This creates a dominating tone, and it sounds like a direct order. Replacing that with “I suggest that we…” offers your solution to the issue, without the confrontation.

10. You’re Welcome

When someone thanks you for your input, replying with “No problem”,”Not a problem” or “No worries” implies that, under certain circumstances, it could be a problem. That creates an uncomfortable interaction. Instead, saying “You’re Welcome” shows sincere appreciation and encourages ongoing communication.

Incorporating these techniques into our workplace interactions can bring about healthy changes in the work environment, in our coworkers, and in ourselves.