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How to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work

Communication impacts every area of our professional lives. It is the cornerstone to building trusting relationships with others, managing our time effectively, and accomplishing our professional goals. If you are in a management position, effective communication skills are key to you and your team’s effectiveness. However, not everyone is naturally skilled at communicating.

Whether you feel you are already good at communicating or know you should improve, reviewing the following tips can help you refine your communication skills. 

Determine what method of communication to use. Before communicating with your team, client, or supervisor, determine what kind of communication is most appropriate. A busy manager may feel it’s easier to simply send a text to an employee, but it’s important to note that this is not always the most effective. If what you need to say is not easily understood in a few sentences, it’s better to send an email. If the meaning of the email could be distorted, it’s better to call or speak face to face. And always remember that any sensitive news should be communicated in person, such as a promotion or having to let someone go. 

Determine the style of communication that is best for the circumstance. Everyone communicates differently, so to be an effective communicator you have to know how your employees or clients communicate. Think about how your employees communicate with each other: do they use graphs, presentations, text-only emails, phone calls, or something else? One employee may excel at receiving instructions over the phone, while another may do better seeing a graph of the project. Not only will changing your style of communication avoid mishaps, but it will also make your employees more effective. 

Action tip: Think about your message and who you are sending it to. Will the message be easy to understand if you use this method of communication? Will the recipient easily understand the method of communication you are going to use? Adjust the method and style of communication accordingly. 

Finally, think about your body language. Remember that it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Your body language could be sending mixed signals to your team, clients, or employees. Think about your posture and eye contact when speaking to others. If you look at the floor while communicating with an employee, they may feel that you lack confidence in the project or in them. If you are speaking to a client with your arms crossed, they may feel that you are not at ease in their presence.