You aren’t going to get very far if you don’t have good communication skills in the workplace.  It’s the difference between productive synergy and a group of confused employees struggling to get through the day. Messy communications can lead to severe blunders that disturb the progress of your company and can also negatively impact employee satisfaction. Perfecting your communication skills is a simple step you can take to make your office a better place to work.

Learn to Listen to Criticism

Criticism is something you should use to help you grow. Your first instinct may be to take it personally, but you need to learn to think differently. You need to be able to separate productive criticism from spiteful criticism. Sometimes, a critic is having a bad day and taking it out on you, but other times, they may be genuinely attempting to help you. If you’re not sure, ask questions. Politely exit tense situations and acknowledge productive criticism.

When Possible, Speak One on One

Things are going to be busy sometimes, and that may cause you to opt for an email or a note to communicate a piece of information. In your rush, you may omit critical information or come across in a way that’s unclear. Taking a few extra seconds to pop your head into someone’s office and give them a clearer message can avoid misconception and demonstrate your level of care. Trying to schedule more meetings and progress checks will also add a new level of clarity.

Deal with Issues, Not People

A project fails spectacularly right at the deadline. The person in charge of the paperwork left half of it unfinished, and came in late for two days. It’s very easy to put a target on that person’s back when you’re disappointed. Take a while to cool off before you express that frustration. Maybe half of the paperwork was unfinished because that person required more information from someone else who failed to provide it. Maybe they came in late for two days because they worked through the night. Never attempt to communicate with someone while you’re angry.

Keep an Open Door for Questions

If you have a set of instructions for a task and you believe they may be vague, take initiative. Asking for clarification rather than assuming you know how to fill in the blanks is a much safer bet. On the other hand, if you’re composing instructions for another individual, try to be as comprehensive as possible. Make sure that person knows they can ask you for help if they find themselves stumped.

Always Speak Modestly

If you’re throwing around how much you know and everything you’re capable of, your arrogant attitude is going to overshadow anything you have to say. If people find you obnoxious, they won’t take you seriously. All communication should be genuine and honest. There’s a difference between being confident and throwing your weight around, and you need to know where to draw the line. Others will recognize your accomplishments without being repetitively reminded of them.

Become a Good Listener

You may not be a lackluster listener intentionally. If you have a lot of details running through your head, sifting through a conversation for the bottom line can keep things from becoming overwhelming. The only problem is that if your focus is predominantly on the bottom line, you’re missing the small stuff that can really make a difference. If you’re going to talk to someone and you expect them to retain that information, you need to make sure you’re extending them the same courtesy.

Changing your perspective will open new doors. Communication has the ability to make or break a company, and you need to remember it’s a two way street. Both talking and listening while maintaining the required level of respect will strengthen bonds and make for a rock star work team.

Tess Pajaron works at Open Colleges – Australia’s online education specialists, where she discharges the duties of the Community Manager. Her free time she usually spends traveling and reading.

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