How to Participate in Workplace Communication
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Accomplishing vital work tasks is rarely a solo endeavor. To be optimally productive and produce the best products, communication is necessary. To be an active participate in workplace communication, you need to understand and follow the communication process. By following this process, you can maintain respectfulness to those with whom you are communicating and promote the speedy and effective exchange of ideas.
Listen actively. When you are receiving a message, look at the speaker and strive for eye contact. Try to rephrase the message in your head as you receive it. Nod your head or provide other nonverbal cues to make it clear that you are receiving and understanding the message. By listening in this interactive manner, you make the speaker feel respected and improve your chances of truly understanding the message being sent.
Stay on topic. Even if you have a question about another workplace issue, to be respectful to your communication partners you should not veer off topic. You will be optimally effective if you first conclude your discussion of the current topic before broaching another one. If you do attempt to hijack the conversation, you likely will offend your communication partners.
Study the subtext. To be an ultimately effective communicator, you must understand what underlies the message you receive. Management consultant Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.” Instead of taking a message at face value, use what you know about the message sender and her feelings about the topic to make educated guesses as to what she may mean.
Answer “yes” whenever you can. If your first response to any question is always, “no,” members of your workplace will be unlikely to involve you in communication as they already know the result. Instead of answering no, always try to meet in the middle, agreeing to at least some part of the request.
Format your message carefully. How you say something is as important as what you are saying. Even the best message can fall on deaf ears if you don’t format your message in a manner that is both understandable and unlikely to offend. Particularly when communicating through a written medium, review your message several times before clicking send or printing out the penned memo. Ask yourself first if the message is understandable to all who will receive it. If it isn’t, it won’t be optimally effective. Finish by considering whether there is anything that could be offensive -- such as the inadvertent placing of blame -- as offensive messages will do more harm than good.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.
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