How to Use Effective Communication Skills to Improve Efficiency in the Workplace
I’ve never quite had a problem with communication, in general. As a child, my parents had to keep a close eye on me at restaurants to ensure I wasn’t sneaking off to join other tables and start conversations with people I didn’t know. Let’s just say strangers weren’t something that was ever concretely defined for me. That said, it’s taken some time for me to learn how to use effective communication skills in my adult professional life.
Time is precious, especially when we’re talking about time that is paid out by a salary (and if you’re lucky, includes benefits). Your colleagues and manager do not have time for unnecessary interruptions and so I’ve come up with a list of how to incorporate effective communication skills into your workday to ensure efficiency.
Have a To-Do List
Before including other people in your day-to-day tasks, make sure you know your own responsibilities first. Make a to-do list for yourself every day and cross off the items as you go. If, as you go along you find you’ll need feedback or a material from a coworker, add that discussion to your list.
Email and instant messaging is often used in the workplace these days and can be a great way to ease tension in chats (thank goodness for the smiley face). That said, while quickly asking a colleague if you two can meet to discuss an issue at a later time, be sure to follow-up on your request. The follow-up is one of the most important aspects of effective communications skills, and so once you have the go-ahead from your colleague about meeting, send them a formal calendar request to communicate that this meeting is important.
In grade school we were always given a list of items we needed to complete our activities. Without an item, a project could easily be slowed or interrupted. When you go into a meeting of any sort, be prepared with topics you would like to address. If you assume that your colleagues will need additional materials, do not be hesitant to provide them. They will be happier to be over prepared, rather than lacking.
Be Upfront Immediately
Issues can arise within the workplace, just as in any relationship. Perhaps you feel credit wasn’t given to you (and you’re up for a raise) or that you disagree with how an upcoming situation should be handled. Do not wait around for someone else to bring up the subject. If it concerns you, take responsibility upon speaking to the appropriate representative (be it your manager or HR) immediately. (Note: it is important to know that should an issue, professional or personal arise in the workplace, you understand the protocol on who to address about your concerns.) Remember, time is important, and the longer you wait, the more the issue could grow.
Having a to-do list, making scheduled meetings, following-up on discussions, and being upfront about concerns are four ways you can use effective communication skills to form a more efficient workplace environment. Good luck!