4 Tips for Improving Communication in the Workplace
These days the only thing more numerous than coffee flavors is communication methods. Take your pick: phone, video conference, audio conference, real-time chat, email, voicemail, social media, collaborative team rooms, or face-to-face meetings. These multiple options make it possible to have extraordinary communication in the workplace. But often, communication falls short and teams need help to improve their communication skills. Here are four tips to improve communication in the workplace.
Say a Little
We live in the age of "information overload." Author Alvin Toffler popularized this term in 1970 with the release of his bestselling book FutureShock. In recent years others have creatively termed it "infoxication" and"infobesity." Whatever you choose to call it, providing too much information can make it difficult for a team to understand an issue. Sifting through mounds of information can slow down and perhaps paralyze decision-making. So say a little. Be concise and clear. Provide only information that is relevant to the issue at hand.
Say a Lot
In his book Make a Difference, Dr. Larry Little identifies one of four personality types as "Competent Camel." He explains that "Competent Camels" are detail people—they desire and require adequate details to successfully complete a task. In contrast, a second of the four personality types is "Leading Lion." Dr. Little describes "Leading Lions" as big picture people who don't want to be bothered with details. On your team you likely have representatives from both personality types. So which is it—say a little or say a lot? It's both. Yes, be concise and clear, but also provide the important details to allow for an accurate and complete picture of an issue. (In case you are curious, the other two personality types are "Much-Loved Monkey" and "Tranquil Turtle." Take our personality test to find out which one describes you.)
Say it Often
Research has shown that repetition is necessary for good communication. Some companies adopt the "seven times in seven ways" policy which suggests you communicate your message seven separate times using seven different methods. As a leader you may be getting tired of sharing a particular message, but the message may just be starting to sink in with your team. Seven is not a magical number. Find the sweet spot that works for your team.
Say it All
Years ago while attending a leadership conference, I heard a speaker say something that I have never forgotten. "Leaders often say ninety percent of what needs to be said. They stop there because the final ten percent may be hard to say or may be hard for their teams to hear. As leaders we must say the final ten percent!" Effective leadership can say it all if they think it through in advance and intentionally choose their words. Teams can grow to appreciate the honesty and the directness, as well as the clarity they gain from hearing the final ten percent.
You can find more tools and resources that can guide you in knowing when to say a little, say a lot, say it often, say it all in our online leadership training.