We’re trained communication experts, but we still have to remind ourselves to use our speech skills sometimes.
Below are a few things that I have learned. And by learned, I mean that I have done all of these things wrong at some point. Here you go…Drama is great in the movies. At the office? Not so much. Here are 6 tips for communication.Click To Tweet
1. Start with your attitude.
Your true feelings will come out eventually, so why not start by working on yourself? How are you doing?
When we don’t care take of ourselves, everything gets on our nerves. We give off a vibe that says, “I’m in a bad mood. Leave me alone.” Dealing with moody people is like walking through a field of landmines. Communication is not safe when you’re unable to predict how the other person might react.
When you’re burned out, your perception of the world gets distorted. You begin reacting instead of responding. You project your own issues onto to the person your communicating with.
Self-care is so important. As adults, we all need to learn what our needs are and how to meet them. When we take care of ourselves, we become more approachable to everyone else.
2. Ask yourself- should this be an email or a conversation?
Email is a playground for misunderstandings. Sometimes you have no clue what the other person is really trying to say. It’s no wonder- tone of voice and body language play a huge role in comprehension.
Think of an email like an office memo. It’s appropriate to use email to remind people of events and dates, or to update them on policies. Asking questions is fine as long as the answer doesn’t require a dialogue.
If you email someone and get a response that doesn’t answer your question, pick up the phone. Otherwise, you could end up in an email ping pong nightmare (an email conversation that goes back and forth over and over without ever solving the problem). You’ve don’t have time for that.
If the situation is even the least bit ticklish, make a phone call instead. Who wants to risk having a permanent record of their argument with someone? Not you.
Sometimes I have no choice but to send an email, even though I would rather have a conversation. When I have to convey important and complicated information in an email, I draft an email in the morning and several hours later I edit and send it.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Situations come and go, but you’re probably going to have to work with your colleagues for a long time. They can make your life easier or a whole lot harder. Choose your battles wisely when it comes to tangling with someone at work.
When someone does something that bothers you, don’t react right away. Calm down, and then ask yourself: Will this matter in 7 days? a month? a year? 5 years? If not, let it go and move on.
Note: If you’re ever the victim of a crime, that’s not small stuff.
4. Learn to listen.
People need to feel safe communicating with one another. Create a safe space for people by listening and validating their concerns.
If there’s a problem being discussed, make sure you understand the other person’s perspective. You don’t have to agree with them to do this. You can say something like, “What I’m hearing is that you’re concerned about John going to speech at 10:00, because he misses out on taking notes during the social studies lesson.”
Once you understand the problem, validate the other person. You could say, “I wouldn’t want John missing out on the notes, and I know that it’s impossible to repeat the lesson for him. I understand it’s hard to teach with kids coming out of class for things like speech.”
Doing this creates a common ground, something both of you agree on. Once you agree on something, the dynamic changes. You’re not on opposing sides anymore. The focus changes from being on each other, to the problem itself.
Hello rainbows and sunshine. If you get to this beautiful place in your problem solving, go ahead and suggest a solution. Try and offer a solution that’s win-win for everyone. That way, you’ll both will walk away feeling like you accomplished something.
5. Be organized and plan ahead.
I’ve interrupted teachers’ classes before to get forms filled out, rather than sticking them in their mailboxes, because I was short on time. Sometimes it’s inevitable and sometimes it’s due to lack of planning on my part.
One of the best things I ever did was organize my forms and checklists into folders in my filing cabinet. On all of the ones I give to teachers, I write on the original form, “Please complete and return to Ms. Dugan (speech) by ________” and then I make 10-20 copies and stick them in a folder. When I need to give the form to a teacher, I take out a copy from the folder, write the date I need the form returned to me, and stick it in the teacher’s mailbox. This reduces the amount of prep time I need for each individual form.
6. Be kind.
No one ever truly knows what it’s like to be someone else. Often people are experiencing struggles in their lives that we don’t know about or understand.
Life is already hard enough, why make it any harder? A good goal would be for people to leave their interaction with you feeling better than when they began it.
We also never know when we might lose the people we care about. Let people know how much they mean to you.
I recently made my own little “positive vibes” messages for my colleagues and printed them onto sticky notes. I put them on my co-workers’ computers and desks. I uploaded my this as a printable document to my online store and you can download it for free. If you’ve never printed anything on sticky notes before, it’s a little scary at first but once you learn how to orient the paper, it’s easy. You can download it for free by clicking the picture below.