Good communication skills are essential in the workplace. Whether you need to write an email to a co-worker or a memo to the entire office, it is important to communicate clearly and effectively. By doing so, you will lessen the chance of misunderstandings and subsequent headaches.
To be a strong and efficient communicator, you must be able to both send and receive messages. Here are a number of tips to help strengthen your communication skills.
Plan your message. Think before you write or speak. The first and most effective way to avoid communication confusion is to consider who your audience is and what he or she would like to know. Ask yourself a few simple questions before you begin communicating with another person:
- What is the purpose of my communication? Why am I sending this message?
- Who is going to be on the receiving end of this exchange?
- What is the best way to send this message (via telephone, email, letter, or in person)?
After asking these questions, take a moment to think about what you would like to write or say in the most succinct way. Try to avoid conveying information that isn’t necessary. A long email or telephone conversation does not necessarily result in better comprehension of the message you are trying to send.
Consider how the recipient of your message will perceive it. If you are sending a message to your boss’s boss, you would not use slang or informal remarks in an email to him or her. This could be perceived as disrespectful or unprofessional—therefore, using the right tone when crafting your message is crucial.
In terms of written communication, always take the time to review your work. Grammar, spelling and your use of jargon or slang are important factors to consider when composing a letter or email. By misusing an abbreviation or overlooking an incomplete sentence, you may cause more confusion.
Be sure to think about the many forms of sending messages. If the topic of your message is time sensitive or requires a great deal of detail, perhaps it is better to use the telephone. If the topic you would like to discuss may cause the recipient to become emotional in any way, perhaps explaining it to him or her in person might be the best route. On the other hand, any message that is short and simple could be sent via email.
When you are the recipient of a message, be sure to listen carefully or reread a letter or email at least twice. Many misunderstandings come from haste, so in order to be an expert communicator you must also be an effective listener and precise reader.
Miscommunication can happen, however, it doesn’t have to happen all the time. Try some of these tips and see if your communication skills improve!