Monthly Archives: September 2016

Tips for More Effective Office Communication

Technically speaking, communication is the process of exchange of information between two or more communicating entities. It includes the sharing of views or opinions, conveying of information, and listening with the intent of understanding each other. At the root of communication is the human need of expression and good communication results in healthy exchange of ideas or information. Communicating is a daily activity; be it at home, with friends, socially, or in office; we are in communication with someone or the other, throughout the day.
The etiquette for communicating with friends is different from that followed in office. The communication with seniors, colleagues, or juniors in office, as well as that with business clients is of the formal type, whereas we can be informal when interacting socially. The setting and the people we are interacting with, are determinants of the way we communicate. This Buzzle article tells you what effective office communication means, and its importance in business.

Office communication includes that between employees, the employer-employee communication, that in management meetings and business talks, and that with the company’s clients. The interactions between co-workers influence the work environment and organizational culture. The communication with clients has a direct effect on the company’s business.

Office communication can be classified as verbal and non-verbal. The former includes telephonic talks and direct conversations between two or more people. The non-verbal type includes written communication; mostly done via emails. Be it of any type and using any medium, the bottom line is to make it effective. The clarity of thought and expression of the speaker, and the listening and grasping abilities of the receiver, contribute to making a communication effective. Here we look at two common ways of verbal and written office communication; telephone and email.

Communicating over the Telephone (Verbal)

While conversing on phone, remember to start the conversation by introducing yourself. Tell the receiver your name and the purpose of your call. Don’t forget that you are taking his time.
Keep your conversation brief and precise. Make your point without wasting time, which is to say come to the main topic quickly.
A conversation over the phone does not involve face-to-face communication because of which body language (hand gestures or facial expressions) do not support it. The exception to this is a video call where the people in conversation can see each other.
Respect the age and position of the person you are talking to. Even if you are not seeing each other, your tone and volume should reflect your respect.
And even when talking to someone younger or lower in position, you should not be rude.
Do not end a call abruptly. Make your point, give the person on the other side a chance to respond, and end the conversation with a suitable farewell. Thank him for giving you his time.
If the person you want to communicate with, isn’t reachable, leave him a message. Here again, be clear and crisp. If the point to be conveyed is small, include it in the message itself. But it is always better to request him to call you back. To make it easy for him to reply, leave your contact number in the message.
If you are on the receiver’s side, be prompt in replying to unattended calls. It could be something important or urgent. So ensure that all the unanswered calls are responded to.

Electronic Communication (Written)

In case of a phone call, there is immediate feedback and it’s almost like communicating face to face. Many find it easier to communicate verbally than in writing. Email communication lacks these attributes. Of course, it has the advantages of written communication and people sitting in different parts of the world (different time zones) can communicate easily through emails. Also, accent problems that may be faced in a telephonic communication are eliminated with emails.
Start the email with the right salutation. Considering the position and age of the receiver, refer to him or her as Sir/Madam. Ensure that you are spelling their name right.
Phone calls may or may not be recorded, but email communication is in the written form. Words may be misinterpreted, and there is no chance to explain what was perhaps misunderstood. For example, in a phone call, the person on the other side can ask you to explain your points in simpler words or quickly tell you if he is not getting your point. This does not happen in case of emails. There is a time lag, and it is when the other party replies to your email, that you know if he has understood your point or not.
For written communication to be clear, be precise and make a thoughtful use of words. If the email is long, give it a flow by distributing different ideas across paragraphs or in separate points.
Remember to run a spell-check and proofread your writing. Do not make grammatical mistakes. Errors in writing can spoil your impression.
Maintain a formal tone throughout the email. Be courteous in your writing.
End your email in the right way. Thank the receiver for reading it, and if you expect him to respond immediately or before a certain date, mention that in a polite way.
When replying to emails, the same rules should be followed. If the email needs you to respond within a certain time period, you should remember to reply in time.
The ‘forward’, ‘cc’, and ‘bcc’ options should be used carefully. If you need to keep someone in the loop about the communication, it is recommended that you send him/her a copy of your email.
This may sound basic, but it is important that the email is sent to the right people. The email address should be checked twice before sending the email.

Communication Within Office

Understand and accept the fact that people around you come from different educational and/or family backgrounds, and belong to different age groups. You might have to adopt different ways of communicating with each of them.
Your way and tone of communication impacts your relations with the co-workers. A healthy communication contributes to a positive office environment.
In assigning work and getting it done, you may have to tackle different people in different ways. Also, you will need to be clear about what work needs to be done by them and in how much time.
The right use of words is essential. Strictly, no personal comments should be made. During meetings too, discussions should be related to work, and not people.
If you are given the responsibility of conveying a management decision to the employees or your team members, you should be precise and leave no scope for doubt in their minds. You should be clear in the communication and also be ready to solve their queries.

Communication Outside Office

This mainly includes the communication with business clients, that during business negotiations or in contracts, and that with vendors. In all these, a third party is involved and you represent your organization.
Any communication involving a party outside office has to be handled carefully, as it can affect the impression of your organization or the business as a whole.
You may need to be extra-polite when dealing with clients, listen to their concerns, and show the preparedness to address them. You should be ready to listen to their complaints about your organization and keep your calm while doing so.
It should be remembered that you are communicating on behalf of your organization and that you should reflect the ethics and culture of your business.
Be it verbal or written, use of the right words and the right tone, coupled with clarity of expression, go on to make any communication effective.

Upward Communication

In order for a process to work most efficiently, there should be proper communication within related entities of any system such as at the workplace. Basically, there are two types of concepts in the world of corporate communications namely, upward communication and downward communication. Owing to the significance of communication, the management is conducting specific training sessions on communication skills and strategies and encouraging employees to attend. If the management needs to determine the expectations of employees, they need to consider proper channels for communication up the hierarchy.

What is Upward Communication?

In a company, only passing orders from managers to subordinates is not important. There should also be a flow of information from employees to the top-level managers. Upward communication is termed as the flow of any kind of information from lower levels in the hierarchy to the upper ones in a company. So, the channels of information would typically be: Executive > Team Leader > Project Manager > Program Manager > Practice Director > Director > Board of Directors. A proper flow of information from ordinary employees to the higher management aids in clear communication, which is better for carrying out any task. In other words, healthy communication aids in bridging the communication gap between employees, managers, and the top management.

Upward Communication Barriers

Time and availability can be a major barrier in this type of communication. An employee may presume that his line manager or the top management won’t have time to address to his piece of information or be concerned due to a busy schedule. Another barrier to clear is modification of the actual information due to some reasons. Many a time it happens that the information from an employee is not clearly understood by his superior, who in turn misinterprets it to the management. This might happen due to a lack of attention, time, or using inappropriate means of communication.

Not able to provide feedback is also a barrier to effective communication up the hierarchy. In many cases, employees are not given a chance to provide feedback, which has a negative impact on productivity. Education and level of expertise might in some situations turn out to be a barrier. The sender of the messages might have a different educational background and lower expertise than the receiving entities, which might make receiving or understanding the information difficult.

Cultural differences also may be a reason for unclear communication with higher management. Employees may not communicate with their superiors and the management because of a difference in values, language and background, which is mostly found in cross-cultural teams in multinational companies.

Overcoming Upward Communication Barriers

To eliminate the barriers of good upward communication in the workplace, there are some considerations the management can focus on. The first one is that the management should make sure to ask feedback from employees present in the chain of communication. This will make employees feel that their feedback is being given importance to. This will eventually lead to better employee participation in project completion.

The management should increase the channels of communication for employees. Employees should be encouraged to participate in meetings with top officials for clarification. For employees to be open regarding their views, the manager should have a good relation with them. He should communicate with them on a regular basis which will create a sense of togetherness and openness. Managers should be trained to handle people from different cultural backgrounds. This will rule out the problems arising due to employees being from different cultures.

Corporate parties and team building activities are good methods of encouraging employee participation. Suggestion boxes and graffiti walls are another creative techniques of creating a clear line of upward communication. While addressing to the concerns of employees, managers need to ‘listen’ instead of ‘hear’. This will rule out the chances of the information being altered in any way.

There are many advantages of upward communication such as boosting employee morale to improve productivity, being aware of what employees expect, and improving decision-making processes. It is a proven fact that proper communication at all levels has reduced workplace conflicts and increased employee productivity considerably.

How to Have Good Communication Skills at Work

Effective communication is not only important in your personal life, but in your professional life as well. If you are currently employed, it’s very obvious that you spend a major part of your day in the office. To make sure you are doing your job properly at your workplace you have to communicate effectively to put your views and thoughts forward. Having effective communication skills is very important as it is the key to where you want to reach in your life. Communication has the power to build or destroy relationships; your words will have an impact wherever you go. This goes without saying that people who are good with talking always are the first ones to get noticed everywhere. This article on having good communication skills at work is especially for people who want to get out of their shell of shyness and want to speak effectively in front of an audience.

Improving Communication Skills at Work

Having effective communication skills at work is very important to establish a healthy relationship with your co-workers, subordinates and superiors. People who know how to talk know how to work things in their favor most of the time, this doesn’t mean that being shy is a crime. People can be shy for various reasons, some have a withdrawn personality, some are just insecure, most of us think that we are not good at socializing and some just find it very hard to express their feelings. The sad part is that being shy means being left; if you don’t open up, don’t talk, don’t share your ideas and be antisocial your communication skills will suffer. You’ll always be the last guy/girl at everything. If you don’t want end up like that let’s know how to have good communication skills at work.

Clarity
If you really want to have good workplace communication skills, you need to have clarity. Be very clear about what you want to convey with your words or sentences. Using ambiguous words and statements can create a lot of confusion and mess up the situation. While having a conversation, it is very important to know what are you saying and how your talk is affecting the opposite person. The conversations that you have with your co-workers and your clients has to be very different.

Say What You Want to Say
Don’t beat around the bush while you’re conversing with someone. This is a professional environment and people have no time for such casual attitude, be direct with what you want to say. Your clients, your superiors and the people working with you will be very appreciative if you could be direct and concise. If you say too much or add some points which are not necessary there’s a chance that the listener will miss out on the most important points.

Maintain Good Eye Contact
Many people are scared to look in the eye while conversing, this is actually wrong and such kiddish behavior should be avoided. While conversing with anyone, it is very necessary that you have good eye contact with your audience, whether it’s a group or one person. You don’t have to scare them with your eyes, use them to convey your opinion and to show how serious you are about the topic.

Avoid Being Personal
As I’ve mentioned before its good to be direct and to the point, although you should be careful of not being rude and impersonal. Remember that you’re talking to breathing people and don’t forget that they have feelings. While conversing with anyone in a professional environment, it’s good to be passionate about the job and let the opposite person understand how important this is for you.

Try to Listen
It’s really hard for most of us but a good conversationalist also knows how to listen and understand what others have to say. Communication is never a one way street, even when you speak you need feedback to see how well has the opposite personality has understood your viewpoint. Listen and don’t just nod your head; understand and get involved in the conversation.

I hope the above given points will help you understand how to have good communication skills at work. Its’ good to speak when you want to as the ultimate beneficiary is you in the end, in this race of life it’s not good to be shy always. Speak up well so that people know you exist.

Communication in the Workplace

With the number of high profile corporations that function today, and the increased levels of competitiveness in the market, it is important to find ways to keep employees motivated and to keep their morale up at the workplace. To enable coordination and cooperation between various employees, communication takes added importance. Passing messages amongst the people in the office, maintaining effective chains of command, and also keeping track of what’s happening in the lives of fellow employees, are some of its most obvious advantages.

The forms of communication today have transformed from what it used to be in earlier times, due to the advent of plenty of electronic mediums. Despite all these changes though, its significance still remains the same as it ever was.

Importance of Workplace Communication

So, why exactly is it important at the workplace? The answer to this is known to almost everyone, but many people can’t find the right words to express it. It becomes clearer when you understand that every workplace must rely on teamwork and cooperation in order to carry out their work properly. The employees must also stay motivated. Disgruntled employees will never work efficiently, I think almost everyone is aware of that. It is proper communication that encourages and upholds this spirit of teamwork and cooperation amongst the employees. If the employees are friends with each other, obviously they will work better with each other.

Formal Communication
This is the kind that stems from necessity, rather than choice. Instructions, orders, guidelines, feedback, and appraisals provided to employees by the employer comprise this . Reporting, feedback, complaints, and sanctioning of leave are the components of communication from the employee to the employer. These channels are necessary for the proper functioning of any office, and if they are not followed in the right manner, the office will be unable to get any work accomplished.

Informal Communication
This is the kind takes place between employees, or between the employee and the employer in an informal manner, and about unofficial things. This implies a sense of friendship between the various parties involved. Too much of an informal approach can be harmful to a workplace, but it is true that some informal relationships need to be formed as well. This makes the people comfortable with each other, and produces a sense of camaraderie between the many employees of the workplace. This type also has some drawbacks, as many people choose to gossip a lot and spread rumors about other people. This is known as the ‘grapevine’.

Few Tips

The skill to communicate effectively in the workplace needs mastery over a period of time. This is not something that can be learned overnight. It requires tact, diplomacy, and a little bit of humility as well. If you find yourself lacking any of these qualities, maybe you need to reassess your personality and stop assuming that everyone listens to you by choice. Here are some tips that may help you improve some formal and informal relationships with fellow employees and even your employer.
Be polite and civil with everybody. Don’t be rude or emotional.
Respect the time and space of other people.
Learn to listen, instead of constantly running your mouth.
Be open and flexible, and do not keep a closed mind.
Learn to say no, it will save you from a lot of trouble occasionally.
Don’t get involved in conflicts unnecessarily.
Don’t complain too much, focus on the good parts instead. If you hate your workplace too much, just quit instead of increasing the unpleasantness by complaining.
If you have to meet your superiors, be on time.
Get to know your fellow employees.
Try not to mix personal and professional relationships.
Learn to compromise, and build a network of sorts.
Interaction between men and women requires slightly more diplomacy and tact. The ideal scenario is not to mix your personal and professional commitments, but this is something that cannot be avoided sometimes. There have been many cases where women have also accused men of sexual harassment, when in fact the man was just trying to make conversation. So make sure you get your signals right, and don’t make lewd comments or get personal with the women at your workplace. Learn to treat them with respect and dignity.

Sooner or later, you will begin to see the importance of good communication. You will get to know more people, improve your network of contacts, have a more stable and pleasant experience at work, and also make many new friends along the way.