Mastering the Art of Effective Workplace Communication

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.”

As we all know, there’s a vast difference between being able to speak and hear and being a good communicator. Yet, become a more effective communicator, and you’ll see improvements in every area of your life, including business.

So what are the keys to mastering the art of effective workplace communication?

Understanding Workplace Communication

The question, “What is workplace communication?” may sound obvious, but the answer is more subtle than it first appears.

As Shaw said, a lot of the time, we kid ourselves into thinking that communication has happened. Even worse, we’ve communicated things we don’t even realise.

Methods of workplace communication

Obvious types of verbal communication in the workplace include conversations, emails, phone calls, and meetings. However, developing the art of workplace communication involves knowing what medium to use and–crucially–when to use it.

Timing is a vital and often underestimated element of effective communication. As we’ll see, mastering the art of timing can make you a valuable asset to any team.

The importance of non-verbal communication

Have you ever heard that 93% of communication is non-verbal? It turns out that’s a myth, and here’s why.

That stat came from a 1972 study that wasn’t exactly grounded in real life. In fact, it was based on hearing words and looking at photographs of people’s faces. Hands up, who’s had an interaction like that in the workplace? No, didn’t think so.

However, this doesn’t mean that non-verbal cues, like body movement, facial expression, and gestures, don’t matter. They convey a lot about intention, which is a big part of communication. Although some of these cues are involuntary, we can harness them to communicate more clearly.

How to Improve Workplace Communication

If you want your coworkers to catch your drift, here are a few key skills to master:

Really listen

Active listeners are focused on what the other person is saying, not thinking about what they’re going to say next. This doesn’t come naturally to most of us and takes practice.

In your next conversation, try this:

  • Face your colleague and give appropriate (not creepy) eye contact
  • Take in non-verbal cues, like gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice
  • Resist the urge to interrupt
  • Repeat back what the person said to check you understand

There may be some awkward silences at first as you get used to processing what they have said before formulating your response. But don’t let that put you off! Active listeners gain build trust and find people listen more carefully when they do speak.

Identify and overcome workplace barriers to communication

The workplace brings together people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. So it’s not a surprise that sometimes we don’t fully grasp what others are saying.

  • Language barriers: Over 300 languages are spoken in the UK. Taking this into account in the workplace may mean sticking to more literal terms rather than using the colloquialisms and jargon English is famous for.
  • Cultural barriers: Ways of communicating are not universal, and it's important to understand others rather than imposing our ways of communicating on them. Sensitivity training could expose us to new ways of thinking about communicating.
  • Physical barriers: Do team members have the equipment they need to communicate effectively? Are there quiet spaces where they can go for confidential meetings or to collaborate without distractions?
  • Psychological barriers: Clashing communication styles, conflict, and differing viewpoints can cause some people to shut down at work. Training could help to build trust and foster good communication skills that help all to feel included and excel.

The art of timing

Have you ever been in a meeting where the boss has encouraged everyone to “open up, get it all off your chest”? While this sounds great, they rarely go according to plan. That’s because when you speak is often just as important, or more important, than what you say.

Choosing your moments is not about being dishonest. It’s about recognising that there are times when what you have to say will be better received than others. This involves tuning in to both verbal and nonverbal cues.

For example, is what you have to say potentially embarrassing for someone in the group? Could raising this privately with them later be better than blurting it out in front of everyone? Taking others’ feelings into account can do much to build trust and rapport at work.

At other times, you may recognise that you’re too stressed or angry to communicate effectively. Giving yourself time to cool down, gather your thoughts, and think about the impact of what you want to say could help you avoid saying something you later regret.

Facilitating good communication

Sometimes the layout of our offices does not support effective communication. Maybe people who frequently collaborate sit far apart, or there are filing cabinets or other barriers in the way. Perhaps you need to have private HR conversations, but there’s nowhere to go.

If you notice people huddling in corridors or outside, that’s a sure sign your office design is letting them down. Redesigning your office layout and giving people spaces for confidential communication may make communication much easier.

Tools for Effective Workplace Communication

Managers can do a lot to support good communication at work. They must model it themselves and give their workers the tools they need for effective workplace communication. This includes quiet spaces to work collaboratively away from the office hubbub.

Soundproof meeting booths from Soundbox Store are the answer. They come in two sizes, 3-4 person and 4-6 person, and provide:

  • Complete privacy - Industry-leading soundproofing blocks out all auditory distractions
  • Total comfort - Low-noise, double turbo fan keeps the room fresh
  • Bluetooth audio - Bring Zoom meetings to life with natural audio interactions

These are just a few of the outstanding features that make acoustic meeting booths essential for effective workplace communication. Ready to learn more? Contact us today or visit our showrooms to see the difference for yourself.