Are you struggling with workplace communication issues? Do you ever feel like your employees are speaking a different language? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s one of the most common problems in the workplace today.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution! There are ways around these challenges so that everyone feels heard and respected in the end. Here are some tips and ways to overcome workplace communication problems once and for all.
1. Consider Your Body Language
The communication breakdown between you and your employees can begin with body language. If you’re not reading the right cues, it might be difficult for them to know that they can speak freely without feeling chastised.
For instance, while most people give eye contact as a sign that someone is listening, it’s not always received that way if their eyes are darting back and forth.
Instead, try to focus your full attention on the person speaking. Lean in when they’re sharing their opinion, nod along with them to show you’re still listening even if you disagree with what’s being said, and make sure you give feedback in a timely manner. This will help convey that their input is valued and appreciated, encouraging more open dialogue.
2. Put Your Phone on the Other Side of the Office
When you’re having an important conversation with someone in your office, it’s easy to pick up your phone to check the time or send a quick text. While that might not seem like too big of a deal, it sends a message to the other person that their words and time aren’t valuable.
Therefore, try putting your phone on the other side of the room or outside your office space while you converse with an employee. As long as they know you’re available if they need anything, this will help them feel like they can take their time to calmly convey their thoughts instead of speaking up just because they feel rushed.
The same applies to other distractions, like your computer screen. If you’re taking time to glance at your phone or the documents on your desk, it sends the message that they aren’t important to you.
When they feel like their words are being ignored or that their contributions aren’t valued, they’ll most likely avoid future conversations with you – which will make communication even worse!
3. Ask For and Give Feedback
Even if you try to focus on body language and avoid distractions, there’s no guarantee that your employees will feel like they can freely share their thoughts without a little push. Especially when it comes to feedback, some people might not know how to approach you with concerns or ideas.
Instead of waiting for them to speak up, make sure you ask for their feedback and opinions. When they know you genuinely want to hear what they have to say, it’ll make them feel more comfortable discussing difficult topics.
Once everyone is on the same page about these open communication channels, make sure you listen without judgment and provide actionable feedback whenever possible. This way, they’ll feel comfortable bringing ideas and thoughts to your attention, knowing that they won’t be turned down or ignored.
4. Refrain From Interrupting the Speaker
It’s easy to want to share your point of view as soon as you think of it, but this can actually create more problems than solutions. When you interrupt an employee mid-sentence or as they’re sharing their opinion, it sends the message that what they have to say isn’t important and that you already know better.
Instead, make sure you let them finish telling their story or sharing their thoughts before chiming in. You might need to sit on your words a few times, but that’s better than having employees who are hesitant to speak up in future meetings. It’s also helpful to let them do most of the talking in the beginning and then share your thoughts once they’ve finished.
5. Consider Your Tone of Voice
Your tone of voice can play a big role in how employees understand what you’re saying. When you come across as defensive or angry, it can make them feel like they need to protect themselves instead of listening to you.
Therefore, rather than talking down to them or using a condescending tone, try speaking calmly, clearly, and directly – even if you’re speaking about a sensitive topic. If they feel that the conversation is being conducted with respect, it’ll be easier for them to have a productive dialogue in return.
Remember, it’s easy to get worked up and speak louder than usual. While that might seem like a natural response during an intense conversation, it makes the other person feel defensive and shuts down communication.
6. Be Clear and Concise
Even when you’re trying to communicate effectively, things get lost in translation, especially when explaining concepts or giving direction over email. This lack of clarity can lead to confusion and frustration for your employees, creating more problems down the road.
To avoid these misunderstandings, make sure you provide clear messages whenever possible.
This means that instead of saying, “Let’s meet tomorrow at 2 PM to discuss the next steps”, you should be specific about what you need to cover during your next meeting, what information they should look through, who’ll attend the meeting, and when it’ll end, for instance.
In most cases, simply making an effort to pay attention and communicate clearly will make a huge difference in workplace communication problems. Even if you disagree with an employee’s ideas, it’s essential to let them speak and convey their thoughts respectfully and engagingly.
As long as you’re open to their thoughts and opinions without interrupting or dismissing them, your employees will know that you value their contributions – even when they disagree with you, and that’s enough.