This month’s guest post comes from freelance communicator, Genevieve Etienne-Farrell, and looks at workplace communication from an individual’s perspective.
We often overlook communication in the workplace once we have covered the basics such as who to contact, why we need to contact them, and how we can contact them. Whilst this is a somewhat basic requirement for a successful team, it isn’t uncommon for workplace communication to become ineffective.
Methods of communication are not something that we tend to revisit often enough in our modern-day work practices. In this article, I will explore a few reasons why we should always focus on workplace communication, and how we can maintain its effectiveness in our working lives.
It can be somewhat tricky to adapt to the communication preferences of everyone in a team, and an increase in the tools that we use to communicate, as well as a turnover of staff, can mean that communication gets forgotten. As with most aspects of life, things change and in turn our ways of communicating in the workplace should be adapted to reflect the changes in staff, projects, and preferences.
Nowadays we are inundated with methods of communication at work, which can sometimes mean that work doesn’t stay in the workplace and becomes a part of our lives 24/7. Previously we would only have to check our work emails to stay updated on any new information at work, but we are now also having to check the work WhatsApp group, the shared drive, text messages and the staff intranet. With this, it can be very difficult to switch off from work and strike that all important work/life balance. Equally, it can also be a struggle knowing where to start.
Taking the above into consideration, it has become increasingly important for us to streamline the way that we communicate to make our messages as clear and concise as possible. Of course, our ways of communicating will change dependent on the circumstance, but it is now more important than ever to establish when particular forms of communication are required.
Even if we feel that as individuals we are clear and concise in our messaging to others, we must remember that we are all very different individuals with different preferences and may need to be explicit in terms of how we want others to communicate with us. Below are my top three suggestions for workplace communication:
1. The obvious and most easy solution here is to discuss communication preferences with your colleagues directly. For most, this can usually be done during an impromptu catch-up or a scheduled meeting. In most cases, nothing beats a quick face-to-face conversation where you can often get your point across very clearly by simply stating what works best for you, whilst ensuring that you do so in the most amicable manner.
2. In instances where a quick face-to-face conversation is not possible, particularly when individuals work remotely, the next best thing is a phone conversation. Sometimes, what begins as a two-minute email can turn into paragraphs explaining your thought process and how you came to that conclusion. Yet in a phone call, you can state your point, explain it, and evidence it clearly in a considerably shorter amount of time.
Although you can’t see the facial expressions of your colleague through the phone, there is still a personal touch to a phone call which often enables us to come to an agreeable decision more quickly than via email. Even if your colleague does talk for longer than you would hope, you can almost always be sure that an hour on the phone will be quicker than an hour or more of emails.
3. However, outlining your communication preferences via email can be a great idea because you can state your ideas coherently, you can carefully plan what you are saying to ensure that it is clear, and you have a written record of your request. Although quite different to a face-to-face conversation or phone call, emails continue to be one of our most preferred methods for getting our point across. From seeking information to sending a complaint, emails can also be translated from one language to another at the click of a button and remain a convenient way to communicate globally.
So, whilst communication in the workplace is quite an easy concept at first glance, let us all remember that it is also a constantly changing aspect of our work lives that we should adapt as and when necessary to ensure that it remains clear, concise and effective for all.
Genevieve Etienne-Farrell is a freelance journalist, digital marketing advisor and an editor of a website specialising in music, lifestyle and culture. Whilst currently based in London, she takes every opportunity to travel the world and write about things that she’s passionate about.
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