February 2022 Content
6 Ways to Improve Your Communication at Work
By Team Six Words, originally published in sixwordscommunication.com.
No matter where you work, poor communication is a common workplace problem. Whether it’s lack of information, closeness-communication bias, or jargon-full-who-can-understand-this-stuff updates, bad communication stalks even the most transparent, open organizations.
The good news is, you can take steps to ensure you don’t contribute to poor communication. These six tips will help you improve the way you communicate at work (and in many other aspects of your life).
Consider Context and Key Messages
Your coworkers, boss or external contacts may not have the same context or insights as you do on the latest project or situation. Before you communicate, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions. Then, build them into your written or verbal communications:
- Do I need to recap anything to ensure we’re all on the same page? When in doubt, include a recap. Those who already know can skip over it, those who don’t will appreciate the refresh.
- What are the critical updates or messages I need to get across? How can I make these stand out?
- Where do we go from here? What are the next steps I need to include?
- What do I need people to do with this information? Is it “FYI” only? Or do they need to take action?
Make the Most of Formatting
The longer the update, the more likely important details will be lost.
Use formatting in written communication (such as bullet points or bolding certain words) to highlight vital information. We like to bold important dates, calls to action or key decisions, so it’s nearly impossible to miss them.
When communicating verbally, try to be clear, concise and focused. Hone in on the most important details and leave the distracting filler content out.
Watch Your Tone and Body Language
The way you communicate can drastically affect your message. Always consider your tone and body language – a serious conversation requires a different approach than a celebratory update. Paying attention to these factors can improve your interactions with others, and make you a more graceful communicator overall.
We’re big believers in doing more listening than talking. Listening not only helps build stronger relationships, but it also creates room for conversation and gathering feedback and information that may be critical to your success. In any form of communication, always make space for listening.
Think Before Your Communicate
Whether it’s an email, a personal interaction, or a phone call, what you say matters. Don’t underestimate the power of the pause. Your first response may not be your best. Before replying in haste to your latest email or request, ask yourself – does my response add value? Are you communicating out of emotion, or out of necessity?
If there are gaps in what you are saying, people will fill them with their own assumptions. Make sure you review and look for ambiguity or gaps in your communication.
Being a good communicator takes effort. Try the tips above and let us know how it goes!
Corinne Impey is a versatile, action-oriented senior communications professional and entrepreneur. She provides strategic advice and communications coaching to leaders and teams across Canada. Together with her team at Six Words Communication, she develops communication and change management plans, campaigns and materials that build brands, engage stakeholders and drive results. Corinne holds a Masters of Professional Communication degree from Ryerson University and is the recipient of a Gold Quill Excellence Award from the International Association of Business Communicators for her work in change communication.
Learn more with Corinne at her upcoming session on Level Up: Writing for Clarity and Impact
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PD Nexus Days are information-packed days designed to bring new knowledge on current and relevant topics to members in multiple, bite-size sessions throughout the day. Save the date now – details and registration will be available in March.
PD Nexus: Business & Leadership Insights
July 7th, 2022
Our semi-annual Business Insights Day will provide three streams of content on current business, leadership and work-life integration topics that will introduce new ideas, expand your knowledge and sharpen your skills as a business leader. Come explore new ways to be your best self, both at work and beyond.
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July 18th & 19th, 2022
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Effective communication skills, whether verbal or in written form, are critical to getting your message across and arriving at your desired results.
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Review the Basics
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From Conflict to Collaboration…
“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Victor Frankl
This is one of Pam Penner’s favourite quotes.
Meet Pam, one of your Professional Development instructors with over 20 years of extensive experience working in the field of conflict resolution as a mediator, facilitator, coach and trainer. In private practice since 1998, and as a member of the instructional team at the Justice Institute of B.C., she specializes in helping individuals develop their communication and conflict resolution skills. We asked Pam to tell us more about her two upcoming seminars and why they are relevant to our members.
Why is it important to learn about how to prepare for and conduct difficult conversations effectively, or communicate under pressure well, now more than ever?
In the years that I have been teaching these seminars I have heard how much pressure CPAs experience in the workplace – increasing workloads, expectations by management to provide data on the spot, the need to address problematic behaviours and manage the emotions of others. These skills learned in these seminars will help CPAs manage the pressure of these high demands and expectations placed on them.
The premise of both of these seminars is that unless we learn to communicate under pressure and how to conduct difficult conversations, a problem will only get worse, not better. It is critical to our sense of well-being and credibility to learn methods to manage these dynamics which will reduce stress in the long term.
In the seminar Communicating Under Pressure, we explore what happens to our ability to think as the stress of pressure increases, and how to manage that pressure and to allow us to think on our feet. We also explore how to say no in a way that is constructive and that still meets both our needs and those of the other person.
Most of us fear confrontation and the potential impact it can have on relationships, and so we avoid it. Unfortunately, avoiding the problem only increases it. Problems rarely go away on their own. In the seminar How to Conduct Difficult Conversations, we explore communication strategies to address problematic behaviours in a clear, constructive manner that reduces the stress we experience and helps to change the behaviour of others.
What’s one of the key ways these seminars will help CPAs in their career?
Strong communication skills are essential to career advancement. Both of these seminars focus on communication skills that are essential to career advancement, effective supervision of staff and for meeting organizational needs of productivity, effectiveness, and employee morale.
Is there a current challenge that your seminars will help address?
Both seminars address the challenge of a lack of assertiveness.
Plato said, “we get the behaviour we tolerate” and, in fact, we condone it if we don’t speak up about it. In the seminar on conducting difficult conversations, we explore communication tools for addressing problematic behaviours.
In the seminar on communicating under pressure, we explore our current communication style and how to shift to a more assertive style, including how to say no in a way that is respectful to both ourselves and the other person.
What is a key opportunity your seminars offer?
When we communicate in an aggressive or passive way we cause damage, both to ourselves and others. These seminars offer an opportunity to learn how to develop your assertive communication skills without damaging relationships.
Tell us about one takeaway that you are really excited to share with your audience.
When we avoid saying no or having a difficult conversation, nothing is resolved and resentment builds. This is an opportunity to learn some skills that will support having difficult conversations that will ultimately improve relationships and reduce pressure.
You will learn to say no in a way that acknowledges your own needs and also works to meet the needs of others.
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