An individual’s ability to communicate ultimately impacts how well they are perceived professionally. Nothing is worse than receiving poorly worded emails that are confusing, condescending, or dancing around issues. This goes for any sort of communication between a company’s clients or employees.
I am immersed in a wide variety of jobs that require me to be transparent, reliable, and easy to work with. It all comes down to, you guessed it, good communication skills. With the workplace becoming a big mix of remote and in-person environments, it’s more important than ever to get those skills down.
Four Tips to Help You Perfect Your Communication Skills
1. Be Transparent
Being transparent and honest with yourself and whom you’re dealing with is incredibly crucial. You have to be realistic with your expectations for every party involved. Communicate your concerns honestly, rather than saying just what you think the other individual wants to hear. You can be respectful without being a people pleaser. Communicating expectations will help you avoid undesired outcomes and unwelcome surprises.
Workload aside, dealing with issues concerning how you’re treated or how an individual makes you feel is vital in communication. Constructive criticism is totally fine, but it’s not acceptable to be outright disrespected. When everyone is (hopefully) trying to do a good job, there’s no need to bash someone out of anger or dissatisfaction. Once you say what you say, it can’t be taken back — and the individual spoken to will have either a wonderful or nasty perception of you based on your statements. If you’re annoyed, take a deep breath, and think about the impact your words may have before you talk to the person causing you angst.
2. Read the Room and Know Your Audience
Who you’re communicating with should dictate how you carry yourself. As a guitar teacher, I deal with students of all ages. With younger kids, I try to keep things light and fun while also being very easy to follow when it comes to the concepts I teach. Some older students may have a more serious approach, but I still try to keep the experience fun while tweaking my methods to fit their personalities.
Such is the case for a client or employer you’re working with. Rarely is it a “one size fits all” situation. Get to know your clients, study their brand and values, and use that to help gauge how to best communicate with them.
Another good example of tailoring my demeanor to the audience is when I shoot weddings on the weekends. Each situation is a little different, but they often are high-stress situations that require me to be calm, cool, and collected (even when I’m not on the inside!). I try to be incredibly easy to work with and keep up a positive can-do attitude. That approach has served me well every time.
3. Pay Attention to Nonverbal Communication
Many people overlook how they’re communicating nonverbally through their body language, clothes, and gestures.
Imagine you’re meeting a new client or a new employer. Appearing confident, kind, and trustworthy can be made clearer through your actions. The little things add up. Maintain eye contact to instill trust, use facial expressions to project your interest in the conversation, give a firm handshake to convey self-confidence, and dress appropriately for the formality of the situation.
4. Adapt Your M.O. for the Remote Workplace
Communicating in a remote work situation requires a somewhat different approach than communicating in person. When working remotely, people mainly communicate via email, Slack, or other digital means. Be very careful how you’re wording your messages. Words can be misinterpreted, and grammar mistakes can make you look sloppy, hard to understand, and disorganized. Be concise and always double-check your work!
Also, think about common courtesies during digital meetings via Zoom or other platforms. Avoid being on your phone, eating, or appearing generally uninterested (even though you may be). Sit up straight and be engaged in the discussion. Your employers and clients will see it as a sign of respect and attentiveness.
Communication is a vast topic that I could go on and on about. I’ve touched on just a few of the key ingredients for conducting yourself in the most professional way possible. Why make work more stressful than it has to be? Make it a little easier on yourself and others by being a master communicator!