By Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, a drag-and-drop form builder for WordPress that empowers freelancers to create form-based solutions.
To run a successful business, everyone on the team needs to be on the same page. Otherwise, it's easy to come to misunderstandings and to misinterpret situations. Working efficiently with others requires you to practice open communication to complete your tasks and stay productive.
One study showed that companies that communicate effectively experience a 47 percent higher conversion rate than those that don't. It leads to a better customer experience, which increases your return on investment and boosts sales.
On top of that, communicating openly builds strong relationships across departments. The easier it is to get along with colleagues, the more smoothly everyone can complete their tasks and projects. It makes room for a healthy work environment that encourages different viewpoints and feedback.
If you want to improve your workplace communication, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Analyze your current strategy.
If you need better workplace communication, then something about your current strategy isn't working. The only way to move forward and create an open work environment is to assess your current situation and fill the cracks.
No strategy is perfect, but when you take the time to see where you need to make changes, you'll reap the benefits. If your team struggles with miscommunication often, then something isn't working. Somewhere down the line, misunderstandings can interrupt your business processes and hinder productivity.
The easiest way to understand the current communication of your team is to ask questions. You'll likely notice recurring patterns or thought processes that lead to the disconnect. This will help you see where communication is failing and how to improve it.
Hold one-on-one meetings.
Some people don't mind being spoken to in front of others during meetings, but others find this an invasion of privacy. They don't want their colleagues knowing their business or simply don't feel comfortable discussing issues in a public setting.
To create a comfortable space for your employees, whether it's remote or in person, give them the option of a one-on-one meeting. It may be easier for them to speak candidly and communicate more openly when they don't feel pressured by an audience. You can get more honest feedback when they know no one else is listening.
One-on-one meetings are also great to get to know new employees or those you haven't caught up with in a while. Sometimes, taking the pressure off and calling it a chat instead of a meeting also helps people loosen up and be themselves.
Listen to understand.
Unfortunately, many people listen to respond rather than to understand where the other person is coming from. With this mindset, you won't be able to comprehend their perspective and take it fully into consideration.
Before meeting with someone or having a conversation, make sure you're in the right headspace. The last thing you want is to act aloof or make them feel like you don't care about what they have to say.
It's also vital to go into the conversation with an open mind that's ready to handle what's next. Before listening to what someone has to say, avoid jumping to conclusions. The easiest way to misinterpret something is by making assumptions about it first, so make sure you start with a clean slate. Listen to everything they have to say before telling them what you think.
Invite constructive criticism.
To improve in any area in life, you need to be open to receiving feedback. You can't get better at anything if you don't listen to helpful advice meant to guide you in the right direction. That's why it's important to not only give constructive criticism, but receive it as well.
Constructive criticism is meant to enhance your skill set and work well with other people to achieve the best results. Imagine someone yelling at you to do something the right way instead of gently explaining or showing how it's done. It can prove challenging to focus and excel when someone's already scolded you for your effort.
The same principle applies to giving constructive feedback. You may not always like what your colleagues and managers have to say, but their advice can help you become a better worker. When someone advises you, take what they say into consideration, and analyze how you can improve in that area.
Back to you.
Improving workplace communication doesn't have to be difficult. With these simple tips, it should be easier to stop misunderstandings in their tracks and get more done. If everyone works as a team to better understand each other, then you're sure to see a spike in productivity, efficiency and, of course, communication.