Everybody knows that communication is key in so many aspects of our lives, but in the business world it is critical. Barriers in communication can grow from a multitude of reasons, from simply having a bad day to petty office politics. The impact of poor communications can be significant, so making communication work for you is critical for businesses today.
Here are my four takeaways to ensure that communication is as friction-free as possible.
- Channels and tactics
You could be the smoothest talker and the best listener on the planet, but those skills are useless unless you are delivering and receiving messages on the right platform.
If speed is of the essence, of course email is quicker than snail mail but what if you need to communicate messages instantly to your team, could an instant messaging platform such as WhatsApp on the web, Slack communities or even Facebook’s Workplace chat be more appropriate?
Instant messengers also allow you to supplement text with richer media, such as voice clips and images, which can allow team members to get their point across without any misinterpretation or confusion.
In my eyes however, nothing beats getting the team together face-to-face at every opportunity. Being able to maintain eye contact and read body language is so valuable, with video calling and traditional voice calling coming in at a close second and third, which gives you the chance to interpret tone of voice.
- Understanding your audience (and having them understand you!)
If you are often confused during interdepartmental meetings, consider taking some time to chat to your colleagues and really get to know their roles and responsibilities.
With a small amount of background, you and your team will be able to understand the pressures and challenges that your wider colleagues face. Plus, it’ll make it that little bit easier if some specialist jargon happens to slip out during a meeting.
- Encouraging diversity
There’s no doubt about it, bias is bad for business – there is no place for stereotypes in modern business. Reinforcing stereotypes does nothing but create barriers within teams. Take getting to know your colleagues to the next level.
The idea of diversity stretches beyond the differences between men and women, ethnicity, race and any other protected characteristic. Diversity is the difference between the introvert and extrovert in the office, the doers and the thinkers, the life experiences that each of us bring to the table. Tapping into the diversity of the people you work with, can lead to richer and clearer communication, and not surprisingly better business decisions.
- It works both ways
This is particularly relevant when thinking about how our leaders and management teams at every level communicate. Bizarrely, many businesses still work on disseminating information solely in a top-down format, where information and critical information is provided to people often with little rationale or opportunity for people to ask questions.
Two-way communication is vital to ensuring that people feel assured that they are being listened to and are given the opportunity to express their ideas and give feedback on important topics. Valued employees are those that are engaged and connected. The ROI on two-way communication; employees are more likely to be giving the best of their ability because they are valued.
Glasgow Housing Association are a perfect example of this, completely shifting their internal communication to include a ‘blockage buster’ where staff could submit what was stopping them from achieving their potential to be fixed at the earliest opportunity.
After all, at the heart of communication lies the person or people whom you are communicating with. It’s being able to choose the right methods of communication – getting the right messages to the right people at the right time (bonus points if they have the opportunity to communicate with you as well!).