Mastering good communication is critical to entering, thriving and advancing in the workplace – it can help you make a positive first impression, handle a crisis, build strong relationships, network with impact, manage effectively, lift spirits and motivate teams!
According to a recent survey, conducted by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers, communication in the workplace is one of the most sought after skills among potential employees.
In fact, all 111 companies surveyed, cited that good communication skills were what they looked for in graduate employees.
However, the development of soft skills like good communication is something that is often talked about in HR circles but rarely elaborated on, leaving job seekers somewhat confused by what it entails. Here are five common scenarios that will help you avoid the pitfalls and assist you in communicating effectively at your place of work:
1. Scenario one: the interview
The interview phase is already a daunting process, and a time you want to put your best foot forward in terms of skill set and ability. However, don’t scrimp on little cues that can illustrate to your future employee that you’re an avid communicator and a good team player.
DO: Arrive on time and listen actively (rather than just talk).
Arriving on time, not late or too early, will communicate a number of things to your potential employer. Punctuality highlights that you are eager to chat and that you respect your future employer’s time. Additionally, listening to your prospective employer and picking up on verbal cues can provide you with the ultimate opportunity to mirror their language and apply your own experiences to the conversation in a way that is relevant to the company.
DON’T: Be arrogant.
While you should be prepared to discuss your professional achievements, there’s a fine line between genuinely communicating your wins and bragging. It’s important that you frame your accomplishments in the context of the impact on the organisation’s overall success and to reference collaboration and teamwork wherever relevant.
2. Scenario two: day-to-day office comms
You’ve landed the job of your dreams and have settled into the office dynamic. You have to communicate with your fellow teammates regularly.
DO: Keep it professional.
Keeping it professional can mean any number of things in the context of the workplace. However, when it comes to communication, particularly in the day-to-day, professionalism means the following:
- Keeping your interactions respectful and pleasant
- Understanding email etiquette (know your audience, be polite, timely, clear and concise)
- Being truthful with your team and manager
- Keeping conversation collaborative and solution-focused when talking through a problem
- Displaying positive body language (for example, making eye contact and not crossing your arms)
DON’T: Be afraid to take ownership.
If you make a mistake, admit it and fix it if you can, rather than trying to avoid or shift the blame. It will show that you’re a transparent and trustworthy employee, which is much more important than appearing to be perfect.
3. Scenario three: getting familiar
Given that we spend quite a lot of time at work, our colleagues can become our friends. And this is certainly an asset when it comes to shaping a positive team dynamic.
DO: Show genuine interest in others.
Getting to know your co-workers on a personal level can be a great step in learning to relate to them and building trust. Asking thoughtful questions and taking the time to remember names, dates and important life events really helps to build comradery in a team and makes for a more connected and supportive working environment.
DON’T: Engage in gossip.
It may seem like a harmless bonding exercise at first. However, once you open the doors to office gossip, you will find yourself called on to assert loyalties and divisions which will not play in your favour. Office politics is hard to avoid, but be the silent one. Silence, in this case, is golden.
4. Scenario four: managing a team
You’re finally getting an opportunity to take your responsibilities in the workplace to another level. Learning to be a good manager involves many soft skills such as leadership, critical thinking, delegation and of course, effective communication.
DO: Be an open book.
You should never assume that what you’re saying to your team is clear to them. What you should make clear is that you are open to your teammates asking questions. What’s more, that they can count on you to receive the information they need to assure efficient workflow and better workplace communication.
DON’T: Go into hiding.
Good workplace communication requires; you guessed it, communicating! If you’ve been assigned team leader, don’t throw a whole bunch of tasks at your team, give them deadlines, and then make yourself unavailable to address any issues or provide any clarification.
5. Scenario five: the first disagreement
You feel as though you’re pulling most of the weight, taking on tasks you shouldn’t, working overtime to pick up the slack from other employees. Then, you get attacked in the meeting for not being a team player…
DO: Empathise, listen, and learn.
Allow your team members or colleagues to speak first. They may want to air some grievances about your behaviour that you are unaware of. Listen to what they have to say. Then, assuming that you have all the facts, speak from a place of composure and stay focused only on workplace issues.
DON’T: Be aggressive.
There’s no need to be stubborn, point fingers, shout and brood. These are all counter-productive emotions and behaviours that will eventually see you leaving the company in a flurry of resentment or being shown the door.
Developing strong soft skills in communication, teamwork and problem-solving is a key focus across our range of undergraduate and postgraduate business degrees. Or, take your leadership and management skills to the next level with an MBA.