10 Rules For Communication With Co-Workers

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Are you sometimes having issues saying the right things or expressing yourself correctly at the workplace? Everyone needs to push their communications skills occasionally. Check out these 10 tips!

Over the last years our communication culture has changed dramatically. Communication tools have multiplied: social media channels, messaging tools and smartphones have changed our lives and thus our interactions. But there is no doubt that face to face communication still is an important skill to have, especially when it comes to business. Not only when you’re about to pitch your startup or in a meeting, where you have to communicate effectively to make progress. Conversations with co-workers – no matter if they’re about business or private matters – are a very special topic. Why? Because these talks will always have the business environment as the backdrop for exchange even though the actual content might be something else. Of course not all conversations will have the same impact on your future business life – but they certainly draw attention to your communication skills which say a lot about a person. Knowing that people are different and therefore respond differently to the words you use, you can optimize your communication by regarding the following rules.

#1: Understand your personal communication style.

To become aware of what you might need to change is essential – if you don’t know how you are talking to others at the moment how can you learn to optimize it? Ask yourself if you use active or passive diction? Are you direct? Are you logical? If you know what type of communication you use you get a better understanding of how people react to your communication. In order to do so you can evaluate the last conversations you had and what went wrong. Why did it go wrong? Was there something you could have said differently?

#2: Find out what’s the best way to conversate with you.

Do you prefer conversations in confidence? Do you feel more comfortable if there are more people around you? Of course this decision always depends on the situation but once you find out what you like best you can create the ideal conditions for yourself. And remember: if you feel comfortable the conversation will be much easier for every person involved. If you, on the other hand, feel you should respond to somebody else’s needs concerning the surroundings you can do so as well – ask them what they’d prefer and they will thankfully accept your offer. A bonus tip: Business conversations do not have to take place in an office. If you rather have lunch or coffee all conversational partners will be more relaxed and willing to talk about topics that matter.

#3: Build Trust.

Now this may sound obvious but I find that many people forget about trust. And yet it is essential in any relationship. If your co-workers don’t trust you how can you expect they will talk to you openly and tell you what they really want to? A lack of trust can also be the beginning of resentment, which is fatal for office relationships.
The increase of trust on the other side will bring co-workers closer together, resulting in a much more efficient organization.

#4: Be aware of stress.

I’m sure you’ve observed this yourself: when people are under stress they react differently and differently in this case means (almost every time) negatively. How can you tell if someone is stressed? Either they tell you right away, they tell you subliminally or you can watch out for non verbal signals: are their feet directed to the exit? If yes, they probably want to leave. This may be also the case if your conversational partner keeps checking his or her watch or if they seem distracted. What can you do if your co-worker is stressed and you have to talk to them? If it’s not urgent you can postpone the conversation to make sure all points can be discussed entirely. If you have to talk to them as soon as possible you can relax the situation by inviting them to take a seat or a coffee.
It is important that messages are delivered at the right moment if you want them to be received. Decide whether the matter can wait or has to be talked about immediately – but make sure the surroundings are as comfortable as possible.

#5: Don’t personalize criticism. Ever.

When talking to your co-workers about business and related matters doors are open for giving and receiving criticism. Though it might not always be easy you should never take it personally. Always ask yourself what’s behind it? What could you improve next time? Don’t think of criticism as something negative, rather something you can enhance yourself with. Some people are having a hard time giving constructive criticism which does not necessarily mean that they intend to give you a bad feeling about yourself or task you’ve completed. If you’ve heard something several times it’s worth to reflect it unemotionally and start asking yourself what you can do to change that?

#6: Be aware of your tone.

Now, others don’t intend to criticise you and you shouldn’t either. Respect your co-workers and talk to them the way you would want them to talk to you. Remember that it can continue to have an effect when you put on a harsh tone – people could keep that in mind and start to avoid you. If you’re stressed and about to scream at one of your co-workers (which we’ve all felt the urge to at once) take a minute and catch a breath. You’ll see that you’ll be calmer and your thoughts clearer. That’s the state you should have when communicating with someone.

#7: Use proper tools.

Yes, this article is mostly about face to face communication. However I can’t deny it’s 2014 and we have a ton of communication tools. You don’t always have to approach someone personally. Using the right medium (e.g. email, Facebook, Twitter) can make all the difference but remember that depending on which tool you choose, there is a difference about how it will be received.

#8: Talk to individuals.

Especially in a leading position it’s hard to say who you are talking to when managing a group. If you send a message to a group rather than individuals you run the risk that no one feels addressed. Try to view your talk force as a group of individuals – assign tasks to these individuals considering their personality and strengths. This way the group will work more efficiently and perform well. As a plus they will recognize how well you know them which gives you extra trust points!

#9: Conflicts will emerge in the workplace. Overcome them.

No matter what conflicts are about you should always approach the person you’re having it with and try to solve them. You don’t have to address it right away but it sure is a good idea not to let too much time pass. In most cases your co-workers are willing to solve the problem too just for the sake of retrieving a balanced business environment. Try to understand the other side and clarify all points in question. Overcoming a conflict will increase the satisfaction with the workplace and also with your job.

#10: No matter how messed up it gets: there’s always a way to fix it.

And yes, you guessed it: you can fix messed up communication with more communication. There will be misunderstandings, disagreements or even gossip (especially in a startup where many people are involved). Don’t duck your head if you feel it becomes too much. Rather find out who it is you have the problem with and approach them directly. There is no chance there will be a balanced co-worker relationship when unspoken topics stay unspoken.

In the end we all like to work at a place where everybody gets along. Why? It makes our job more fun, productive and easier. If you consider these rules in the next conversation with your co-worker(s) you can start building trust and become a person people will approach – not only in business matters.

 

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