12 Essential Communication Techniques for All Professionals
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 2 August 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Communication is a crucial component of any business or institution. It's essential for all members within a work environment to share information effectively and efficiently. If you're a part of a team or you lead people at work, you may want to strengthen these skills. In this article, we outline 12 important communication techniques, discuss why communication is important in the workplace and give tips for using them at work.
Top 12 communication techniques for work
Here are 12 communication techniques you can use to improve how well you communicate in the workplace:
1. De-escalate emotional situations
When you de-escalate a situation, you reduce the stress for everyone involved. People often feel that their work or ideas are reflections of themselves. For this reason, giving or receiving feedback can sometimes be emotional. Here are some tips for de-escalating intensity and keeping your communication calm:
Make sure you are eye-level and not standing over the other person.
Relax your breathing and reduce your speaking pace.
Monitor your volume.
If you notice frustration in another person, ask them how they're feeling.
Reassure the person you're speaking with that your intentions are positive and growth-oriented.
Ask the person if they'd like a moment of privacy or time to recollect themselves.
2. Study the psychology of body language
Body language is an important part of communicating with others. Learning how to properly interpret body language can help you become a more effective communicator overall. Here are six tips for using body language to make conversations feel safe, open and comfortable:
Maintain eye contact.
Uncross your arms.
Use open hand gestures.
Position yourself at eye level or close to eye level.
Face the person you're speaking with.
Subtly mirror their posture.
3. Practise appropriate wait time
Wait time is the amount of time you give someone to respond to a question, idea or thought-provoking activity. An effective wait time depends on the situation, and it can allow the person you're communicating with enough time to express themselves fully. Communicators with skill in this area wait a few moments after they offer feedback, ask a question or give advice. Doing this gives the receiver time to process what you've said, and it shows respect for their feelings and thoughts regarding your words.
Appropriate wait time often results in stronger relationships and a deeper understanding of feedback or instruction. Additionally, letting someone think before they respond to you makes a conversation growth-centred and collaborative.
4. Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended questions are often polite and respectful and encourage a conversation or discussion instead of just giving information. Open-ended questions often allow the receiver to share more freely how they feel or what they know without feeling defensive. Here are several examples of effective open-ended questions:
'What was your favourite part of the meeting today?'
'How did you decide what criteria to use for this assignment?'
'Why do you think that person didn't like the idea?'
5. Give regular feedback
You can improve your communication with others by giving regular feedback. Feedback is an essential part of any workplace or educational environment because it shows that you care about the other person, their ideas and opinions and their feelings. People who receive feedback may feel respected, valued and safer expressing themselves. Here are some tips for giving regular feedback to team members in a work or school setting:
Use non-judgmental language.
Give the person you're speaking with time to process the information before you move on in your conversation.
Know when to give praise or criticism.
6. Practise active listening
Active listening is a non-verbal communication technique in which you pay attention to what the other person is saying and show your attention through your body language. It's similar to de-escalation in that it can reduce the intensity or volume of a conversation. To practise active listening, make it a point to give your full attention when someone is talking to you. Here are some tips for practising active listening:
Be quiet while someone is speaking and make sure they know you're paying attention by looking at them.
Pay attention when the other person pauses, becomes more animated or provides gestures more frequently.
Insert small phrases or words during pauses to show they're engaging you.
7. Accept feedback
When someone is giving you feedback, accept it with an open mind. If you're receiving negative feedback, use active listening to affirm that you're aware of the other person's opinion. If the feedback is regarding a personality or character trait, ask for more information and examples so you can fully understand their point of view.
If you don't agree with the feedback, try not to immediately disagree with what's being said. First, take time to reflect on the information you've received and whether it makes sense. Be sure to gather as much information about why someone has given negative feedback as possible so that your reactions are more effective.
8. Take notes
Taking good notes can help you remember important details and ideas related to another's feedback or instruction. This may also help you record important information for future meetings or in case of a conflict. Remember that note-taking is best done in a professional manner. Try to keep your handwriting legible and use respectful language.
9. Acknowledge other points of view
Acknowledging other points of view is a great way to help someone feel they're receiving your respect and full attention. You also encourage open communication and can improve relationships with others. Try to be specific about the aspects of another person's thoughts or feelings that you truly agree with, and mention something you learned from them.
10. Be empathetic
Being empathetic is a fundamental element of building trust, compassion and effective communication. Try to find ways to empathise with another person's situation, feelings or opinions. Doing this can help you develop stronger relationships with others and understand them better. Here are some tips for feeling empathy:
Ask personal and respectful questions.
Listen closely to what they're saying.
Seek clarification on specific points in the conversation.
Ask them about their feelings or emotions, if appropriate.
11. Consult a mentor
A mentor is someone who can provide insight, advice and support to help you improve your communication. If you're looking for a mentor or need one for your career or education, remember that there are many ways to find one. Here are some tips for finding a mentor:
Ask around the work or school environment you currently attend.
Join professional associations in the industry or sector you'd like to become knowledgeable about.
Search for mentors in the industry or sector that interests you online.
12. Practise outside of work
Once you've learned the essentials of effective communication, it's important to practise your skills in a variety of situations. The more you practise, the easier it may be for you to apply your communication skills to different work or school environments. Some good methods for practising outside of work include:
Read out loud every day, either alone or in public settings.
Speak with your friends about relationships or other topics that interest you.
Take part in discussions at networking events.
Why is communication important in the workplace?
Strong verbal, non-verbal and written communication improves efficiency in the exchange of information. It can also provide a better workplace culture and cultivate a sense of trust and respect among team members. Improvements in these areas can help contribute to an increase in overall productivity and the creation of a strong work culture among team members.
Tips for reinforcing communication skills
Reflecting on your words and actions is an important part of keeping your communication skills sharp. Here are three questions to ask yourself to ensure you're communicating well:
Ask yourself if you could have done better. Asking this question allows for self-reflection and self-awareness and can be a good way to practise giving and receiving feedback. If you think you could have done better, imagine how, and then try to use those strategies in the future.
Think about a scenario from a different perspective. Always try to imagine how you would feel if you were in the same situation as the other person. Think about whether you would be okay with a scenario if someone spoke to you the same way you spoke to them.
Focus on making your mentors proud. Think of a positive person in your life who gave you guidance, such as a parent, grandparent, coach, teacher or any other mentor. If that person was there and could see how you were communicating, consider whether your words and actions would make them proud.
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