Are you communicating effectively with coworkers?
One of your most important audiences is co-workers. You are communicating to every co-worker in your vicinity, sending both verbal and non-verbal signals. You may be communicating consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, actively or passively. Regardless of your intentions, others are watching and hearing from you. They are your audience and have the same power as any other audience. They can engage you, tolerate you, or dismiss you. When your audience consists of co-workers, poor communication skills may be limiting your career without you knowing it. Co-workers are often those whom you spend significant time communicating with and can be the same people you struggle to interact with effectively.
As a leader, professional, or influencer, co-workers may be your most important audience. They have the power to help or inhibit you. They may represent one of your closest friends or become one of your worst professional enemies. They can encourage and support you or slander and undermine you.
When you need to communicate something of significance or importance, your ability to effectively communicate with this audience relates to how you purposefully and intentionally interact with them.
Purposeful communication requires you to make a personal connection and commitment to a shared value, idea, decision, or action. Only understanding what you are saying seldom produces results. Purposeful communicators ask themselves:
- Why do I want to communicate with that person? Identify what you want them to hear and in a manner that they can retell to you.
- How will I recognize the person appropriately responds to my message? Listen to their responses and identify any concerns, objections, or hesitancy that you can address immediately.
- When can I follow-up to assure we are still aligning with each other? People are busy, and demands re-prioritize commitments, so checking back is essential.
Intentional communication requires you to be strategic about how you will communicate by selecting the right time, place, tone, and structure for your message. Intentional communicators ask themselves:
- What will be the right time and place that will best allow for an uninterrupted exchange? Create an environment that will represent the best setting.
- How am I thinking and feeling about the person and the topic? Make sure you prepare yourself by being clear about your message and ready to communicate it.
- How can I structure my message to support a productive conversation? Offering an authentic affirmation relating to the purpose for your conversation often draws a person’s attention to your message.
Steve Tonkin and Company is a partner company of Effective Presentations. Steve helps people understand how a person’s intrinsic motivations influence authentic and effective communication. He helps companies improve culture by being more employee centered. Steve states,
Taking time to understand the person behind the title or the role will significantly improve the effectiveness of your communication by increasing understanding and trust.
Being purposeful and intentional can help minimize subtle or unintentional messages which often create harm. You will be able to avoid conversations that begin with, “I didn’t say that” or “I didn’t mean for you to take it that way.”
Tips for communicating more effectively with co-workers.
Your co-workers will appreciate your efforts to communicate effectively with them. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next communication.
- Prepare for your next conversation by clearly identifying what you want to communicate or an issue you want their help to solve.
- Allow time to have a real conversation so you can hear what they are telling you.
- See the person behind the words and avoid devaluing or judging them too quickly.
- Take time to see the person and not just what they bring to the organization or your team.
- Follow-up with an email, or text, acknowledging the takeaways from the conversation and thank them for their time.
Communicating with co-workers as people, or being person-centered, and not just work colleagues can take additional effort. Organizations can improve the workplace by being more employee centered. Our partner organization, Steve Tonkin and Company, provides a 1-minute survey measuring, “How Employee Centered is Your Organization” and provides some free resources.