7 Tips to Foster Effective Communication at the Workplace

Effective communication drives to better performance at work while poor communication costs money. According to a 2023 report, miscommunication costs companies $12,506 per employee per year. This is significant considering 72 percent of the average employee’s workweek is spent communicating.

Tips to Foster Effective Communication at the Workplace

How to foster effective communication at work

Emails, chat messages, phone calls, and in-person discussions fill the work day, and yet, there’s still so much room for improvement.  If you feel like your team isn’t communicating effectively, audit your current processes with these seven actionable tips to prevent miscommunication and reduce confusion within your organization.

Stop multitasking

Nearly 80 percent of workers say they multitask during meetings. They check their email messages or continue working during phone calls. Some even complete household chores like washing dishes or folding laundry. When most of your team doesn’t have to fully pay attention, then the meeting could have probably been an email.

If you’re guilty of multitasking, try to break this habit. Not only does it limit your ability to listen, but it can actively harm your mental health. It prevents you from fully concentrating on one idea while putting extra stress on your brain.

Focus on one thing at a time as often as possible. This small step can increase your retention and make you a better communicator.

The multitasking myth got busted a long time ago, start monotasking now!

Practice active listening

Passive listening occurs when you’re scrolling social media or playing with the dog while on a call. However, there are other ways that passive listening can hurt your communication efforts. If you ever got distracted by another coworker or your mind wandered to your lunch plans during a conversation, you weren’t actively listening.

Take steps to become an active listener. These include:

  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Focus on what the person is saying, not on your response.
  • Confirm what the other person said before adding your comments.
  • Ask questions based on what they say.
  • Take time to process the information.

Active listening takes practice, but it will certainly pay off and ultimately lead to effective communication. You might be surprised by how much you remember once you build this habit. Be sure to share these tips with your coworkers, too.

Eliminate unnecessary meetings

If your schedule (and the schedules of your coworkers) is packed with meetings, your day is likely full of information sharing and communication. It’s nearly impossible to remember everything you discussed.

Audit your meetings. Identify which of them are truly necessary and which attendees are essential. Even if you can reclaim a few hours each week, you’ll still cut down on your time spent listening and sharing information that you don’t need. This opens up more window for truly meaningful work.

Remember (and share) email best practices

We all know someone who has 10,000 emails in their inbox. This organized chaos seems to work for them. Yet, it drives the anxiety of their inbox-zero coworkers through the roof 😀

Here are a few email best practices:

  • Allocate specific time in the day to check your email.
  • Use folders to categorize emails easily and then find them again quickly.
  • Follow the 1-minute rule. If it takes one minute to reply, do it immediately—otherwise, wait.
  • Don’t check emails in the middle of a task. Wait until you’re done or for your specific time of day.
  • Set up an OOO email whenever you’ll be gone to avoid any miscommunication about responses or response time.

As a leader, you can talk to your team about managing their inboxes. And you can also practice it yourself.

Develop clear communication processes

Process development is an essential part of communication. For example, every meeting should come with an agenda before it starts and have a follow-up message that covers what was discussed. This is an example of a process used to guide discussions.

If you’re developing new processes or honing existing ones, take time to write them down. Share these processes with your team. Get everyone on board with how to lead meetings and share documents. In turn, you’ll eliminate confusion and communication barriers.

Create a safe space to communicate

Speaking up as an employee is an act of vulnerability. Employees take risks when they express their emotions, disagree with a decision, or point out a mistake that someone made. Speaking up can challenge their relationship with their coworkers and their managers. If you want your employees to feel safe communicating with you and their peers, you need to lead with a healthy company culture.

To understand the value of a safe workplace, you have to look at the risks of operating a toxic one. If your team members don’t feel comfortable speaking up, they might not point out critical mistakes. They might not suggest ways the organization can improve. Their silence can cost the company in the long run and prevent others from speaking up in the future.

Company culture starts with leadership. Listen to your team and help them speak up. This is one of the best ways to improve communication.

Make space for one-on-one interactions

One way to foster safe effective communication is to schedule one-on-one conversations. Group meetings favor extroverts, who feel confident talking in front of others and making their opinions known. Introverts, on the other hand, might not want to command the room and instead might stay silent. This doesn’t mean their ideas are any less valuable.

Schedule one-on-one conversations with your staff. It can be a weekly meeting or it can mean starting the day with a five-minute stand-up to review their tasks. Let this be an open space for your staff to share their ideas, concerns, and problems directly with you.

Nurture your workplace communication

Communication is a process that needs to be maintained and nurtured. Apply these points of focus to your workplace communication. Look for areas where you or your employees are getting bogged down or wasting time.

Remember that small changes to how you communicate can have a big impact on your work environment, productivity, and employee engagement. So don’t be afraid to start with simple shifts right now and work your way up to the big stuff.

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