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How to Become a Better Communicator at Work

As humans, we are programmed to jump to conclusions simply in order to process the vast amounts of information we’re asked to deal with daily.

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BY Quora - 09 Nov 2017

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How can people become better communicators at work? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Jen Jamula, co-creator and host of 2 Girls 1 Podcast and a myriad of other creative projects, on Quora:

A research-backed rule in life is that we are drawn to people who display a potent combination of strength and warmth. It's a delicate balance: too much strength can be seen as aggression, and too much warmth as weakness. However, in equal amounts, these qualities invite both respect and support, so you are both guiding others and inviting them in. This plays out in workplace relationships in many ways, but the one I'll mention now is being direct vs. being soft. Think about how you tend to make requests at work. Are you so determined to be efficient that your requests come off as brusque? Are your questions to colleagues laden with casual fillers and niceties to the point of being unintelligible? Those are extremes, but which side of the spectrum do you default to? If you are overly direct more often than not, practice infusing your requests with warmth. If you are usually too nice, practice strengthening your ask by cutting out the fat and getting to the point.

Ask questions of your co-workers. As humans, we are programmed to jump to conclusions simply in order to process the vast amounts of information we're asked to deal with daily. Especially at work, and especially in 2017, you most likely face an onslaught of emails and interruptions throughout the day. This hard-wired assumption-making affects our relationships at work. When Jerry's late with his report yet again, you might assume he doesn't care about his work or you. This assumption might develop into a larger story in your head about how Jerry has a vendetta against you and is sabotaging your position as his manager. However, it's possible the real problem here is that you and Jerry are having a miscommunication about deadlines that could be cleared up with a few simple questions. At the get-go of a potentially problematic interaction, try your best to get on the same page with your colleague about what the issue is so you can work together to clear it up.

Finally, consider your body language and tone of voice. This is a big one-- too big to cover here, but simply: How much literal space are you taking up in meetings? Do you make yourself small, or do you really spread out? Consider what these actions say about your status in the room. How can you adjust your body language to appropriately engage with your colleagues or clients? Sometimes you might need to sit back to butter up a potential customer. Other times, you might want to impress your colleagues by owning the space. Your body language also affects your mind, so taking up more physical space at work will actually help you to feel more confident. If you're "manspreading" your way through meetings and are looking to be more receptive, manspread no more and notice how you can create space for others. As for tone, take stock of whether or not the tone of your voice is conveying what you hope-- do you drone on, condescend to others, or over-apologize simple in your tone of voice? Keep in mind what you really want to do to others -- soothe, excite, warn -- and it will affect your voice.

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