Effective communication is one of the most important skills for any employee to develop. The bad news is that most employees do not actually receive any training on how to communicate with their co-workers and clients. The good news is that most communication skills can be learned over time with deliberate and intentional practice.
Consider Your Tone
Written communication can be tricky. Sarcasm and humor don’t always translate. Jokes may come off wrong. Don’t be too casual with your communication, otherwise you run the risk of crossing personal boundaries. Keep the cursing to a minimum and do not tell off-color jokes or stories.
Consider Your Methods
The way you communicate can depend on the message, who you are communicating with, and what the topic is. Also consider the urgency of the topic and the length of the communication. Email works for some, but sometimes a phone call, meeting, office visit, text, instant message, or even social media may be best suited for the situation. A good rule of thumb is to respond in the way that the communication was initiated or in the way that they prefer.
Consider People’s Communication Styles
People have different ways of communication. Some are thinkers and need to analyze and process longer than others. Some are energized by ideas and like to think of all the different possibilities. Some value relationships and people’s feelings above all else. Some may be action-oriented who have little patience for rambling dialogue. By learning how others best communicate, we can adjust our own style to better communicate with others.
Consider Your Writing Skills
Nothing screams “unprofessional” like poor spelling or grammar or even poor verbal skills. Always spell check your communication and take time to review anything before posting. If you’re not catching errors, have someone else review your work before sending. For verbal skills, always pay attention to how you say things and look for ways to improve.