Workplace Communication 201: It’s What You Say AND How You Say It
Effective communication in the workplace requires thought, planning, and a good dose of people savvy. Whether you’re delivering a dicey performance evaluation, addressing a peer, or asking the boss for a much-deserved promotion, you can improve your odds of being heard by using the following strategies and techniques:

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you’ve got a specific message to deliver, practice what you’ll say and how you’ll say it. Envision the recipient’s response. How will the conversation flow? Consider as many possible scenarios as are reasonable. Be ready to handle whatever comes your way.

  • Find an appropriate place to talk. If the conversation is private in nature, don’t bring it up in front of others. Plan ahead to assure an appropriate setting is available.

  • Listen before you speak. Many times, the most effective way to get your point across is to let the other person talk first. You can get things rolling by asking his opinion or perspective on the situation. Then just sit back and listen. What better way to understand how the other person feels and what he thinks… and then to frame your message accordingly?

  • Empathize. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view. You can and should work on this even before starting the conversation.

  • Start with something positive. If you begin the conversation on a genuinely positive note, you will help set your listener at ease. He’ll be less defensive and better able to hear what follows.

  • Use appropriate language. Don’t talk down to people by overly simplifying language. Likewise, don’t try to wow the other person with your working knowledge of obscure words or needlessly technical terminology.

  • Be kind. Be aware of your tone of voice. You can deliver even the most negative feedback without figuratively beating up the recipient.

  • Be clear. The other party shouldn’t have to work at figuring out what you’re trying to say.

  • Be concise. Get to the point, then move on. Most people have a whole lot of other work to attend to and are eager to get back to their ‘to do’ lists. Don’t waste their time or yours by dancing around the issue.

  • Be direct. Communication shouldn’t be a game of ‘20 Questions.’ Say what you mean. Chances are, the other person will appreciate your straightforward approach.

    In the words of Lee Iacocca, “You can have brilliant ideas but if you can’t get them across, they won’t get you anywhere.” Be strategic in your communication. Get your ideas out there. Be heard.