Communicating effectively in the workplace is crucial to a successful working environment. With all the new methods of communication, sometimes keeping up with your coworkers can feel like a juggling act where balls are dropping with missed emails, phone calls, and other messages falling to the ground.
Here are five easy habits you can start using today to help you become more effective at communicating in the workplace:
Habit #1: Return all calls and emails within 24 to 48 hours even if you just let people know you received the message and will need to get back to them soon.
Your clients and coworkers want to know you received their message. Sometimes, you will have the time to respond with the needed information, but other times you may need to properly draft a response. Simply letting the sender know you received their message goes a long way to making everyone feel heard, understood, and appreciated.
Habit #2: Thank people for contacting you and your organization first.
Whether you’re using email, phone, or even a social networking site, thank your clients for reaching out to you and your organization. Feeling appreciated makes people more likely to work effectively with you and can make you feel good, too.
Habit #3: Schedule 30 minutes each morning, midday, and afternoon to respond to emails.
In this era of instant communication, email can often feel like quicksand where the constant influx of messages threatens to drown us. Studies show that workers who regularly interrupt their day to immediately reply to email messages are less effective as constant interruptions prevent them from focusing on work long enough to get anything done. By scheduling specific times to reply to emails, you can still be timely in your communications without allowing email to dictate your actions. Also, make sure to allow time in the afternoon between answering emails and going home so you can decompress.
Habit #4: Communicate face-to-face as much as you can rather than relying on email.
People are swamped with email and often overlook them either accidentally or on purpose. Speaking face-to-face makes communication more personal, and helps clients and coworkers feel heard, appreciated, and listened to. It also helps you know your message was heard and not overlooked.
Habit #5: Avoid text messaging within your organization, especially if you want to refer back to the message.
Text messaging is pervasive and it’s a great tool for quickly letting people know you’re on your way, you’re going to be late, or to send a quick thank-you. However, you should avoid text messaging regarding important projects, assignments, or communicating with coworkers or subordinates as text messaging’s informality can dilute the importance of your communication. In addition, text messages are easily deleted or lost, resulting in an inability to refer back to the message in the future should you need to. For quick, inconsequential communication, text messaging is great. For everything else, use email, telephones, or face-to-face meetings.
Start using these habits today and you’ll see improvements in the effectiveness of your communications as well as better results in your own working style. In addition, as new methods of keeping in touch with your coworkers and clients are introduced, you can change these habits to fit the new forms of keeping up, too.
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Art Edgerly & Eric Jacobson