How to be a Better Communicator in the Workplace

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Let me guess. You are tired of not being taking seriously. You can't understand why nobody listens to your ideas...unless they are reiterated by someone else like five minutes after you. 

I get it. It's not fun. 

But people aren't going to start taking you seriously until you take you seriously. Ready to step up? Good. It's time for you to become a better workplace communicator. 

Here's the first thing: stay cool. The worst thing you could do is become the office hothead. Too many times I hear stories of friends who have lost it in meetings with their senior management. They've started screaming and sometimes they've even cried. It's hard to be taken seriously when you're acting like a five year old. That might sound harsh, but be honest - would you take you seriously? So go for a walk, get your emotions under control, stick to the facts and don't let your emotions get the best of you.

Now on to step two: modulate your voice. This is particularly important for women. When you speak does it come off sing-songy or do you find yourself ending sentences in a question? You mean to say, "This is the proposal for tomorrow's meeting," but it actually comes off as, "This is the proposal for tomorrow's meeting?" Think back. I'm betting you can recall a time or two where this was you (sorry, did not mean to rhyme!). Ending sentences in this way diminishes your authority. It's a dead giveaway that you don't trust yourself and will make people question you, too. You need to trust and believe in yourself first before anybody else will. 

Then try this: listen. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we want that we forget to think about other people. You might be having a hard time getting buy-in because you aren't hearing other people's issues and concerns. Listen to what they have to stay and adjust your pitch to reflect how your idea will help them too. People are more willing to help when they understand what's in it for them. Show that what you are proposing is a win/win for them, too!

Next, you'll want to do this: document it. It might sound a little paranoid, but build a paper trail. After every meeting, even if it's just a casual hallway chat, should be recapped in an email. Why? So when something doesn't happen or if things don't go to plan, you can reference the notes. It's also a good way to ensure alignment between all parties as it shows that you were listening and understood what was said. Plus, this gives everyone else involved the chance to reply and clarify any points that might be causing confusion. 

Communicating in the workplace is about both verbal and non-verbal communication. Learn how to read the people around you to be better able to connect with them. Not only will it help diffuse any stressful workplace situations, it'll help make you and the team with which you work more productive as you'll avoid countless misunderstandings and frustrations. Knowing how to successfully navigate workplace communications will help establish you as a leader, build your authority and ensure you always have a voice at the table.