How to Understand and Be Understood Better at Work

Depending on several factors — including communication — a business team can be either a tight-knit, happy community or something employees dread.

A culture of great communication can make team members feel like they can be effective at work, but poor communication practices make them feel powerless.

You can use the five methods below to improve your team communication. If you’re a manager, it should be simple to start using them. If you’re not a manager, you could start practicing some of them yourself, like group texts and better listening, and then suggest them to your manager.

1. Establish a Communication Plan

Managers can improve communication by creating a written communication plan. Think carefully about a code of conduct for communication that you want your direct reports to follow. Pick universally-good habits of communication that’ll benefit everyone. 

Don’t establish rules that will restrict communication too much. It’s crucial for employees’ good ideas to get to you. Employees also need to be able to express their feelings when things are not going well. Encourage and empower workers to be honest within courteous guidelines.

You can also decide in advance what types of news and messages should be sent through group texts and emails, and which should be communicated in person.

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2. Clarify Roles and Expectations

This might seem surprising, but good team communication starts during the hiring process. How? By very clearly spelling out the roles and responsibilities of each new team member. When each person truly knows what is expected of him or her, many communication problems melt away. 

If there are any remaining doubts about an employee’s role and duties, take some time to write them out and discuss them with him or her. If you’re not a manager, and you’re confused about your responsibilities, you may need to respectfully request this type of meeting.

3. Work on Team Goals

Spend time with your team to write out your own team’s mission and goals. You might start with the big strategic goals of your company, then figure out together how your team can help make those happen in your own way.

When everyone on your team knows the objectives they should be working toward, it creates a shared language everyone can use while working. This level of clarifications gets rid of vagueness and generalities, improving communication almost automatically.

4. Adopt Powerful Communication Technologies

While your team communication habits continue to improve, look for communication technologies that are convenient, fast, and effective. There are some that allow group chats, group texts, sharing calendars, commenting on team documents, and much more.

Group texting is a simple, yet powerful technology, because almost all team members now carry a cell phone. SMS group texts can reach coworkers even when they’re not on the Internet to deliver timely and vital information.

5. Encourage Respect and Listening

Set a good example of respecting others and listening carefully to their concerns and ideas. Doesn’t it seem like people are less in tune with each other when cell phones are in sight? Put them away! Use your body language, tone, facial expressions, and active listening to show you respect others.

Above all, in every single business situation, practice showing respect to others. 

Encourage your team members to be candid about their thoughts and feelings while also being helpful and courteous. Set an example of great communication, and you will see your team productivity and workplace satisfaction soar.

James Lang

James is the Editor of Small Business Sense. His background includes freelance ghostwriting about things that impact SMEs, startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs. He hasn't had a boss in more than six years, and hopes his content will help you fire yours.