Do you ever say something to a coworker and wish you could have phrased yourself better? Good communication happens when our message is received how we intended. Sometimes what we communicate is misconstrued because we all have different communication styles. Here are five tips on how to communicate with confidence in the workplace:
1. Show respect
If you’ve heard it 1,000 times, get ready to hear it 1,001: treat others the way you want to be treated. When drafting emails or virtual messages, make sure your language cannot be misconstrued as rude. While we all have subjective views on rudeness, going the extra mile to sound warm and understanding can make a huge difference in how your message is received. Instead of starting a conversation by giving an order, greet the other person and ask them about their day before leading into the instructions you have for them.
Respectful communication also means you should not jump to negative conclusions when a coworker miscommunicates. If a coworker ignores your email or if a response sounds terse, don’t take it personally. Realize that there could be outside factors influencing your peer, rather than labeling the behavior as antagonistic.
2. Kiss fear goodbye
Sometimes we censor ourselves because we do not feel confident in our ideas. Even if someone asks for our opinion, we will tell them what they want to hear instead of our authentic thoughts. This often prevents great ideas from seeing the light of day. Remind yourself that your input matters and speak up during meetings. This doesn’t mean you should completely abandon your filter, but make sure to speak up and share your ideas with your coworkers.
3. Be aware of your presence
Even if you have the right words to sound self-assured, your body language and tone of voice will give you away. Even though many might spend the entire day in their home office, body language still matters. The easiest way to elevate body language is to smile. When people see a smile, it places them at ease and smiling changes your inflection when you speak. Don’t slouch during Zoom meetings, as bad posture communicates indifference and incompetence. Crossing your arms implies that you are less engaged. Become more mindful of how your visual cues affect the way others view you.
4. Proofread written correspondence
Nothing zaps confidence more than retroactively finding a typo that you made. Make sure to cross your T’s and dot your I’s when sending emails to coworkers and clients. Strong attention to detail shows professionalism and can make or break whether people take you seriously. Even when sending a group message in Slack, proofread your content before others see it. If you notice that you regularly make typos, examine where the problem may come from. Perhaps you multitask too much, or you invite too many distractions into your workspace. Turn off Spotify for a second and quality check your work. You can also install a proofreading app, like Grammarly, or read your work out loud while working at home.
5. Tailor the message to the person you are addressing
You wouldn’t speak to a priest the way you would speak with your best friend. Be mindful of who you’re addressing and craft your message in a way that is most palatable to them. Adapt to the communication style of the person you are speaking with. Do you have a coworker who prefers to send information through email rather than Slack? Accommodate them. When you are working on client work, ask the client what they want. If that’s not possible, speak with coworkers who are familiar with the client’s style. This will prevent you from missing the mark with external deliverables. Keep in mind that tailoring your communication is not the same as changing it. You can remain true to yourself while tweaking specific aspects to work more harmoniously with others.
It is never too late to strengthen your communication skills. Incorporate these tips at work to show your professionalism and emotional intelligence.