If you read any article about creating a successful and happy working life, you will see that good communication is always listed as one of the main keys to achieving this. So, why is good communication so important? The short answer is: because it underpins everything you do, both in your personal and professional life. As such, being able to communicate effectively, as well as appreciating the importance of doing so, is a vital part of any career.
One area of professional communication that may sometimes become difficult is communicating effectively with colleagues. Due to working closely with your colleagues every day, miscommunications and misunderstandings are bound to arise. Sometimes, you may even be unaware that you are not communicating effectively with your colleague/s. While the odd occasion of poor communication can usually be glossed over, recurrent episodes of bad communication have an impact not only on your colleagues but also on the company as a whole.
Some common bad communication habits include:
• Not responding to your colleague’s emails and/or requests in a timely fashion.
• Being vague when working on a task with colleagues. This includes not letting people know which aspects of a task you will perform, as well as not informing others about your expectations of them.
• Not being constructive when giving feedback to a colleague.
• Engaging in office gossip.
• Not letting your colleagues know when you will deliver on a task or project. It is important to note that even if you know you will get it done on time, you still need to keep others informed of your progress. Otherwise, it can create unnecessary stress for the rest of your team.
• Communicating in a confusing way – either by using a flowery language or excessive acronyms, mumbling, or using body language that contradicts your words.
As you can see, there is a range of things that are considered to be bad communication habits. If you have read through the above list and realise you engage in some of these behaviours, never fear – the great thing about habits is that they can always be replaced with more useful ones. For example, if you tend to waffle on a bit, focus on being direct and precise so that your colleagues are clear about what you are trying to say. Or, if you forget to inform others about your progress on group tasks, set up a daily or weekly catch up with your colleagues so that you can all keep each other up-to-date.
If your poor communication habits have led to a rift with colleagues, then one way to rectify this is to own up to your mistakes. Be honest and hold yourself to account, outlining to your colleagues where you went wrong and how you have changed your communication style so that the issue does not occur in the future.
Other good communication habits you should try to use as often as possible are to practice active listening, use appropriate body language and tone, display interest in what your colleagues are doing, and keep lines of communication open. Most importantly, you should always ensure that you are treating your colleagues with kindness and respect.