“Often it’s the subtle remarks – the ones that paint us as incompetent and unconfident – that do the most damage.”
How true is that? Here are some helpful tips to improve the way we communicate at work:
1. “ I think… / This may be a silly idea… / I’m going to ask a stupid question.”
Introducing your question this way suggests that you lack confidence in what you are asking. Honor what you need to say and do not shoot yourself down. If you do not have a complete understanding or full information simply say, “It is my understanding that…” or “I don’t have that information right now, but I’ll find out and get right back to you.”
2. “This will only take a minute.”
Will it really? Chances are, probably not. Unless you can comfortably complete your discussion in less than 60 seconds ask for “a moment.” Give yourself the time to communicate with patience and completion.
3. “I can’t.”
To your teammates and managers “I can’t” sounds similar to “I won’t.” Rather than spending the time communicating what you cannot do, say what you can do.
Instead of “I can’t run those numbers,” say, “I don’t yet know how to do that. Is there someone who can show me?”
Effective communication increases your positivity and productivity because – without even realizing – you are focused on what is possible. In the words of the hilarious Tina Fey:
Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice.
Do you have any helpful workplace communication tips?