Your People Do Not Care If You Don’t Mean to Sound Mean

Clear and caring communication in the workplace almost sounds like an oxymoron since it sounds logical and easy, but really is not and often doesn’t happen.  When you think about how many actual relationships there are in your workplace the thought of having anything being communicated clearly to everyone is quite a feat, speaking in a caring way often is just not done. 

In our office there are six of us, this means that each person has 5 relationships (one with each of the other five) going on under one roof daily, that is a total of 30 relationships interacting each day!  No wonder we have a hard time with clear communication and sounding caring gets missed because many of our interactions are brief or hurried. 

When we are all busy trying to get our daily work done, we often try to hurry with our communication making is short and curt which can sound mean.  The receiver of a “mean” message will not hear what was intended by the speaker but will take the harshness of the spoken words to heart, and this is change how the person feels about the speaker.

Words are just words.  It is the way they are spoken that makes all the difference and understanding of them clearer.

1. When speaking to one person use their name so they know it is just them that you are speaking to, and make sure you have their attention.

2. When speaking to more than one person make sure that you have everyone’s complete attention, and they are ready to listen. Don’t make a habit of repeating yourself.

3. Do not speak in vague descriptions, i.e. “Do your best today.”  What does this really mean?  To you one thing and to the person you are speaking to something totally different and possibly they will think, “do they not think I do my best?”  “Are they really complaining about my work?”

4. Be clear and specific with your words, make what you say concrete and solid, no room for guessing. 

5.  Use follow-up questions to make sure that you were not only heard, but that what you said was understood correctly.  Never assume that just because you said it, that it was understood.

6. And most off all watch the tone of your voice and your body language.  You may be intending to communicate one thing, but the tone of your voice and your body language are saying something totally different.

Communication is an ongoing challenge that we must face daily in our workplace.  Look at it as a positive challenge that each person on the team should take part in creating better skills for making a better environment to work in.

Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood. ~ Freeman Teague Jr.

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