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We spend more time in the workplace than we spend with our loved ones, trying to like your colleagues is an important part of your day-to-day work.

According to Wikipedia, effective workplace communication is the process of exchanging information, either verbal or nonverbal, within an organization.

Since we spend more time in the workplace than we spend with our loved ones on a daily basis, trying to like your colleagues and work well with them is an important part of your day-to-day work. Who you work with is so important to your health, well-being, and job satisfaction. Many individuals feel that they are bullied at work and they cope with these feelings by not going to work, calling in sick, avoiding the person, or gossiping to other coworkers.

As someone who thought I was immune to not liking your coworkers and not looking forward to head to work, the turnover has been high in my workplace and the new colleagues have different values than mine.  Sometimes I find myself supremely annoyed by these new coworkers.  However, I have to find a way to work around this to once again begin to look forward to heading to work again.

We all have different communication styles and we must understand that everyone is different when it comes to communicating. Some may be more vocal than others, some may automatically resort to negative thinking even when they don’t understand the context.

With better communication skills, we function better at work and are more productive. Your manager will see that you are great at communicating and leadership. It’s a win-win situation to learn effective communication strategies.

Here are four strategies to communicate more effectively at your workplace:

Don’t assume

John says “good morning” to Jason on Tuesday. Jason doesn’t respond. John gets annoyed and thinks that Jason is ignoring him (then imagines strangling him). He starts to think that Jason has a grudge against him and thinks, “hey, was it because I didn’t agree with him on that project the other day?” Jason starts to get pissed that Jason would be so petty.

Now, this scenario could easily get worse, but instead of assuming that Jason is ignoring him, John should just ask Jason. We are not clairvoyant and we don’t really know what the other is thinking.

Jason was actually having a bad morning- he was late to work because his child refused to go to school again and he had a terrible fight with his wife the night before. He is stressed and did not hear Jason say hi to him because he was preoccupied with his own thoughts.

Get to Know Them

This also goes along with not assuming that the person is “bad” or that you have completely different personalities and you’ll never ever get along or be friends. Have an open mind. Get to know the person you’re having communication difficulties with outside of work.

Sometimes, when we get to know the person, our previous assumptions of the person melt away and we find out that we actually have a lot in common with your previous “frenemy.”

Use the Sandwich

Let’s face it, no one really like criticism. Criticism is a delicate matter and often many individuals have difficulty giving it (or they are on the other spectrum and they give it out too easily). As there may be a lot of people out there who are sensitive to perceived criticism, using the Sandwich technique is an important and easy way to give constructive feedback. In the sandwich technique, you identify the positives, put the constructive feedback in the middle, and end it with another positive. WikiHow has a good “tutorial” on how to effectively utilize the sandwich technique.

Think Positively

Finally, thinking positive is really important. Instead of dreading to head to work Sunday evening, think about the positives at your workplace. Do you have an effective manager? Be grateful for that. Do you like your desk? Do have you have a close work buddy you can talk to? Thinking about the positives can really turn things around for us at work and will help you increase productivity and increase your feelings towards work.

Instead of running away from your problems (e.g. switching from job to job, deciding to leave the rat race and opt for lower income), developing communication skills is important for us all. These strategies, like thinking positively, getting to know your colleagues outside of the workplace, not assuming things, and using the sandwich to give constructive feedback are just some examples of learning how to communicate effectively in the workplace so you can once again enjoy work.

Readers, do you have other tips for effective communication at the workplace?

Article comments

TheTWLeader says:

I am glad you state don’t assume first. I think this is one of the most important concepts for effective workplace communication. Workplace noise and distractions can lead to communication problems between sender and receiver. When in doubt ask questions.

I’ve read related your post positive communication quote – “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said – Peter F. Drucker

Tahnya Kristina says:

I love this post. Communication is a huge problem in my workplace. I honestly believe that a lot of conflicts among coworkers are caused by a miscommunication or the lack of communication.

Teacher Man says:

It’s amazing how universal this seems to be.

Jane says:

Thanks for posting this! I will definitely share this to my friends complaining about their co-workers. I would also like to add having respect. We should respect other people, their talents and even their flaws. I know a lot of people who fight with their co-workers because of competition, but I think it’s not about who gets praised by the boss, it’s about doing our job the best way we can, regardless if others did it better or not.

Teacher Man says:

Mutual respect is key in any workplace. It’s amazing how positive momentum can build in a good environment that has respect, and spiral downward if it doesn’t.

I’m always surprised at just how often the majority of employees and managers are poor communicators. I use the sandwich strategy often. Other strategies that work are framing your issues in a positive and constructive way (instead of “You did this” say “this happened, and we need to find a way to prevent it from happening again) and being solution oriented instead of screw up oriented.

Thanks for the great post!

young says:

@Jordann- I think that managers need to be effective communicators because they are seen as the leaders. When the manager is a poor communicator, the entire workplace suffers!

Megan says:

This is a great resource for people – especially the criticism sandwich!

I would add to add the importance of using “I” statements. It sounds very grade-school – but when you say: “I feel as if my opinions don’t matter when I am interrupted in meetings” goes a lot further than “You always interrupt me, and it’s incredibly rude.”

Blaming or accusatory language puts people on the defensive – when everyone should be trying to find a solution.

young says:

@Megan- Yes- thank you for sharing the “I” statements- so important!!

CRA29 says:

If only a bunch of people would read this at work, it would be a much happier place for them.

Communication over the phone or in person is more effective than email. So many times an email has been taken the wrong way.

I like the sandwich idea, I will use it tomorrow and see how it goes.


young says:

@CRA29- So? How did it go? It’s so easy to forget to use these tips when we’re in the heat of the moment! It’s almost like I need a reminder in front of my mirror.