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Effective Communication Strategies at Work

By Anna Nelson

“Inflections, body language, and facial expressions play a role in our overall communication. These non-verbal cues help convey messages that mere words cannot—for better or worse.”

The phrase “communication is key” often accompanies literature surrounding romantic relationships. But this can and should be true in our professional relationships, too. Without communication, any kind of relationship can come crumbling down. There is no clearer example than the Tower of Babel. The sudden introduction of multiple languages confused the men working to construct “a tower with its top in the heavens” (Genesis 11:4-8). Therefore, such a tower went unfinished because how, when speaking in various tongues, can a professional team complete a task?

COMMUNICATION BARRIERS

While language barriers are perhaps a more severe example than many of us encounter on a daily basis in the workplace, they are analogous with much more common communication barriers. It does not seem like it at first glance, but the latter can be much more difficult to overcome. One can use a translator app or, if a long-term solution is necessary, one can learn a new language. But with communication barriers come entrenched nuances that can be more difficult, not only to detect, but to change.

THE UNSPOKEN WORD

Inflections, body language, and facial expressions play a role in our overall communication. These non-verbal cues help convey messages that mere words cannot—for better or worse. Complicating things further, the prevalence of written communication, such as email and text messages, fail to convey those unspoken signals.

REMEMBER C.H.R.I.S.T. (Clarify, Hear, Respect, Include, Support, be Transparent)

Much like when talking to a romantic partner, it is imperative that you speak to everyone with dignity. From your support staff, to your subordinates, to your peers, to your bosses, executives, board members, stockholders, vendors, customers, and clients —your goal should be to leave everyone with their dignity intact. Just remember to always include C.H.R.I.S.T.

“From your support staff to your subordinates, to your peers, to your bosses, executives, board members, stockholders, vendors, customers, and clients —your goal should be to leave everyone with their dignity intact.”

Clarify

You must leave ambiguity behind. The less those with whom you interact must assume your words’ meaning, the more accurately and efficiently tasks will be completed. Over clarification in the beginning can ultimately save time, by cutting out misunderstandings, and save money, by getting a job done right the first time. Otherwise, assumptions can lead to unsatisfactory results.

Hear

Make sure everyone you encounter feels heard. That means truly listening to everyone who speaks to you or with you. Try not to be thinking about your next question, an unrelated task, how you would do it better, etc. while someone is talking to you. You never know what you might miss. You never know how much that person needs to be heard. And you never know what loyalty and respect that simple act might garner.

Respect

St. Mother Theresa said “Let no one ever come to you without feeling better and happier.” Always choose words that lift people up. Whether it is a subordinate or a c-suite executive, everyone deserves respect. When addressing a mistake, turn it into a learning opportunity. You must find out why it happened and communicate ways to ensure it does not happen again. You will catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Include

You must have a team mentality. While some topics, of course, are confidential or are on a need-to-know basis, try not to be exclusive in your communication. Keeping people in the dark will only leave them searching for light elsewhere.

Support

You should lift those up around you, use words of encouragement. You should find ways to inspire ideas and creativity, hold brainstorming sessions, and build off others’ ideas. You should always support dreams, goals, and ambitions.

(be) Transparent

You must let truth prevail. The best way to do that is to leave no room for speculation and rumors. You must be as open and honest as possible with those in the workplace. If you cannot meet a deadline, communicate that. If you cannot compromise on a price, say that. You must always be sure to explain why. If an untruth is circulating, you should spread only the truth. Do this, and trust will be abundant.

While we are used to hearing “What Would Jesus Do?” Let us also remember, what would C.H.R.I.S.T. say.


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