How often have you given direction to a fellow workmate and later wondered, “Did they really understand me?”

Have you ever attended a staff meeting and asked yourself, “How do they expect me to do this task?”

These questions, although valid, often never get answered until it is too late.

Communicating is Vital

You would think that in this age of communication, with Smartphones and intraoffice applications like Slack, we would be more comfortable speaking with one another, asking questions and so forth.

In reality, though, we let the fear of appearing ignorant prevent us from requesting more information.

Why is this detrimental?

  1. It causes needless stress.

We may spend hours or even days stressing and researching about how to perform a task when our issue could have easily been solved by simply asking a coworker a question.

  1. It creates misunderstandings.

When we don’t communicate, we assume. And when we assume, we are often wrong! Wrong assumptions are a catalyst for conflict within our team.

  1. It discourages great opportunities for collaboration.

By taking on a task ourselves without asking for any assistance, we avoid the possibility of a better outcome – the result of many minds working together.

How to Foster Communication

  • You can never ask too many questions!

The more clarity, the better. By asking a series of follow-up questions, you gain more understanding and can then accomplish your assignment with greater accuracy on your first attempt.

  • Don’t be condescending.

When giving direction it is good to ask your team if they understand what is required of them; however, do not ask in such a way that they feel ashamed if they did not fully understand the requirements. Instead, you can kindly ask if anyone has any questions or if they will need any assistance as they complete their assignments for the day.

  • Don’t overreact.

If someone responds negatively to your direction or question, get to the heart of the matter. This miscommunication can be resolved by calmly reflecting on the issue to understand your coworker’s point of view.

  • Give others the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t assume that the reason why a task wasn’t completed as scheduled is because a team member was lazy in doing their job. Rather, assume positively, that they are working to the best of their ability. It may be that there needs to be a change in procedure or in that person’s workload in order to prevent such an outcome from happening again.

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