P oll any group of employees—
mailroom to the upper
levels of management – and
you’ll find poor workplace
communication as one of the
top organizational complaints.
For something that
we do every day, we just
don’t seem to be very good
at it. In fact, the attitude
that communication should
come naturally may be contributing
to the problem,
since workplace communication
remains one of the most
overlooked and untrained job
Although most employees
have little control over their
processes, all of us contribute
to the quality of our
through our interactions with
our coworkers. Here are a
few tips to improve communication
in your own corner
of the workplace.
For a Happier
Just the facts, ma’am.
Many a meeting has been derailed by the one
or two participants who seem unable to limit
their input to the subject at hand. Before
speaking, envision topical bullet points and
limit your comments to them. If you find
yourself veering off course or notice others
looking at their watches as you speak, wrap it
up by briefly summarizing your main points.
Never assume that an electronic message has
been received. Digital information can be lost
in transmission or accidentally deleted by the
person receiving it. Make a habit of regularly
following up on important communications.
Give frequent updates.
It’s easy to lose perspective when working on
large-scale projects that aren’t due for completion
until months later. Schedule daily,
weekly, or monthly summaries of work in progress
in order to keep superiors, co-workers,
and subordinates up to date and aware of
changes that may affect them.
No one likes to be told no. When asked to perform
a task that may take you away from other
important work, inform the requestor of the
time or expense the task will take to accomplish,
and the effect it will have on your previously
scheduled projects. Armed with this information,
the requestor will be able to draw
his or her own conclusions about whether to
proceed, and is less likely to focus on your
perceived “unwillingness” to do the work.
Never say “no” as a first response
Limit your message list.
Nothing is more frustrating than being copied
on an e-mail chain about a topic that doesn’t
concern you. Abuse of the “copy all” function
reduces productivity, creates confusion, and
eventually causes employees to disregard important
communications because they no
longer have the time to filter relevant information
from the avalanche of information overflowing
from their in-boxes. Before hitting the
send button, mentally verify that each person
on the copy list needs access to the information
Always follow up.
Know your audience.
© 2008 EAPtools.com E041
Clinical Social Worker with extensive workplace employee counseling and intervention experience. Former professional counselor serving many large federal and private industry employee assistance programs. Publisher of the newsletter used by the U.S. Congress for it’s employees, WorkLife Excel.