So many of life’s problems could be avoided if people were better communicators. That’s especially true at the workplace, where getting up and talking in meetings isn’t the only stressful situation involving words. Each and every day, we engage in tiny exchanges with bosses and coworkers, and often, our inability to express ourselves and truly listen to other people leads to disagreements, animosity, and decreased productivity.
Luckily, Job Success Lab founder and Daily Muse contributor Lea McLeod has penned a great article called “5 Habits of Truly Amazing Communicators.” In the piece, she draws on her years of job-coaching experience and offers terrific tips for interacting with others — be they colleagues or folks you encounter in your day-to-day life. Read on to see what she recommends.
1. Replace “But” With “And” — If you don’t like a coworkers idea, the worst thing you can say is something like, “I see where you’re going with that, but…” The “but” makes it clear you don’t like their idea, and immediately, they’re on the defensive. “Instead, use ‘and:’ ‘I love that idea, and I think a slightly different approach would be most effective,'” McLeod recommends. The other person won’t feel completely invalidated, and together, you just might get somewhere.
2. Don’t Make Stuff Up — When you’re feeling under-appreciated or unfairly treated at work, it’s easy to say things like, “My boss is out to destroy me.” But that’s probably not true, and it’s definitely not helpful. “Communicating effectively is difficult enough; don’t add to it by making up stories that aren’t based in reality,” McLeod writes. “Good communicators stay rooted in facts.”
3. See All Sides of an Issue — Too often, McLeod writes, warring coworkers refuse to see each other’s point of view. They’ll engage in what appears to be a dialogue, but really, what they’re doing is restating their positions over and over and not really considering what the other person is saying. McLeod calls that “position defending,” and she’s not a fan. “Great communicators, on the other hand, ask questions and strive to understand all sides of the issue — instead of constantly repeating their side of the story,” she writes.
4. Enjoy the Silence — People hate pauses. They’re awkward, and they give the impression you’re at a loss for words, but as McLeod tells us, snippets of silence can be extremely valuable. They let you actually think about what the other person is saying, and that might lead to a better response.
5. Understand Where People Are Coming From — Because we’re all unique individuals with our own backgrounds, beliefs, and viewpoints, communication isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. The sooner you realize that, McLeod writes, the better off you’ll be. “For people to really hear you — and you to hear them — you need to understand that everyone carries filters, beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and cultural influences that shape their point of view,” she writes.