Many workplaces seem to speak their own language. Often this is because of the particular industry, technology, or niche in which they operate. Specific terms, abbreviations, and other language peculiarities can make it difficult to understand and be understood. And if verbal or written communication is not a strong suite of yours to begin with, that can compound the problem.
If you’re concerned about your ability to communicate effectively as a temporary employee, here are some tips to help you hone your communication skills:
- Always be clear and direct
If you’re sharing information with a fellow worker or a boss, be sure to use language that is specific and clear – whether it’s written or spoken. If you’re not sure of the correct workplace or industry term, don’t try to use it. Use language with meanings that are clear to you – this will help you be clear with others. Leave the industry jargon to those who know for certain how to use it correctly.
- Be an active listener
Make an effort to understand what another person is trying to say to you. If you’re not sure about what they’re trying to tell you or how they’re saying it, ask them to repeat it or phrase it another way that will make it easier for you to understand. Don’t interrupt and don’t assume you understand – always ask for clarification if you‘re not sure. The best communicators are the best listeners.
Once the person has finished telling you something, repeat the message back to them briefly and in a different way. This helps both of you – it confirms that you understand the message and assures the other person that they’ve communicated it correctly.
- Communicate face-to-face
Whenever faced with the challenge of conveying or receiving complex information, choose to do it in person, if possible. A direct, face-to-face conversation provides visual and audible cues that can help both of you understand and give both parties the immediate opportunity to ask questions and receive answers.
- Show respect
Look the other person in the eye when speaking with them. Use their name. If you’re communicating in writing, review your message carefully before sending to ensure that it’s clear and the tone is correct. When participating in telephone conversations, don’t multi-task. Most people can tell when the other person is involved in something other than the conversation.
- Use a medium that’s most effective
Some of us are better at speaking than writing and vice versa. In some cases, the information being shared is better conveyed by a specific form of communication. Likewise, the other person may have a preference in how they like to receive information. Always share information in a form that is most effective for the situation and the message.
- Custom tailor the conversation
Depending on with whom you’re communicating may determine the style of communication. With a co-worker, be direct, clear, and cooperative. With a superior, be respectful of their position and their time. Address their requests quickly and concisely. Be appropriate and reasonable with your own requests. When addressing a customer’s or client’s concerns, listen carefully and considerately, apologize if necessary (and sometimes even if it’s not) and offer a reasonable solution that’s within your power.
- Use texting effectively
Today, texting is often used as a communication tool for business. Texting can be especially effective when a quick question or answer is required without further explanation or follow up, such as “What time is the meeting?” However, don’t text when it cannot effectively communicate your message or when it’s inappropriate.
- Make the most of meetings
We’re all familiar with unproductive and unnecessary meetings. Make sure meetings have an agenda and that it’s followed to avoid an unnecessary follow-up meeting. Keep meetings punctual and limited to the agenda topics. Ensure that the right people are involved to avoid wasting time and effort.
- Keep things positive
Nobody likes a whiner and negative talk is unproductive. Even if you have negative information or criticism to convey, keep the tone as positive as possible and end on a positive note. If you’re on the receiving end of negative information, think before you respond and try to respond in a positive way that can result in something beneficial instead of more negativity.
By keeping these ten communications tips in mind on your next temporary staffing assignment or full-time job you’ll be a better communicator and a better employee.