|Communication Among Coworkers
As our lives become more hectic, we need to become more efficient in our activities. Too
many professionals are wasting countless hours re-communicating and redoing tasks that
were poorly communicated.
Most of us practice communicating clearly and concisely with our superiors and employees.
However, few of us are in the habit of showing the same consideration to our coworkers.
The following tips can be applied to all types of communication. However, the focus is on
improving communication skills in situations with coworkers with whom there is no direct
As much as employers might want to eliminate it, conversations at the proverbial water
cooler are not going to cease. Even voice mail and e-mail have been known for expressing
information not directly relating to our jobs. In business today we need to use these
opportunities to our advantage.
No matter who the other party is, they have what we need INFORMATION. Their
information provides us with insight into other situations occurring in our companies.
What might be considered useless chatter to some professionals, could be valuable
information for the rest of us.
If you are aware of a persons positive or negative feelings about something, you can
rely on that information to either enhance future conversations or reposition yourself
during awkward situations. Therefore, your congratulations to a golf-loving coworker,
"Carla, I heard you shot a hole in one in Thursdays meeting."
will be even more appreciated. Likewise, "Joe, remember when you had to leave that
meeting early for your daughters softball game, but she had forgotten to tell you it
was canceled? I felt the same way when I found out you werent able to attend this
mornings meeting" will help build a bridge with an associate during the bad
times. Make it a goal to learn at least one thing, in each conversation, about what that
person does or feels about something.
The art of persuasion becomes particularly important when you are dealing with a coworker.
Suddenly your power as a boss doesnt figure into getting someone to do their job.
Instead, your efforts at encouraging coworkers to do their share may be considered
presumptuous. Particularly if your teammate does not have the same expectations of the
amount of time and the quality of the work that is to be done. During these times, your
only viable strategy is to persuade the coworker into agreement.
To do this, you first have to respect the coworker enough to view the situation from their
perspective. What is it that is motivating their performance? What other activities
require their time? Do you have the same understanding of what needs to be done? Of when
it needs to be done? Of how it should be done? Of how important this activity is to the
company as a whole?
Some questions that are even more important: What is that persons perspective
regarding your role in this project? What is their special knowledge theyll apply to
this project? Have you communicated to them that you understand the value they bring to
Once youve thought through these questions, youll want to act appropriately
depending on that coworkers perspective. Your goal is to clearly identify your
expectations and needs, while asking for verification of their expectations and needs
regarding this task. Then, you can reach agreement on how any discrepancies that may be
identified will be resolved.
You can do this by implementing the standard sales techniques of: Relationship Building,
Querying for Needs, Matching Activities to Perceived Needs, Confirming the Value of these
activities and finally "Closing the Sale". In this case, closing may consist of
efficiently accomplishing the tasks at hand.
Since youll theoretically be working with these same coworkers on various projects
at the same time, you might be at different stages of this process at once. Also, to build
a cooperative working relationship, its imperative that you continuously go through these
steps to make sure youre on track and that yesterdays misunderstandings
dont interfere with todays projects.
PLANNING YOUR COMMUNICATIONS
Naturally, this will require some planning. You are probably used to planning individual
projects and large projects. But, too often, communications between coworkers are not
planned at all. Problems youve encountered with coworkers could be attributed to
poorly planned attempts that have fallen victim to poor communication.
Before each task-oriented conversation with your coworkers, plan what needs to be
communicated by you, what needs to be communicated to you and how youll accomplish
this. Notifying the other party that youre attempting to take their viewpoint will
usually put that person at ease and will encourage their cooperation. Theyll be more
willing to share their goals and concerns regarding that project.
Lastly, its important to highlight each employees responsibility to effectively
communicate. Regardless of your position within a company, its your responsibility to your
employer to communicate what needs to be communicated. Its just as frustrating when a
clerk doesnt take a clear phone message, as it is when a vice president doesnt
notify her division that a policy has changed. Therefore, we need to demand each employee
to ask the right questions and make sure the right information is used.
Your performance will be measured on the overall quality of your activities. Therefore,
encourage your coworkers to advise you of information youll need to know, or of
improvements you and your staff can make. Likewise, you need to take responsibility for
conveying beneficial information to other people within your company.
Just as the adage, "Its not my job" has been a prime indication of an
uncooperative employee, expressing that "Nobody told me that" is becoming the
trademark of an employee you cant afford to have on your team. Set the example in
your organization by rewarding others that show the consideration of asking, telling, and
whenever its appropriate, insisting on the correct information.