One of the most valuable skills you can learn as a young professional is communication.
By communicating effectively, you can defuse misunderstandings with your boss, complaints from nightmare clients, and blowouts with co-workers—or avoid situations like these altogether.
Here are six techniques to help you communicate better as you advance your career. (As an added bonus, these can help you in every other area of your life too.)
1. Understand How Others Communicate
Sometimes, you create tension with coworkers simply because you don’t speak the same “language.”
For instance, if you’re working on a project, some people may want to know the backstory or rationale behind decisions you made; others might like your status reports quick and to the point—and get annoyed if you talk too long.
Pay attention to your manager and coworkers’ preferences. By recognizing their techniques, you can communicate with them in the same fashion, making things easier for both of you.
2. Ask For Clarification
We often think asking for clarification makes us look stupid. In reality, what makes you look incompetent is not asking for clarification—and then getting your task all wrong.
If you won’t ask questions, state the project back to the requestor instead. “Just to make sure I heard you right, you want me to …” So what if you’re slightly wrong? They’ll correct you; plus, you showed you were listening.
Otherwise, get over this fear. Doing so will help you better understand your tasks and allow you to provide the best possible service.
3. Be Clear And Concise
You want your managers and coworkers to be clear and concise with you, so you need to be clear and concise with them.
As an entrepreneur, I know how upfront clarity can help avoid misunderstandings and manage difficult clients. For instance, if you find yourself negotiating freelance rates, don’t just leave it open-ended and for the other party to interpret as they wish. Instead, drop a number.
That brings me to my next point …
4. Learn To Negotiate
In the workplace, negotiating isn’t just about dollars. Often, we must negotiate for time, tasks, and needs. For instance, you may need to persuade your company to help pay for your higher education. Or, maybe you don’t want a raise but instead would like more healthcare coverage.
Ultimately, we need good communication skills so we negotiate in a way that makes everyone happy. What’s the point of “winning” if you make your coworker your enemy? Speaking of which …
5. Don’t Take Things Personally
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating: Business is business. This means that you can’t take things personally in the workplace—simply because they most likely aren’t meant as a personal attack. Not everyone will act this way, but as a true professional, you should.
6. Be Assertive
Being assertive doesn’t mean bullying or hurting people’s feelings. Assertiveness means understanding your boundaries and knowing how to communicate when someone challenges them. You can be assertive while still being compassionate.
For instance, if a co-worker lashes out at you, don’t just sit there and take it. However, recognize the difference between being assertive (telling them it’s not cool and you’d like to be respected) and letting your emotions get in the way (getting into a screaming match with them).
What tricks have you learned for effectively communicating with your manager or coworker? Share them below.