5 ways to communicate effectively at work
Want to make the right impression at your workplace? Watch out for these five areas of communication. Illustrations by Uttam Ghosh
What is and is not appropriate behaviour at work is best defined by your immediate bosses and superiors.
In corporate culture, celebrating a birthday with balloons or streamers may be frowned upon, while in other places, opening a bottle of wine is not amiss.
One must keep a keen eye on the trends set by the upper management while still being individualistic.
1. Dress Code
There are some corporate companies that have a strict dress code and enforce long sleeved collared shirts and dark pants or long skirts for employees.
In such cases, it is relatively easy to follow the beehive trend.
Problems generally occur in workplaces that may have casual work styles where one is free to wear what one likes. The 'smart casual' look is still the benchmark to strive for.
Don't wear flip flops and t-shirts on a daily basis; your appearance counts for a lot in making a good impression. A sharp appearance shows confidence and self-esteem, and will certainly reflect well on your appraisals in future years.
Women should note that while it is fine to wear smart western clothing, in a traditional country like ours, skimpy clothing is a no-no.
Opt for tailored and well fitted clothing that looks good!Courtesy:YouthIncMag.com
2. Networking or Faffing?
Escapism is just and necessary in short doses, especially in creative fields. Facebook and Twitter are important elements of any marketing or networking field.
In our digitally connected world with social media options on phones and computers, it is a little too easy to lose track of time and portray the wrong impression.
Playing online games is generally acceptable if they last about 5-10 mins about once in a day are a breather from intensive work.
It can build your focus and re-energise your mind. Self discipline is usually the issue in such cases; before you know it, you may be spending hours exchanging chickens on your farm at Farmville.
Just remember that counting your chickens can lead to an embarrassing situation with egg on your face!
3. Voice Modulation
Your tone of voice and accent is important while working.
Remember to be courteous and to say 'Please' and 'Thank you' wherever possible.
Don't use abusive language even if it is commonly used by seniors as it may be misinterpreted or taken out of context. Err on the side of caution!
When things are not going smoothly, it is all the more important to keep your cool and be calm.
If someone raises their voice at you, reply in a calm, even-toned voice. If it continues, you can politely ask them to please lower their voice and maintain a professional demeanour. The same goes for those having fun -- make sure that you do not disturb others with raucous laughter while taking a time-out.
Finally, speaking on the phone with your friends or family should be done in a quiet area away from co-workers. Chattering endlessly on the phone while at work will never reflect well on you!
BMMers should also beware; other than text-cramps in your fingers, constant messaging can cause harm to your career too!
4. E-mail and IM
Always write e-mails in complete words and sentences while sending an e-mail to colleagues or acquaintances, no matter how frivolous or urgent the task may be.
Senior managers need to shoot of hundreds of mails each day, requiring speed, complex processing skills and excellent communication.
Large companies even test the speed with which one can write a formal letter while hiring employees.
The same holds true for organisations that use instant messenger for communicating with each other.
Don't use shortcuts and acronyms that you may use informally with your friends; write in complete words with punctuation.
5. Body Language
According to communications expert John Borg, over 93 per cent of human communication takes place non-verbally.
Take some cues from our Neanderthal ancestors who communicated in grunts and gestures rather than words; the way you say something is far more important that the content of what is said.
Eye-movement, facial expressions, body posture and gestures play subtle but important roles in establishing trust and facilitating communication.
The best body language should show that you are smart and alert with a straight back and neck. Slouching is never a good thing, especially so when at work.
Also, ensure that you do not invade someone else's space, make defensive or aggressive gestures, and that your emotions are under control.
Understand how to interpret body language by buying a book on the subject.
Reading body language can help you understand behavioural and cues maintain personal and professional relationships.