Many people go to work each day unable to absorb all the events that occur. We often run on autopilot. Our first and only goal is to cover as much as possible and get through the day. It is no wonder our society is pressured for time, overstressed and exhausted.
One of the biggest issues we face is communication in the workplace. This can go two ways—positive or negative. Positive communication involves the ability to ask and/or answer questions, being aware of your surroundings, and making decisions based on factual information. It also involves remembering that action creates reaction, and your behavior in any given situation will bring about a response from those around you, whether good or bad.
The best way to avoid a negative outcome is to be well informed, factual and rational in your dealings with others. Do not allow emotion to prevail. When communicating with fellow staff members or customers, use positive reinforcement and make eye contact. This reassures the other person of your sincerity and confidence. Remember, communication cannot be reversed, but it can be rehearsed. Listeners tend to filter messages through perception. Your body language, tone of voice and words all play a role.
Unjustly criticizing someone, not listening to suggestions, using harsh language, dismissing someone’s needs, making sarcastic comments or forcing someone to think the way you do is not logical or professional. This will not gain respect or enhance productivity. Instead of reacting immediately to a difficult situation, take the time to sort through all of the information. Is it factual? Do you need more information before addressing the situation? Is it affecting you personally?
The key to giving and receiving communication without having information misconstrued is to train yourself to think before you speak. Select your words carefully. Be responsive, but do not react personally. Identify the issue and direct the conversation toward problem-solving.
One negative form of communication is gossip, which can be like poison to everyone involved. It is built on opinion, emotion and myth. Facts get manipulated. What usually results is deflated work performance, lack of productivity and low morale.
To create a positive work environment that dissuades gossip, it is important to have an open-door policy with employees. Set time frames and provide follow up and feedback. Plan conversations ahead when possible, and begin with the end result. Have a strict no-tolerance policy on gossip. Effective communication when instructing this policy will help prevent the spread of misinformation through the company.
Take ownership for your actions. People and situations cannot improve if problems are not identified and addressed. Do not attempt to give constructive criticism when you are stressed, angry or tired. Timing is everything. By demonstrating the work ethic you expect, you will be a role model for co-workers and employees.
Trina Van Alstine is the administrative support manager for Lyons Investment Properties LLC of Newport Beach, Calif. For more information, call 949.752.5000.