Effective strategies to build stronger relationships
Ever find yourself standing across from someone, arms crossed in frustration, asking yourself: Why can’t he just understand what I’m saying? Is she paying attention? Am I not being clear? Miscommunication is inevitable, especially in the workplace. Conflicts arise because people often misinterpret what their bosses or colleagues are really trying to say.
Good communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship, which is why it’s important to strengthen your skills. Here are strategies proven to be most effective when it comes to workplace communication:
First, make sure your emotions are under control and you have an open-mind going into the conversation.
Imagine this scenario: You spend weeks preparing for a presentation and during the meeting your colleague takes all the credit for your work. You become filled with anger and disbelief, and it takes everything in you not to have an emotional outburst.
Before you confront your colleague, it’s important to make sure your emotions are under control so you can remain levelheaded and effectively convey your thoughts and feelings.
“Most of us know what the energy of our words ‘feels’ like, yet we continue to use our words like a weapon,” says Kathy Caprino, international career and personal success coach. “Be careful with every single word – choose carefully, and breathe deeply to calm yourself when you speak, so you can make your point […] Once you say something hurtful, it can’t ever be taken back.”
If you go into the conversation in attack mode, the other person will immediately be put on the defensive and be less receptive to your point of view. When it comes to managing conflict, it’s about sincerely listening to the other person and putting your ego aside, with the main goal being to resolve the conflict—not to win or lose.
“Through being ‘right,’ you feel superior and through feeling superior you strengthen your sense of self. In reality, of course, you are only strengthening the illusion of ego.” –Eckhart Tolle
Another important communication strategy is to switch on your empathetic brain.
As human beings, we all experience similar emotions: joy, sadness, loss, fear, loneliness, and so on. The key to building strong connections with others is being empathetic and being able to put yourself in their shoes. That means listening without judgment or criticism, in a way that allows you to relate to that common feeling or human experience.
“Verbalizing empathy allows the people in our lives to feel heard, known, understood and connected to us,” says Psychotherapist Joyce Marter. “It can diffuse conflict as once people feel heard, they may not feel the need to become increasingly defensive or aggressive to get their message across.”
Let’s say your coworker get’s fired and vents to you about how upset she is. Even if you have never been fired before, you can respond in a way that shows you care and understand.
In this case, you can reply: “I am so sorry that happened. That’s completely understandable you’re upset.”
You are acknowledging and validating her feelings, which will strengthen the connection you share.
Lastly, know your audience.
Everyone has different communication styles, so you need to learn what works best for each member of your team. For instance, do you have a colleague who is slow to reply to emails? Rather than getting frustrated waiting for an answer, you can swing by his desk and talk face-to-face. Or maybe you have a colleague who is more of a hands-on learner, in which case, you have to show her how to do something rather than simply explaining it.
It’s also helpful to know your coworkers’ hobbies and interests outside of work. For example, if you know your boss’ son had a baseball game this past weekend, ask how it went. Or if your coworker got a new haircut, compliment her.
The key to good communication and building strong relationships is noticing the details.
Most importantly, remember “to effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”-Tony Robbins