Every time someone mentions the word communication, I flashback to childhood and the wonderful game of telephone. You know what I’m talking about: Suzie tells Johnny that Max cheated on a test, and by the time it gets to Max, he learns that Suzie said he was being expelled from school for getting into a fight during class. Communication is the single most important trait a person can develop, not only for their professional career, but for the personal relationships as well. Developing and establishing effective communication habits doesn’t have to be burden and doesn’t truly require anything more than a desire to improve.

So, without further ado, here are 5 easy tips to improve your communication in the workplace:

(Bonus: these tips can be applied to your personal life, as well!)

  1. Stop Not Listening

Have you ever found yourself having a conversation with someone only to discover you’re more focused on what you’ll say next rather than what the other person is saying right now? It happens all the time, and it destroys effective communication. Make a conscious effort to hear what the other person is saying and you’ll soon be on your way to being an all-star communicator.

  1. Stop Over-Communicating

Almost as bad as not listening are the communicators who spew every minute detail into a conversation, or repeat the same facts and details over, and over, and over, and…you get the point. Redundancy in communication not only makes it more difficult for others to be active listeners, but it can insult one’s ability to remember information. Long story short – it’s counterproductive to effective communication.

  1. Stop Relying on One Channel

If you’re anything like me, then you spend double the time communicating via text, rather than picking up for telephone for a quick call. We’ve all fallen prey to this at one point or another, whether it’s an inability to adapt to text messages, phone calls or even email. Relying solely on one form of communication may work for some conversations, but not everyone communicates through the same channel. Understand that you will need to adapt your communication style to meet that of the person you are communicating with, and spend time making sure your master how to effectively communicate through each.

  1. Stop Being Too Vague

There’s nothing worse than receiving bad news, only to have it sugar coated to the point in which it’s no longer bad news…or is it? Often times, when managers deliver the ‘not-so-great’ messages to their teams, they fear how they’ll be perceived and thus they communicate in vague and open terms. This often leads to more questions than answers, frustration and, of course, ineffective communication. Be direct and, if at all possible, try to deliver bad news through face-to-face conversations.

  1. Stop Being Disrespectful

One of the quickest ways to ensure communication gets lost in mixed signals and frustration is to spend time being disrespectful of the person you are communicating with. Stop interrupting others as they speak, don’t insult them, be sure to use the person’s name, look them in their eye and, most importantly, listen (see tip one!)

Have more tips for effective communicating? Share them with us below!