4 Ways Not to Communicate with Co-Workers and Other Business Associates


There's a hidden cost to having a workplace where employees don't feel valued or welcome. Even during dire hiring markets such as these, employees are more likely to leave and want higher compensation for staying at a place with an unpleasant or abusive atmosphere. That means that a brilliant manager with a short temper and a tendency to berate isn't just an office fixture to shrug off. In fact, he or she may be single-handedly driving up costs.

Whole communications courses can and have been designed for effective workplace communication. But if you just want the highlights, here are four things not to do:

  1. Don't focus on problems and negatives or use negative language. Instead of saying "Your design is terrible," try "Let's discuss ways to improve this design." Or "The project failed," try "Let's see what we can do to ensure that the next project succeeds."
  2. Don't be vague. "There's a problem with your report," or "I don't think you understood what I wanted" doesn't illuminate the problem or provide a way for the employee to improve. Try to organize your workplace communication more along the lines of "I wanted to see five to 10 pages of analysis on this topic, not background. Could you revise with that in mind?"
  3. Don't assume that you're writing to a computer screen. Even in an environment where most interaction takes place via  email or instant message , a person is on the receiving end of your communication, unless your company works on very advanced artificial intelligence! Written communication insulates you from seeing the immediate emotional impact of your words, but that impact is still real and can affect future interactions.
  4. Don't use offensive language. This doesn't just mean profanity. Avoid accusatory and insulting terms like "screwed up" and "blew it" as well.

Managing the tone of your workplace communication can help foster a productive work environment and keep employees around. To learn more about communicating effectively in the workplace, contact us at Hurley Write, Inc.

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