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Communicating—With Peers

A well-informed employee is the best sales person a company can have.
E. J. THOMAS

Teamwork is really important in the workplace. Working co-operatively for the benefit of the customers is the purpose of your job. You will enjoy your job much more if the atmosphere is collaborative and positive. This will depend largely on how people communicate with each other. Be the role model, and use these principles to improve communication with and among your peers:

  1. Become a better receiver of information and facilitate upward communication. Employees need to feel they have a chance to influence what goes on in your organization. Use these communication principles with both peers and subordinates to encourage a free exchange of ideas.

  2. Encourage opinions from other people. Listen to all ideas before formulating your own.

  3. Show your peers that you respect their ideas by encouraging them to contribute and listening to what they have to say.

  4. If you are at all confused about an idea being presented, try repeating it in your own words. This will not only clarify your understanding, but will also show you are interested.

  5. Really listen to your colleagues — don't just wait to jump in with your own ideas. Listen to their words, thoughts, and feelings.

  6. Ask for opinions from both peers and subordinates. This makes them feel that their contributions are valued, and will give them a greater sense of commitment.

  7. Support your colleagues' ideas even when they differ from your own. You will be rewarded when you need support for your ideas.

  8. Express your ideas in plain language. Confusing people with big words or jargon is not going to get your message across.

  9. Use words carefully. Your listeners may react negatively to words that you thought were neutral. For example, using "you" when attributing blame will put associates on the defensive. Using "I" will build interest in your feedback. For example, "I am concerned" is preferable to "you did."

  10. If you have to communicate bad news, do so privately. An informal one-on-one meeting will soften the blow, give your colleague an opportunity to express her feelings, and open the way to solving problems.

  11. Be aware of how you communicate. Avoid alienating your colleagues by

    • preaching (you are implying they are less morally responsible than you);

    • patronizing (you are treating them like children);

    • scolding (you are putting them down);

    • being negative (you are always looking for the flaws).

  12. Focus on the problem, not the person. Take a neutral approach to new ideas, then, after you have judged them, point out their positive aspects first. You want to encourage your colleagues to keep on thinking and contributing.

  13. Act positively towards new ideas. Smile and show interest as they are being presented.

  14. Don't use criticism of your boss as a way to win over your colleagues — you will be demonstrating that you can't be trusted when people's backs are turned.

  15. If you don't agree with your boss's directions to others, keep it to yourself. Express your concerns to your boss, not to your colleagues.

  16. If your fellow workers are angry with you,

    • avoid arguments — they make things worse;

    • listen to their concerns — they will feel better after venting their frustrations;

    • acknowledge their right to feel angry;

    • get their ideas on how to solve the problem.


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