At various stages in our life we have had to negotiate our way into getting things done and surprisingly enough, this is a skill we’ve mastered growing up! Remember leaving secret notes for our parents or trying to negotiate a late night out with dad – we always knew who the go to person was!

However, we walk into adulthood as experienced negotiators, but not necessarily good at the game. Mostly because we end up repeating the same strategies we used as kids, and naturally, ‘childlike’ tactics don’t necessarily get us what we want.

This week, we look at two key effective workplace communication strategies.

Practice Active Listening

Trying to convince someone is not about talking more, but to listen and listen actively. If you’re trying to frame your response in your head while the other person is still talking, you’re not really listening

– but to mildly put it, simply trying to shut the other down with your seemingly smart response. Active listening takes effort, to bring your focus to the conversation and pay attention to what is being said. Understand the other perspective, even though yours is not being understood or acknowledged. Tip! Every time you see yourself going into your head, trying to frame a response – pause and get back to listening. Try and understand that person’s position and identify areas that you can contribute to. This is especially helpful if your role involves dealing with people a lot.

Pick the right tool

This is such an important and often overlooked aspect of communication! Take an example – if you know your friend or colleague is not someone who prefers discourse over texts, using that tool with that person will further aggravate the situation and make an already difficult conversation tough. Similarly, in a workplace setting, we often see emails being shared, sometimes out of anger even, copying in managers and people who’d only add to the grapevine. Not only is this being escalated, this is being perceived very differently by the recipients. On a more practical level, even the tone in your head reading the email can lead to interpreting that email very differently. Say someone has sent a seemingly neutral email, but you have preconceptions about what that person means – naturally when reading that email, your judgement is colored and already biased. Tip! If you truly want to have an effective conversation, especially in situations where your instinct is to vent, take a moment to reflect on what you truly want out of that situation. In most cases, it is conflict resolution. Then, make an objective assessment of the person you intend to resolve conflict with and then pick the appropriate tool. Keep your intentions clear.

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