How To Communicate: Communication Skills At Work

When we communicate with customers and co-workers we have to manage an almost endless list of conflicting feelings – for example: Hope and Excitement… or perhaps Boredom and Irritation. And then we’re asked to do something impossible; to leave our feelings at home in the name of productivity and organizational goals.

A clear sign of our feelings being alive and well at work is when we are speaking with a co-worker or customer and they begin the conversation with “I need….“. The “I need….” language style often translates into feelings of “more for you – less for me” which rarely evokes a desire to be creative or helpful. Does the following chart feel familiar?

Nobody wants to work with someone who makes demands. And because our feelings are not being considered guess what happens… productivity goes down because we’re not as helpful, creative, and compassionate with our co-workers and customers as we would prefer to be. We’re too busy being guarded and protecting ourselves… and this takes a lot of time and energy which is expensive in lost productivity and lost innovation.

Instead, if we considered and respected each others feelings we would all give 110% (or more), and our projects would be more likely to:

  • Succeed
  • Develop increased trust and respect
  • Create greater communication harmony
  • Be accomplished quickly and with greater creativity
  • Have fewer errors – which saves time and money

Transform Our Conversations

How do we unlearn our current habits? Lets start by learning a few new behaviours so that we can transition our conversations into positive, supportive experiences with customers and co-workers.The first step is a really easy solution that still honours and respects organizational goals.

  1. Take the opportunity to establish mutually beneficial goals.  Wow – could it be that easy?
  2. Show respect by asking people to participate – don’t take their time and effort for granted. Take a cooperative approach to our conversations / negotiations. We have to retire our (likely learned behavior), to use aggression to get what we want.
  3. Consider our customers and co-workers points of view and respect their feelings and experience.
  4. Describe in as much detail as we can our desired outcome – what will the end product look like? Include “What’s in it for them” (if possible) as well as “What’s in it for you“. This will:
    • Reduce misunderstandings
    • Establish partnerships
    • Show our communication partner how they can participate
  5. Use language that’s in line with their own knowledge. Never talk over someone, make them feel foolish or inadequate.

Imagine two people pushing against each other vs. working together. We can accomplish so much more when we work together.

When we respect our co-workers and customers they will respect us back – and cooperate more.


Learn to listen – really listen. This helps us find solutions that meet more of everyone’s needs.

One step to be a better listener means we validate what we think we hear instead of using our own knowledge and experiences to jump to conclusions about what our partner is saying (and what is needed to solve it). By turning off our ‘communication filters‘ communication becomes easier and more accurate.

When we listen we learn what’s important to each of us. We also:

  • Get clarity about our next steps
  • Inspire each other
  • Are able to collaborate on projects


Find out what others feel / want. Listening and asking a few open-ended questions can go a long way.

In the short-term, cooperative communication may take more effort to get what we want and when work get busy we might forget to use some of the skills we’re practicing. Don’t worry – keep practicing. In the long-term forceful behaviour damages our reputation and the willingness of people to support us. Who wants to help a bully? Nobody.

Change takes time and practice. This is one area where you will immediately start to see progress – and that progress will continue to develop the more you focus on open, cooperative communication. Do this and you will build a reputation as a great communicator.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

One Response to How To Communicate: Communication Skills At Work

  1. Wow–I noticed at first upon receiving yet another email that I felt ‘taken advantage of’ (flash insight)..however chose to feel ‘generous’ (to myself, to the writer) and began to read. I love this compare and contrast method–it’s so true–and very helpful. Thank you Bruce for yet another helpful blog.

I’ll enjoy reading your thoughts and your experiences.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: