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Successful communication involves talking to your team in a way that conveys what they need to know without ambiguity. Whether it's through text, in a Zoom call, or face-to-face, effective communication can save your team time and money.

1. Choose a Communication Tool That Works for Your Team

Email and face-to-face conversations are probably the most cost-effective and practical forms of communication. However, with the changing workplace dynamics and more businesses choosing to work remotely, it's more important than ever to have a communication tool that will help your staff stay connected.

To start, think about whether you'll need real-time communication tools, asynchronous solutions, or both. You should also consider other workflow solutions that would improve your teams productivity and performance. Taskworld's team communications solutions include project chats, email, at mentions and private messaging tools.

2. Be Clear About Tasks so Your Team Knows What to Do

Clarity is key when communicating in person or via text. This means avoiding jargon or vague language to help the listeners understand what you're saying and what their next steps should be. Here are some points to help you communicate with greater clarity:

First, keep it simple and use language your team is familiar with. The less room for interpretation you leave, the less likely you'll be to miscommunicate.

Next, be specific and pay attention to non-verbal responses from your team. If your team looks confused, try rephrasing it.

Finally, give yourself space to think. When you're too quick to speak, slips, harsh words and miscommunication is more prone to happen. On the contrary, you can actually allow yourself time to process what your team has said, so you can articulate your thoughts and communicate them with greater clarity.

Quick example: Say you're a marketing project manager, and you have a junior marketer on your team. Do you think they would benefit more from a task title, or a clear task title and description?

Clearly the latter -- take the time to be clear so you can save time and resources later!

3. Become a Better Listener

At the core of improved communication, is the art of listening. When you place a greater value on active listening, you and your team can come away from conversations and meetings with greater clarity of what is expected.

Chris Do, the founder of The Futur, defines active listening this way, "Active listening means cultivating the patience to put your desire to respond on the back burner." In a blog post, he discusses three traits that can help individuals and teams improve their listening skills:

  • Patience – Instead of thinking about your response or skimming through an email, pause and wait for the person to finish their thought without interrupting them. When reading emails or text messages, avoid skimming through the text and take the time to read the message making note of any key details and areas that are unclear

  • Confidence – To listen attentively, it's crucial to shelve your thoughts and any distractions to focus on the speaker and absorb what they're saying. "Active listening requires confidence. It means turning off your own thoughts to leave space for what they’re saying," writes Do.

  • Presence – Being present at the moment and shutting off distractions can help you identify what they're saying, find words or areas that need clarification, and asking better questions so that you have the necessary information to respond or take action.

4. Don't Assume You Know What Someone Means

A common cause of miscommunication happens when you assume that you know what someone is trying to communicate, you can miss crucial details. For example, after reading or listening to a project brief, a best practice is to ask clarifying questions to make sure both parties are on the same page and that both know exactly what successful outcomes will look like.

Adjectives and colloquial phrases in particular need clarification. A statement like "We need to hit this out of the park" might seem clear, but they are rather vague. Asking "What does that look like?" can help you develop a clear idea of what their expectations can be.

Another technique of asking for clarity is by summarizing what you've heard and asked if you're on the same page. This opens the door for your teammates to address confusion and miscommunication.

5. Set Clear Expectations for Email and Text Messaging

Having a clear email and messaging culture can help you and your team build communication habits that enable productivity and respect. For example, you could have a policy of responding to messages to acknowledge receipt.

Having a clear email and messaging culture can help you and your team build communication habits that enable productivity and respect. For example, you could have a policy of responding to messages to acknowledge receipt.

Expectations can also help in clarifying what respectful communications are and how your team can be sensitive to differences including race, gender, nationality, religion, and political views.

Having specific team leads can also elevate your team's communication because members will know who to contact if they have questions.

6. Be Open and Honest With Your Team

Trust and respect are cornerstones of building rapport. One way to foster better communication is to be transparent and honest with your team. Moreover, maintaining confidentiality where appropriate can build integrity and show your team that you're on their side and trustworthy.

7. Take Responsibility for Actions

Finally, admitting when you've been in the wrong can go a long way to building transparency and solidifying healthy relationships within your team.

Most team issues or unresolved issues from the past fall into one of two categories, speculation or blaming. They could be attempting to take the blame for another team member not performing, or they may simply blame the situation on the individual not going the ideal situation. Proper project management and workflow tools can create transparency thereby reducing speculation. When you have the data, and you lead by example, it's easier for your team to take responsibility.

Proper team communication take practice. These techniques may not come naturally to you, however, the more you practice effective communication skills in your everyday life, the more seamlessly you'll be able to integrate it into your team culture.