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Silence is Golden, Sometimes.

On13/ 09 /18
No matter which industry you are in, excellent communication is key to success in the work place. 

By communicating well you can significantly improve client relationships, mitigate conflict, raise profitability, team effectiveness and, most importantly, build your own professional image.  

At Bucks and Berks, we have put together a comprehensive guide on when to talk and when to listen at work to help you hit your career goals more efficiently. 

Why is effective communication important?

Communication can make or break a company. It is the process of exchanging information and ideas that can support a business’s growth, but if handled inappropriately it can lead to communication gaps between employees that can cause confusion and reduce performance.  

Great leaders listen more and talk less.

 Don’t get us wrong – we love having the freedom to speak up whenever we want. But when it comes to dealing with workplace communication, is continuously talking always better than listening? 

The answer is – not really. Although many people, especially newcomers, think that being over-chatty at work is a key to getting recognised we must disappoint you. 

Conversation is not a competitive sport. Nobody really cares if you speak the longest or the loudest, or if you have the most intelligent point – on the contrary, listening is half of a fruitful conversation, especially if it’s active. 

Active listening means taking part in the conversation by gaining information and perspective. It also helps with building relationships, solving problems and improving accuracy. Moreover, good listening means fewer errors and less wasted time, which is crucial for any type of business. 

You should be listening when…

•    You are a leader, and your task is to inspire and motivate others
•    You are facing a difficult situation such as a challenging meeting 
•    You are facing a workplace disagreement 
•    You are looking for some feedback 

Is listening the key to success?

If you would like to improve your professional image, try to listen more. Remember that whether in social or work environments, people don’t just want to be heard – but truly listened to. 

When it comes to handling business, make sure you pay attention. This is especially true for formal situations such as meetings that require courtesy and, most importantly, a positive outcome.

While attending a meeting, listen carefully and make notes. Show that you are concentrating and absorbing what someone else is saying to you by keeping eye contact and reinforcing responses. 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, but remember to keep them short and straight-to-the-point to avoid sharing general clichés that result in nothing but wasted time. If you need clarification, be open about this as this is a visible and genuine sign that you are really listening and trying to understand. 

When to talk? 

While listening contributes towards successful workplace communication, being willing and able to freely share your opinion and views is also crucial. To ensure you and your staff remain happy and healthy at work it is also important to sensitively discuss specific topics as soon as they occur, including: 

•    Mental health problems
•    Work-related stress
•    Work-life balance
•    Invisible illness 

The benefits of small talk

Nowadays, workplaces are adapting to a new culture – one that is focused on collaboration, perks and establishing meaningful connections between the employees that go beyond the scope of actual work. 

The McKinsey Global Institute found that productivity improves by 20-25% in an organisation with connected employees. But how could you discover how much you and your co-workers have in common if you are not talking to them?

And this is when small talk comes into play – a skill that can significantly help with developing stronger relationships and can even help you gain access to new job opportunities. 

When it comes to having small talk in the office, it’s a good idea to avoid certain topics. For example, mentioning a piece of office gossip might help with sparking a conversation, but could have a lasting adverse effect on your professional reputation.  

To make your small talk successful, you should be looking into finding common ground with your co-worker. Think about topics that everyone likes to talk about – for example, your dream holiday destination. If you want to keep the conversation strictly professional, ask about some advice or tips for the upcoming project – at the end of the day, everyone loves to talk about themselves and to showcase their knowledge. 

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