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Team Communication Strategies

by Kristine Tucker

Productivity in the workplace often depends on a coworker's ability to communicate effectively with other team members. Without solid communication strategies, some members might feel uninvolved or isolated, while others might feel as if they're carrying all the weight. A unified team with well-informed coworkers is likely to complete projects in a timely manner and satisfy productivity goals.

Be Direct

Direct dialogue and straightforward electronic messages are effective communication strategies when dealing with workplace team members. You can't assume that coworkers will be able to decipher unclear directives or automatically understand what's expected of them. According to an article in "Forbes," communications expert Karen Friedman says it's necessary to be as forward, concise and clear-cut as possible when addressing coworkers and team-centered work responsibilities. Vague e-mails and ambiguous conversations don't get the job done.

Don't Blame Team Members

Avoid playing the "blame game" if you want to incorporate healthy communication strategies into your workplace. Coworkers will likely pull away and disengage from projects if they feel that they receive blame and criticism every time there's a problem. It's completely acceptable to require accountability from team members, but you can do that with kindness and consideration, rather than accusations. According to Communication Studies professor Douglas Kelley, Ph.D. at Arizona State University, a supportive communication strategy asks team members to work together to find acceptable solutions.

Maintain Unselfish Attitudes

Refusing to promote a personal or a selfish agenda is a positive communication strategy. Friedman encourages team members to take a non-egotistical approach to communication by listening to other viewpoints and ideas. Even if you think you have the best plan for addressing a project or client, it doesn't hurt to listen to other suggestions. A team member might mention something you didn't think of or might come up with a completely new solution to a problem. Unselfish attitudes lead to satisfying, team-centered projects and goals.

Avoid Defensive Remarks

An effective communication strategy is to affirm coworkers and discourage defensive comments. Professor Kelley suggests avoiding comments such as, "Do whatever you want," or "That's not the way we do things," or "You can waste your time if you want to." Defensive remarks border on sarcasm and apathy, and often lead to hurt feelings, communication barriers and the destruction of healthy team-centered interactions. Positive language, affirmation and courtesy make for a more collaborative environment. If you must correct a team member for her negligence or misconduct, constructive criticism is more beneficial than defensive comments. And remember, "Criticize in private, praise in public."

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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