Vollrath Associates


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Five Ways to Improve Internal Communication

June 20, 2013

As business professionals, we can get caught up with how advanced we think we are at communication. We spend our days expertly executing the latest strategies for our clients and customers. Yet, this excess of external communication can lead to a lack of communication within our own offices. In the midst of busy days and communication overload, we forget to listen to each other. Think back on the past week. Was there a time you could have listened better? Probably. Follow these five strategies and improve your listening.


1. Focus on each conversation with the goal of learning something. When you’re having a conversation with an employee or a co-worker, tune out distractions. Set down the phone, close the email and stop thinking about what you’re going to say or do next. Instead, focus on the thoughts and ideas being shared. When a client talks, you give them your full attention. Do the same for those you work with. Mastered this concept? Take it a step further and mentally note key points to take away from the conversation. There is always something new you can learn.


2. Pay attention to your body language. Eye contact, proper posture, nodding. All of these nonverbal actions show that we are listening. Encourage your co-workers to keep sharing with you by reinforcing positive verbal message with positive body language.


3. Summarize. Make sure you understand. Ask questions for clarification and to nail down specific details from the conversation. Remember, you are trying to learn something (Tip #1), so take time to ensure you are getting the right message. If questions aren’t doing the trick, try summarizing. True communication only occurs when an exchange results in shared meaning.


4. Act on input. If you’re asking for an employee or a co-worker’s ideas and opinions, be prepared to consider and to implement them. Listening and acting based on conversations shows a true understanding of the other person’s ideas and encourages sharing in the future.


5. Practice often. Just like any other skill, listening takes practice to make perfect. Make a conscious effort to exercise these listening tips in your daily interactions. You’ll be amazed to see how much better you understand your peers!


With these five strategies, you can transform your listening skills and improve the ever-important internal communication.


Some concepts from this article were taken from David Grossman’s article “Making smart decisions: How to listen so your employees talk” in the May 2013 Public Relations Tactics.