Can’t stand talking to your coworkers? This is key to getting through it

Let’s face it, communicating with coworkers was always exhausting, but now add in Zoom meetings, IMs, and little to no face-to-face communication, and it’s a whole new ball game.

If you couldn’t read your co-worker’s expressions in person, how can you communicate virtually with ease?

I get it. Communicating via computers can get misconstrued. You read into emails, or speed read IMs too fast and get the wrong idea.

It’s all exhausting, but here’s how you can improve your communication with your co-workers.

1. Talk to your co-worker’s face, not his/her email

Email is so much easier, right? You shoot out your message and don’t have to have a conversation. How can it get better than that? 

It can because email isn’t effective. If anything, it’s hurting your communication with your co-workers. Without facial gestures, tone of voice, and gestures, it’s easy to read thoughts or words into an email that aren’t there. 

As much as you can, have face-to-face conversations, even if that means screen-to-screen today.

2. Pay attention to your non-verbal cues

When you talk to coworkers in person (or on-screen), be aware of your non-verbal cues. Your words may say that you agree with something or you like what your co-worker is saying, but your body language and face may say something else.

Instead, when you’re talking to your co-workers, make sure your words and facial expressions match. Sometimes people get more out of your non-verbal cues than the words you say, so be aware of how you carry yourself.

3. Repeat what your co-worker said

When you have a conversation with your co-worker, repeat what they said to you to confirm you understood. This is especially important if you’re working on a project together or making decisions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions too. If you didn’t quite understand or you don’t remember, ask!

Sure it may feel embarrassing to say, ‘gosh,’ I don’t remember what you said,’ but isn’t that better than guessing what it was they said and getting it wrong?

4. Skip politics and religion (or anything controversial)

There are certain things you just don’t talk about at work, among them politics and religion. Today you may even want to skip talking about current news. It’s too fresh, raw, and emotional for many people.

Keep the work conversations about working topics or general life topics, but nothing too heavy.

It’s exhausting to try to prove your point or argue with others. Don’t risk your relationship with your coworkers talking about topics that don’t belong at work.

5. Focus on the positive

After the year we’ve all had, it’s easy to focus on the negatives, but what good does it do? Instead, focus on the positives, especially when it comes to dealing with your co-workers.

Rather than talking about what they did wrong, why not offer positive feedback? Even if it’s something like ‘I like your shirt’ or ‘thanks for your hard work on that project,’ it’s something to put them in the right frame of mind and ease the tension at the office.

You may not have to change a whole lot about how you communicate. Just a few tweaks and watch your relationships with your co-workers change. It may even put your job in a whole new light.