Top 5 Ways to Improve Practice Communication

In last week’s post, I discussed the impact that gossip can have on practices. To help you alleviate this problem, I am providing some ideas that will help you facilitate communication within the office so employees feel comfortable speaking to each other as issues arise.

Here are the top five tips anyone can use to improve their professional (and even personal) communication:

  1. Drop sentences that start with “you” (such as “you make me feel angry”). When you phrase sentences in this way, it sounds like an accusation, making the other person immediately defensive. Think of it this way—it’s more effective to confront issues with people than people with issues. By starting your sentences with “I,” as in, “I feel upset when [fill in the blank happens>,” you are starting a conversation instead of a confrontation.

  2. The axiom of life is that if you want to be heard, you have to listen first. When addressing a problem, show that you’re in tune with the other person. Listen to their concerns, and show them you want to work together to address the issue.

  3. Show that you have empathy for the other person by thinking about how you would react in his or her situation. This doesn’t mean that you have experience with what the other person is dealing with, but that you respect his or her opinion.

  4. Don’t say “I understand”—it annoys people. Instead, try these sentence starters:
    • “I agree”

    • “I respect”

    • “I admire”

    • “I appreciate”

This demonstrates to the other person that you are listening, without seeming patronizing or condescending.

5. When you bring up a complaint, be sure to come with a request—this gives the other person room to negotiate. For example, you could say “I respect that you get busy with other tasks and don’t always have time to get back to me right away. Could you please let me know how I can remind you without interrupting your work?” This shows that you are taking the other person’s situation into account, but also making them an owner of the problem; opening up the door to successful communication.

Have you tried any of these tips in your workplace communication? Let’s discuss your experiences below.

About Joan Garbo

Joan Garbo is a national consultant, trainer and public speaker who has been helping professionals optimize their workplace communication and relationships since 1978. Her specialties include coaching and training business owners and employees on effective team-building, communication skills and customer service.

Ms. Garbo has a Masters degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Virginia, and is an active member of the National Speakers Association. For information on office consults, executive coaching or speaker presentations, call or write to:

Joan Garbo, Joan Garbo Consultants
19 Glen Ln., Copiague NY 11726 • 631-608-2979
website: email:

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