Truth be told – workplace communication is one of the most critical issues that many companies find themselves facing. And whether you’re an employee, a manager or CEO, or someone working independently as an entrepreneur at a coworking space – at the heart of professional success lies good office communication.

While improving workplace communication may seem like a daunting task at first, it’s not impossible to nurture an environment where open, two-way communication is encouraged and there’s a prevailing sense of team spirit.

Here are 5 tips to improve workplace communication:

1. Give the speaker your undivided attention

Goes without saying, right? But how many of us actually make a proactive effort to do this? And it doesn’t matter whether you’re brainstorming ideas in a group meeting or on the floor of a coworking space networking with someone – offering your complete and undivided attention to the other person will drastically improve how they perceive you.

Here’s a quick example of not giving somebody your undivided attention: fidgeting with your hair, glancing at the clock or checking your smartphone. This lack of focus really ‘devalues’ the conversation and causes people to tune you out altogether.

2. Be a good listener – a really good listener

Ever wondered what the difference is between just listening and ‘actively’ listening? We all hear so many things on a daily basis, but how many of those things to we actually pay attention to?

The more actively you listen, the better the communication will be – and you will see all the right responses from the other person, with the result that the conversation starts to move forward.

Before responding, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you have heard, digested and interpreted everything correctly. And when it comes to responding, resist the urge to monopolise the conversation unless you want to get tuned out completely. Also, avoid any fillers or buffers – just get right to the point and be direct – with strategic pauses to indicate more importance to certain parts of your message.

3. Use the power of body language

If lately, you feel that you’ve been having trouble trying to explain something, particularly subjects that are complicated to discuss, try practicing on your own in front of a mirror.

Face to face with yourself, practice with a few facial expressions and gestures to get your point across. There’s actually a great deal of research on what certain gestures mean and how to use them to your advantage during a conversation. Time to put your research glasses on and log on to YouTube!

4. R-e-s-p-e-c-t

This is probably one of the key fundamentals of good communication. So make eye contact and use the person’s name when you speak. Be human, you know?

Don’t doodle, don’t use your phone, don’t check your watch – it’s completely unnecessary and very counter-productive.

5. Stay positive

Work can be stressful – it is for everyone. However, keep the conversation positive and never make it personal. Put the needs of others before yours and always be the first to extend professional courtesy.