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Five Ways to Use Positive Communication to Improve Teamwork

Improving positive communication will improve work relationships

Scott D. Hanton, PhD

Scott Hanton is the editorial director of Lab Manager. He spent 30 years as a research chemist, lab manager, and business leader at Air Products and Intertek. He earned...

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Developing effective communication skills is vital to delivering the role of lab manager. Good leaders are almost always good communicators. Lab managers must effectively receive and share information for the lab to deliver for its stakeholders. The most important communication skill is actually listening, as lab managers must obtain information from everyone in the lab to make effective decisions. Using positive communication techniques can greatly improve communication skills and help build stronger and healthier work relationships. 

Here are five tips to help improve positive communication in your lab:

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Use different types of communication effectively

There are four types of communication: verbal, written, nonverbal, and visual. People often worry most about the words selected for a specific message. However, the tone, style, and nonverbal cues carry most of how the message is received. It is very important that the words, tone, style, and body language all consistently convey the same message in an aligned and coherent manner. Using effective visuals to support the words can also make communicating complex information easier to comprehend.

Use active listening

Being an effective listener is crucial for obtaining insights, observations, ideas, and complaints from lab staff. Listening is the only way to get sufficient input to make good decisions. Some simple guidelines to improve active listening are to avoid interrupting, listen for the underlying meaning, encourage the speaker to keep going, and ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding. A helpful approach is to use your curiosity to listen to learn and to try to learn something from everyone.

Deliver effective messages

Being understood is the point of sharing messages. To be better understood, deliver your messages using the seven key elements of communication: clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous. Build specific messages that use the right number of words to deliver truthful, helpful, and consistent content to the right people. Taking the time to craft useful messages is a worthwhile investment.

Master the elements of positive communication

Bringing a more positive approach to communication will improve your relationships at work. Start by using greetings to initiate contact with others. Show staff that you recognize them as people, not just hands in the lab. Ask questions to discover more. Be curious and open to learning about others. When you see good things happening, use compliments to recognize individuals and teams. Be willing to disclose information about yourself. This vulnerability brings you closer to the people in the lab. Freely share your knowledge, experience, and expertise. Offer your help to support staff. Clearly listen to others, and listen to their perspectives to help manage differences.

Become a proactive communicator

Using proactive and positive communication will build more effective leadership skills. Positive leaders will take the time to initiate contact with people around the lab, welcome conversations about work and life, and create safe practices to invite discussions. Taking the lead in the lab’s communication will enable you to connect better with staff, deliver more praise and recognition, and support a growth mindset around the lab.

The work of a modern lab requires teamwork and cooperation. The science is too complex for lone individuals to be successful. Improving your communication skills and introducing more elements of positive communication into the lab will drive better relationships and better teamwork.

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