This is a college blog right? So why are we talking about co-worker communication?

It could be because according to the most recent data made available by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), holding down a job while going to college is fairly common — including 40 percent of full-time students and 76 percent of part-time students.

For many of these students, their college employment will be their first “real job,” meaning a great deal of basic job skills, such as proper customer service and time management, will be learned from this position. In addition, many of these working students will be employed on your campus in a variety of roles — from the campus bookstore, to the cafeteria, to computer labs, to research assistants.

And, of course, students will only spend a handful of years (hopefully) at university before they move on to their long-term career, where success will hinge greatly upon how effectively they can communicate.

What Are the Keys to Positive Communication?

Actively listen

When conversing with co-workers, don’t be focused on the next thing you are planning to say. Instead concentrate on understanding and remembering their contribution to the conversation, which is, after all, a two-way street. By demonstrating to colleagues that you are truly paying attention — such as by asking follow-up questions or paraphrasing their statements — you can encourage more successful communication and ensure that your fellow employee feels “heard.”

Be professional

Even in the face of an irate customer (or co-worker) common courtesy should be the rule. Try to not say anything to a colleague that you would not want said to you.

In addition, there are a number of subjects that should be avoided while “on the clock,” including religion, politics, and sex. These conversations, when unchecked, can quickly divert into harassment and discriminatory behavior, which should never be tolerated in the workplace.

Know yourself

Be mindful of your current attitude. If you are having a bad day, that can easily bleed into your interactions with co-workers and customers. And if you act or speak without thinking — and recognizing your internal attitude — you might be undermining work relationships without even realizing it.

Regularly take 30 seconds throughout the work day to assess how things have gone so far and how that may have affected you. Also envision upcoming challenges that the day may still hold, and anticipate how you will handle them. By being better prepared, you are less likely to react in the moment.

Be clear

When communicating processes or policies, particularly ones that are being changed, deliver this information in written form. Clearly documented guidelines allow you and your team to refer back to a commons source for clarity, while verbal instructions are dependent on the inherent fallibility of human memory.

Recognize individuality

Take the time to get to know your co-workers. Not everyone communicates the same. Some people prefer verbal communication, while others would rather receive a text or email. By paying attention to your colleagues preferences and taking measures to adapt your communication style accordingly, you can better avoid misunderstandings.

Similarly, try to take note of their unique personalities and senses of humor. While a sarcastic comment may be entertaining to some, other colleagues may find it offensive or hurtful.

Avoid negativity

Everyone has a bad day at the office, but routinely, discussions about annoying customers or clients should not be held at the workplace. The one exception being if an existing problem undermines your ability to perform your job well, and in that case, the conversation should only occur with your manager — not the rest of the office.


Obviously, these strategies can promote better communication among campus staff as well. And by being genuine in their conversations and more mindful of others, your students and employees will not only encourage their own voices to be heard but they will more clearly understand the thoughts and intentions of others.

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