Communication is a two-way process. It involves the exchange of information: talking (giving information) as well as listening (receiving data). Sometimes we listen to what’s told but are reluctant to ask questions for fear of appearing unsure or incompetent.

To make sure that we understand what is said, we should never hesitate to do some talking as well—asking what, when and how questions clarify matters and reduce the possibility of misunderstandings.

Giving instructions is an essential part of a working relationship.

Giving clear instructions involves a lot more than just telling someone what to do. It means both what is said and how it is said. Instructions worded in such a way that the listener knows we have confidence in his or her ability to do the job.

Providing constructive feedback or suggestions for change to an employee, employer or co-worker is sometimes necessary. Valuable feedback involves more than making a simple statement that something is incorrect. We do this to point out why a method does or doesn’t work and to suggest alternative ways that may work.

Most people find it difficult to accept feedback or suggestions for change. Sometimes we take such comments personally and react defensively. Although criticism may be painful to admit, it is more likely to be accepted if it’s directed at our work or behaviour rather than toward us as individuals.

Try to view the feedback, whether given or received, as an attempt to improve the quality of the relationship or work and not as a personal attack. It takes tact, patience, firmness and sensitivity to achieve positive results when giving feedback as well.

We must believe in ourselves and in the value of what we have to say.

The way we see things may provide valuable insight to our employers. For example, if we have come up with ideas for improving the efficiency of specific tasks and if we’ve thought about them carefully and believe in them, we should share those thoughts. Everyone benefits.

We also have a responsibility to ourselves to develop our support group or network of friends and associates. Surrounding ourselves with people who stimulate, inspire and encourage us to do our best can only help to place us in situations where we’re more likely to succeed.

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