The Importance of Communication at Work


As the one-month mark at my internship approaches, I finally feel like I have gotten into the swing of things. I figured out how to work the copy machine and I’m no longer embarrassed by the 3 cups of coffee I get from the community kitchen in the morning. I’ve gotten a chance to know the people (and dog!) 1in the office better and am slowly but surely developing a daily routine.

Entering a new workplace can be daunting and I’ve learned that mastering the form of communication with your coworkers and supervisor, in particular, is key. Not only does effective communication help you become a more productive intern, but it can also make you feel like an integrated part of your organization.

Here are some tips on communicating more effectively with your supervisor during your internship:

Learn which kind of communication they prefer.

Would they rather chat face-to-face or are they more of an email kind of person? Ask them which form of communication is most convenient so that you know the best way to get into contact.

Establish a routine check-in time.

Ask your supervisor if you can meet weekly or bi-weekly to check in with each other. It’ll keep you on track and it’s helpful to know that there is a designated time for you to ask questions and get feedback.

Be upfront.

If you feel swamped or have way too much on your plate, let your supervisor know ASAP. It’s better to let them know sooner rather than later so that they can plan accordingly.

 Ask questions.

Sometimes it’s difficult to admit that you don’t really know what you are doing. However, internships are supposed to be learning experiences and it’s okay to ask your supervisor for a little guidance if you are unsure of something. They are there to help you and ultimately want you to succeed!

Here are some other ways to utilize communication in the workplace.

 -Liana Berke

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9 Responses to The Importance of Communication at Work

  1. wujesi says:

    Hi! Thanks for your post. I agree with you about learning what kind of communication people in your office prefer. Through my experience, speaking to people in person can be effective but it leads people to forget things easily. My tactic is: I will e-mail the person and then if I don’t hear back in 2 days I will talk to them in person.. asking if they got my e-mail.. this usually speeds up the process.

  2. Alison Jelden says:

    Currently, I am having a hard time asking my supervisor about my hours. At my internship, we are right in the middle of fundraising so it is hard to ask for less hours. Thanks for the advice about being upfront with the supervisor. It is a conversation to have at work!

  3. jlandre2014 says:

    Learning which type of communication your supervisors prefers is great advice. Some people get really annoyed when coworkers pop into their office for a quick question, and some people prefer it to email. Establishing your supervisors preferences early on is a good way to avoid confrontation later on down the road. Nice post!

  4. What form of communication is best really varies on the type of person whom you’re working with — that’s a good point. I love having superiors who are approachable enough that you can call, email, or speak with in-person whenever you have a problem. Letting managers and superiors know what your quandaries are helps them better understand the precise issue at hand, and it will always be superior to suffocating under the immense pressure of too many responsibilities. Ultimately, though, Liana, I am jealous that your workplace has a community kitchen with coffee.

  5. robbydavis23 says:

    I agree with you that communication is key for our internships. Without fully understanding what our supervisors expect from us we are essentially setting ourselves up for failure. We can’t let nerves or worrying about how we look in front of our coworkers discourage us from communicating with our bosses. We will be asking questions for the rest of out lives, so why not get used to it now?

  6. kalimungovan says:

    Thanks for the post! I am also learning quickly that communication is key. It is so important to communicate with your coworkers and supervisors and people really do communicate in different ways. I think I found it most difficult to learn that it’s okay to ask questions. I thought that asking a question was admitting that I didn’t know what I was doing but I’ve learned that asking questions is more about wanting to do it right; it shows that you are willing and eager to learn!

  7. Asking questions has truly been a difficult task for me. I don’t want to admit that I don’t know what I am doing. I think sometimes I convince myself I don’t know how to do something but in actuality I just need to look a little bit closer. I have also found that asking for help and communicating with the people around me before I go to my supervisor has been very rewarding. It has helped me open connections and feel more comfortable asking for help in the future because the communication has been established. I have found that people are more than happy to help as long as you put in equal effort beforehand.

  8. kativanloo says:

    I agree with your suggestion of setting up a routine check-in time with your supervisor each week. That is how I am able to communicate my progress and get feedback at my current internship. It eliminates the stress of wondering how you are doing or when you will receive the feedback you need on certain assignments, and it also lets your supervisor know how your projects are going. If it’s the same time every week, you know when to exactly when you can expect that productive chat with your supervisor. Thanks for your post!

  9. pdxsx says:

    Outstanding advice, Liana! I particularly liked your advice to learn what kinds of communication styles your coworkers will appreciate! Some will want you to take notes, some will want you to be more casual, but all of them will want some kind of interaction! 🙂

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