When working in a team, no other skill is nearly as important as your communication skills. Communicating to your teammates isn’t limited to speaking your mind persuasively. In fact, listening and responding to what your teammates say are just as important—if not more important—aspects of communication. Teamwork is foremost about effective communication, and you won’t get anywhere if you don’t follow this advice:
1. Listen actively. Hearing is one thing, while listening is another thing altogether. When your teammates are speaking, make a deliberate effort to understand where they are coming for and what exactly they mean. If you miss an important detail, don’t hesitate to clarify—if anything, it will show your teammate that you have been listening attentively.
2. Seek clarification and ask questions. If your teammate makes a point that genuinely confuses you or if you miss an important detail, then you probably aren’t alone in your confusion. Bring up the matter and have it clarified before it causes any problem. In the same vein, if anyone asks you a question or clarification regarding what you said, answer them courteously.
3. Provide constructive feedback. Whenever ideas and proposals are presented, it will necessarily be subjected to critique. The team can’t simply accept every suggestion that arises; they must be analyzed carefully if the team wants to move forward with their goals. In this respect, critiques don’t have to be tactless or cross the line. When providing feedback, don’t express your opinion as a fact; back it up with reason. Moreover, compliment the idea, and highlight its positive points even if you don’t agree with it. Finally, don’t direct your opinion toward the person, but toward the idea—things will get ugly real fast if you don’t.
4. Present your idea in a positive manner. Presenting your ideas “positively” carries a lot of responsibility. For one, this means that you should be aware of any negative energy that you may be radiating. If you’re having a bad day or just don’t feel good, be careful not to let it show through your presentation. There’s also value in presenting your ideas with humor. As long as you don’t make offensive jokes about other people, their religion, or their political leanings, and of course as long as the joke is funny, feel free to include a little humor in your presentation.