7 verbal communication tips to help you integrate in the workplace

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How to speak better in the workplace: 7 tips

Are you scared to speak up because of poor grammar? Do you avoid asking questions because you don’t want them to think that you don’t know your job?

Speaking up at work helps you fit in with your colleagues. It also helps build your credibility. Follow these tips:

  1. Don’t worry about grammar

    You don’t need perfect grammar to speak. You just need to make sense and speak clearly. The more you practice the better you’ll get.

  2. Communicate the Canadian way

    Canadian communication is:

    • Clear – Choose simple words.
    • Brief – Keep your sentences short.
    • Logical – Say the most important thing first.
    • Polite – Use respectful words. (Examples: “Please”, “Thank you”, “Will/Would you please?”)
  3. Pronounce words clearly

    Speak at the right pace. Pause in between ideas or “thought groups” in a sentence. Don’t say “umm,” or laugh to hide your nervousness. Don’t worry about your accent! Manitobans are used to hearing different accents.

  4. Ask when you don’t know

    Asking questions is expected when you are new. Your supervisor and colleagues will even appreciate it because it shows that you want to do a good job. Ask right away rather than waiting or making a mistake. Mistakes waste time, effort and money.

  5. Seek feedback

    Ask for comments from your supervisor or colleagues. Your supervisor will also give you a performance review. It’s good to know what you are doing well and what aspects need improvement.

    Many Canadians will give you a “feedback sandwich”. This is feedback given between two positive statements. See 5 steps to giving constructive feedback at work that really helps for examples of the feedback sandwich.

    Seek a language coach or a mentor if you want pointers to improve your communication skills.

  6. Master English

    Never stop learning English. Learning English is a continuous commitment. Even native speakers take classes or join clubs to improve their communication skills. This is necessary if you want to move up in your career.

  7. Learn from your mistakes and stay positive

    You will experience many awkward situations in your first months as a newcomer. This is normal. It is part of integrating into the workplace. Don’t be hard on yourself and stay positive. Study the mistake, learn the lesson, and try to be better when you’re faced with a similar situation.

Practice these seven tips and start speaking more in your workplace. Your ideas, suggestions, and questions are valuable. Your company can learn a lot from your unique perspective. Share your thoughts and start speaking up! This will show your boss and co-workers that you are a committed team member.
Article updated September 17, 2020.
Adapted from Workplace Integration – A Desk Reference for Newcomers to Canada by Paul Holmes 2012. Published through Anthony & Holmes Consulting Ltd. and the Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society.

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Community Resources

Read Speaking up at work: 4 tips to make your voice heard for more tips.

Join a conversation circle to improve your conversation skills. Check this article for links: Language training programs in Manitoba) or join our Virtual Coffee Chats.

Need help to speak clearly? See Online resources to improve your pronunciation.

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