Welcome to Communication Tips – curated by NWIRC. Our staff of professionals are working with manufacturing companies of all sizes everyday to help them develop a workplace culture that will attract employees and create a place where they will flourish and stay. This page is designed to organize some of the communication tips we share with companies and also discuss within our own team at NWIRC. Be sure to check back often for new and insightful tips.

Communication Tip 1:

Don’t interrupt: The best way to make someone feel like they are not being heard is to interrupt or talk on top of them. Listen fully and wait until they are done to ask questions or add your thoughts.

Quote:  “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” -Brian Tracy

Fun Facts:  Talking requires the use of dozens of muscles in the lips, throat, and tongue, but speaking in a normal tone is no more tiring than sitting in silence.


Communication Tip 2:

Active listening: an effective tool to advance any form of cross-cultural communication. Whenever you listen deeply to catch the whole meaning, have a sense of reading-between-lines, and ask open questions, you will build a strong rapport and ensures that important information does not get missed.

Quote: “Culture is the name for what people are interested in, their thoughts, their models, the books they read and the speeches they hear.”  Walter Lipmann

Fun Fact: The major elements of culture are symbols, language, aesthetics, education, religion, attitudes, and social organization


Communication Tip 3:

Don’t Fake Interest: Be Interested in others. Ask better questions. Be truly curious. The more curious you are the better your communication becomes.

Quote: “Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” -Patrick Lencioni 

Fun Fact: In 1963, the US Military created an artificial ring around Earth, similar to that of the planet Saturn. The ring was made of copper needles and was used for worldwide communications in the case that the Soviets disabled all other methods of communication.


Communication Tip 4:

The way most people listen, isn’t really listening: Listening to reply is the standard way that most people communicate. What that means is that instead of really paying attention to what the other person is saying, you are already thinking about what you want to say in response. Of course, it’s great to have a well-thought-out reply, but if you’re thinking about what you want to say instead of hearing what the other person is saying, you aren’t really listening and communicating well. You may be getting your point across — or not, if the other person listens the same way you do — but you’re not having a meaningful interaction with the other person.

Quote: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” -Ernest Hemingway 

Fun Fact: 85% of what we have learned is through listening (not talking or reading).


Communication Tip 5:

Find hidden meaning: Instead of taking things for face value, look for what isn’t being said. Look for the meaning behind the meaning. If you think you know the meaning, question that assumption. Ask more questions. Get clarification and stay curious.

Quote: “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  –Peter Drucker 

Fun Fact: Thomas Edison taught his second wife, Mina, morse code so they could secretly communicate with each other while her family was around.


Communication Tip 6:

Do you know the elevator pitch concept? Even though it’s important to plan for meetings, at any moment we all need to be ready to engage with potential clients, peers, and the community we serve. Showing confidence when you greet someone for the first time gives a good first impression. An elevator pitch is a brief (think 30 seconds!) way of introducing yourself, getting across a key point or two, and making a connection with someone. It’s called an elevator pitch because it takes roughly the amount of time, you’d spend riding an elevator with someone.

Quote: “If there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s not to fear the unscripted but to embrace it.” -Ernie Johnson

Fact: It takes less than one minute for a potential client, investor, or employee to size up your business, and the effects of this first moment of contact are lasting. For instance, one survey found that 66% of consumers would not give a business a second chance after a bad first impression.


Communication Tip 7:

Breaking bad news to customers is not an easy task. However, sometimes it’s a duty that many business owners or executives must carry out – with empathy and professionalism.

Here are five strategies for delivering the message with compassion:

1. Tell the truth. People tend to fear what they do not understand. Put the situation into perspective for your customer. Give as much information as you can about the who, what, when where and why.

2. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. It’s useless and naïve to tell customers not to worry or expect them not to get frustrated. They ARE worried, and maybe even angry at how the events will affect them (or their companies) personally. Don’t leave them guessing. Give them all the facts.

3. Acknowledge their feelings. Don’t invalidate their feelings by suggesting the situation is “not that bad.” This is also not a time for humor. Let them vent. Negative emotions must be dealt with before they can be replaced with a positive plan of action.

4. Take charge. Outline a specific plan of action that you and your company will take. Assume ownership for the customer’s situation.

5. Follow through. Make it your priority to track the progress on the customer’s problem within your company. Make frequent status reports to the customer until the situation is resolved to his or her satisfaction.

Quote: “More information is always better than less. When people know the reason things are happening, even if it’s bad news, they can adjust their expectations and react accordingly. Keeping people in the dark only serves to stir negative emotions.” – Simon Sinek

Fact: According to a Zendesk study, in the manufacturing sector, 81% of customers say that a good customer experience encourages another purchase. In this context, providing responsive and efficient customer service should be a priority for manufacturers.


Communication Tip 8:

Investing in a high-level video strategy allows you to communicate with your audience in an attractive way all while staying relevant, and the power of storytelling will help you to spread a message in a creative and innovative way by playing with the emotions of your audience.

Quote: “Stop thinking of video marketing as this separate entity that is optional for your business. Video is an effective form of communication that needs to be integrated into each and every aspect of your existing marketing efforts.” –James Wedmore

Fact: Why are videos important in communication? Not only does video work, but it works better. Messages conveyed in video are more engaging and they lead to a higher retention rate. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text according to Pop Video.


Communication Tip 9:

Why does consistency matter in communication? Consistency is a measure of how much people feel your brand delivers, every time. People want to know that they can depend on the brands they choose.
Communication plays a key role in this – building trust with people by being cohesive over time and across touchpoints.

Quote: “The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” -Sydney J. Harris

Fact: Any reinvigoration of US manufacturing will also require reinvention. Around the world, companies are taking a fresh look at the paradigms that have dominated the industry’s evolution for decades, with the aim of making manufacturing more sustainable, more digital, more skilled, and more resilient.


Communication Tip 10:

Core principles for effectively communicating appreciation*:

  1. Making sure praise is specific and personal. The most common mistake managers make is sending communication that is general and impersonal. They send blast emails with no specific meaning to the individual who stayed late to get the project completed. It is better to use the employee’s name and tell them specifically what they do that makes one’s job easier.
  2. Realizing that other types of actions can be more impactful than words for many people. Some employees do not value verbal praise.  For many people, they have grown to not believe compliments from others, expecting them primarily to be an act of manipulation. Other actions can be more impactful for these individuals, like spending time with them or helping them get a task done.
  3. Using the language of appreciation valued by the recipient. Not everyone likes public recognition or social events. One leader stated, “You can give me an award but you’ll have to shoot me first before I’ll go up and get it in front of a crowd.”  And for many introverts, going to a “staff appreciation dinner” is more like torture than a reward for doing a good job. They may prefer getting a gift card for a bookstore and staying at home.  Find out what they value and communicate in that language.
  4. Separating affirmation from constructive criticism or instruction. If you want the positive message to be heard loud and clear, don’t follow your affirmation with “Now, if you would only…” message.  Don’t give them a compliment and then tell them how they could do the task better. They will only remember the constructive criticism and may not hear the positive.
  5. Being genuine. Don’t try to fake it or overstate your appreciation. People want appreciation to be genuine, not contrived.

Quote: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” –John F. Kennedy

Fact: Appreciation keeps employees engaged. In addition to improving productivity, showing appreciation in the workplace also increases employee engagement and dedication. Appreciation helps build staff loyalty. The Robert Half study show 66% of employees leave their job because of a lack of appreciation.

*Source: Paul White, Ph.D., is a psychologist, author, speaker and consultant who makes work relationships work.  He is co-author of “Rising Above a Toxic Workplace” and “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” Training Industry 2014


Communication Tip 11:

As we head into the busy holiday season it is important that managers/owners do not lose sight of their employees. It is a season and time for celebration family and employees need to feel like they are part of an extended family.

  1. Provide more schedule flexibility. This is one of the easiest ways to support your employees during the holiday. Many employers offer flexible schedules throughout the year, but now is the time to start if yours doesn’t.
  2. Motivate your employees to get some much-needed rest. It might seem like a luxury to take time off, but taking time off positively impacts productivity. According to a study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, workers who took vacations were more productive than those who didn’t. And according to another study, employees who took breaks had higher energy levels and better moods than those who did not.
  3. Reduce Workloads. While it might sound counterintuitive, reducing workloads can help your employees avoid burnout. The problem is that most companies don’t track workloads.
  4. Build up communications on mental health. Many employees struggle with anxiety and depression during the holidays because they feel isolated from their coworkers. A recent study found that nearly half of employees surveyed said they felt depressed during the holidays. So, ramping up communications around mental health can go a long way toward supporting your employees.
  5. Help your team members to give back. Many organizations hold events to raise money for charity during the holidays. These events allow employees to get involved in something meaningful while giving back to their communities. There are many ways to participate in these events. Some ideas include: Host a food drive, donate blood……etc.
  6. Check on your workers. It’s easy to forget about your employees when you’re busy celebrating the holidays. However, taking a few minutes to check in with your employees can help ensure that they’re doing well.
  7. Foster self-care and well-being. The holidays can be stressful for anyone. That’s why it’s essential to make sure your employees have the resources they need to handle the stress. One way to do this is by promoting wellness programs within your organization.
  8. Consider your own well-being. Finally, remember that you are just as important as your employees. It’s easy to lose sight of this when spending so much time with others. But, making time for yourself is essential to staying healthy and happy.

Source: Excerpts from Steve Todd, Open Sourced Workplace

Quote: “I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.” – Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group

Fact: A study by online career website Glassdoor revealed that more than 80 percent of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, compared to less than 40 percent who are inspired to work harder when their boss is demanding or because they fear losing their job.