As a professional with an opinion, voicing thoughts to your co-workers, regardless of their rank can sometimes be intimidating. In many cases, employees can be reluctant to provide input in order to avoid stepping on another person’s toes. Other times, opinions are suppressed because an employee may feel their position limits their ability to contribute and be taken seriously. Whatever the case, this tends to create barriers which eventually take a toll on the company atmosphere, so we came up with a few tips for breaking them down:

Communication: 

Communication in its many forms is an essential piece of any smooth-operating office environment. Whether it be over the phone, through email, or face-to-face, it’s important to consider the method of delivery in regards to the impression you are trying to make. For instance, assigning a list of tasks may be better suited for an email, where explaining each task may make more sense to do over the phone or in-person.

Depending on the message you want to get across, understand that while emails are great for providing a point of reference, the best way to avoid a misunderstanding is to have a conversation as close to in-person as possible (i.e. phone call, Skype, face-to-face contact). The downfall of written words is that they aren’t always interpreted the way they are intended, which ultimately, causes confusion.

Maintaining a receptive outlook for communication will brand you as more approachable and will provide a sense of ease with those who need to ask questions or would like to provide input.

Self Awareness:

One of the ways you can practice this idea is by accepting contributions from your co-workers and being open-minded to them. The more you neglect people’s viewpoints, the less likely they are to come forward with them down the line. However, the more you are able to invite and accept input and suggestions from your team, the stronger the likelihood of being approached in any situation.

Another bonus to being self-aware is being able to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you’re not what one would consider a “people person” but you’re an excellent negotiator; knowing what you bring to the table will make a world of difference in how you represent yourself as well as how others see you.

Hierarchy: 

It’s safe to say that nothing can put up a barrier in the workplace like an office hierarchy. That being said, it is unlikely you will ever work somewhere that doesn’t have one, so it’s best to not let it intimidate you.

The point of a company having a structure is to establish rank and divvy up tasks accordingly. In knowing this, remember that no matter how “low” position, each role exists for a reason. By rule of thumb, when one job is not being executed properly, the others will eventually come to a slow in attempt to pick up the extra slack. Working as a team is beneficial not only for efficiency, but because combined knowledge provides perspective and allows you to utilize the strengths of each individual.

Promoting company-wide communication is essential to breaking down barriers that can easily arise in the natural order of a company. By encouraging collaboration and initiating teamwork, employees will recognize the benefits of working together. Eliminating the sense of divide is an excellent way to boost morale amongst employees and should make for smoother operations overall which is ultimately what you want.