Workplace Communication: Quick Tips for Procurement Managers

Effective communication among peers and stakeholders is especially important for procurement managers.


As workers transition back into on-site roles, workplace communication, and ways to improve it, is once again on the top of many minds in offices across the nation. As a side effect of COVID, there may be some growing pains as workers transition back into on-site roles. While it's true that workplace communication is a skill we have all learned through osmosis in our professional careers, there is always room for improvement. Procurement managers may find expense programs an especially difficult subject matter to communicate to their colleagues about. In this blog post, we'll go over some general tips for effective workplace communication.

Procurement managers may find expense programs an especially difficult subject matter to communicate to their colleagues about. In this blog post, we’ll go over some general tips for effective workplace communication.

Effective communication is important in all walks of life, and the workplace is certainly no exception. It is frequently suggested by workers across the nation and beyond as an area where their organization can improve. Additionally, as a side effect of COVID, there may be some growing pains as workers transition back into on-site roles.

Sometimes we overlook the “hidden in plain sight” tells that people may be giving off when interacting with them, as well as the tells we ourselves are giving off. These can be in the form of specific language or non-verbal cues.

Active listening is another crucial cog in the wheel. To actively listen means to try to understand the meaning and intent of the words communicated. It also involves providing appropriate feedback through both verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s important to realize that those with different perspectives than us can bring new ideas to the table. Actively listening to other points of view leads to more effective and efficient workarounds to problems that can come up at any given time.

While it’s true that interpersonal communication of any kind is a skill that all of us have learned naturally to some extent, and that it’s a skill that comes more naturally to some than to others, there is always room for improvement, especially in the workplace. In this blog post, we’ll explore not only ways to improve your communication with your peers, but also pointers on how to productively communicate to someone with a different perspective than yourself.

Colleagues communicating at the workplace.

Know Your Audience

Your audience can consist of colleagues, clients, regulatory bodies, auditors, management, stakeholders, and more. Try to envision being in their shoes. Also, if you’re communicating with someone from a different department from yourself, try to avoid jargon and technical terms that relate to your particular line of work. For example, a procurement manager may want to avoid discussing merchant category codes (MCCs), rogue or maverick spend, and split transactions without defining those terms first. If they are a stakeholder, chances are they care about specific metrics and functions, so keeping your communication lean and easy to digest is important.

At the same time, take care not to “dumb down” your talking points to a condescending level. Remember the old, but reliable golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. That goes for workplace communication too. Speak to them at the same level you would expect someone to address you at. A simple, inoffensive question such as “Do you know about X?” can be a great way to ascertain how to go about communicating with someone while skirting that line between overwhelming them and talking down to them. Also remember to be clear and concise, as overexplaining can confuse or complicate your original point.

As a reader of this blog, it’s likely that you are involved in the finance or procurement department at your organization. If you are a procurement manager and would like some pointers on how to effectively communicate your expense program to stakeholders or others outside your department, check out an earlier blog post going over four steps to effective communication within your expense program.

Hear Them Out

Active listening involves not only listening and processing, but also providing feedback. This way, you can engage in the conversation and later recall specific details without needing to be told them again.

The general school of thought is that there are five active listening skills:

  • Pay attention. This one really goes without saying, it simply means to give undivided attention and put away distractive thoughts.
  • Show that you’re listening. Non-verbal listening cues like nodding occasionally, smiling, maintaining an open body posture subliminally communicate to the speaker that you are engaged in the conversation. Additionally, small verbal cues such as “mhm”, “yes”, etc. encourage the speaker. We’ll get more into non-verbal communication shortly.
  • Provide feedback. Never be afraid to ask questions to ensure that you understand what is being said. Questions are just one form of feedback. Providing examples to clarify the speaker’s points is another way to provide it.
  • Defer judgement. Make sure not to interrupt. There is a time for counterpoints, which leads to the final skill…
  • Respond appropriately. Opposing points of view should be made respectfully and once the speaker has finished their point. Positive feedback is important, too. If you’re looking for ways to communicate positive purchasing behavior with your stakeholders, check out our blog post here.

Non-Verbal Communication

Body language is vital to making sure people feel comfortable, acknowledged, and included. Eye contact makes people feel as though they are being directly considered and communicated with. Be mindful of certain mannerisms, such as crossing or folding your arms. This can indicate that you are closed off from a conversation, even if the arm-crosser doesn’t mean to convey that. Try to adopt more open, neutral, and friendly body language to signal that you are confident, credible, and professional. These traits are especially valued in the workplace. For example, keeping your chin level, hands visible, and maintaining a wide stance with eye contact portrays confidence.

Practice Makes Perfect

Workplace communication is a difficult skill to master, but keeping some of these best practices in mind can help in the world of procurement and beyond. And just like with anything, practice makes perfect. Don’t spend too much time thinking about an awkward encounter other than to learn from it for next time. We’re only human, after all!

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