Valuable Tips for Effective Communication in the Workplace
Thought Leader: LaSharnda Beckwith, Ph.D.
You may ask, why should we care about our ability to communicate? Well, that’s easy. We should care because we want others to understand what we mean. We want to improve our relationships. We want to make sure things get done and in many cases, we want to advance our careers. One of the job skills employers desire most is effective communication. When people communicate effectively, they can build a productive working relationship, solve problems, supervise others, and create trust in the workplace.
There are at least four reasons we communicate with others:
To exchange information
To solve problems
We are constantly telling or informing others about various issues; often we try to convince other to do something, to think like we do, or to buy something. We communicate to solve problems and many times to make others laugh.
There are at least three areas of communications:
Within an organization: interviews, meetings, coffee breaks, telephone conversations, e-mails, performance reviews, etc.
With customers or the public: customer service, selling, reception desk, conventions, press interviews, recruiting.
In personal life: family discussions, church groups, or parties.
In other words, the opportunities for communication are almost limitless. People speak, read, write, and listen all the time. But they don’t always understand what they are trying to communicate to each other. Sometimes this is due to noise.
Noise is a part of any environment, but noise can interfere with communication. There are three types of noise:
Physical noise includes the actual sounds that the communicators can hear. Physical noise can also be the temperature, odor, or even poor lighting.
Physiological noise is usually a negative bodily condition that can shift the communicator's focus from communicating with others to concerns, like a headache, hunger or even taking note of a bad cold.
Psychological noise refers to mental rather than bodily distractions. Anxiety, worry, daydreaming, or extreme joy can distract the communicator from the message. Mental filters also select what makes it through the communication process and what gets left behind. Mental filters are memories, biases, attitudes, expectations, hot buttons, values, knowledge, feelings, age and vocabulary. The effective communicator must be aware of these distractions to overcome them.
In most organizations, communications failures, or breakdowns, are on the list of problems to be solved.
In fact, communication gaps are caused by the failure to convey, or understand, information, intent, or meaning of another, in particular between individuals with different perspectives.
Most think that they communicate very well; we all would like to think so. The truth is, effective communication takes effort; it takes careful consideration, and it takes time. If you want higher productivity in your department, your division, your organization, work on learning to communicate effectively by taking all the things I pointed out above into consideration. When we communication effectively, we build productive working relationships, solve problems, supervise others and build trust within our organizations.
There are at least five levels of Communication:
Intrapersonal communication means our internal dialogue. It is how we communicate with ourselves. It’s the little voice in our heads.
Interpersonal communication means how we involve ourselves with others. It is dyadic.
Group communication generally takes place with three or more people interacting and influencing each other in pursuit of a common goal. The communication can be formal or informal, and there is high verbal interaction.
Public communication is when one person speaks face-to-face with an audience. The larger the audience, the less chance there is for verbal interaction, and communication is generally one way and usually rather formal.
Mass communication is when the audiences become so large that it cannot be gathered together in one place, some type of medium is used to transmit the message. There is little to no verbal interaction, although you can send feedback through the delayed channels.
On the other hand, there are many problems that ineffective communication can cause.
Consequently, there are factors to consider when trying to communicate with others:
Education level and occupation
Political and Religious background
Prior knowledge of your topic
Communication barriers fall into 2 general categories:
The personal psychological characteristics of the sender and the receiver
The situational features of the environment
Considering all these factors can help us all communicate much more effectively.
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