Workplace communication constantly evolves with newer, better, faster technologies, but what happens when all these technologies are piled onto a
foundation of poor communication practices? Whether in-person, over the phone, via email or through video conference there’s one constant: we’re talking to people.
An organisation's workforce usually come from various backgrounds: educationally, socially, economically, geographically and culturally . Effectively communicating ideas across these differences requires some serious savvy. Since communicating to individuals happens at the beginning, middle and end of most projects, the importance of effective communication in the workplace can't be over-emphasised.
3 ways in which we can improve the outlook for good, effective communication in the workplace :-
Communication Styles : The more closely you know someone, the easier it is to communicate with them. Listening to and learning from co-workers lends to a greater understanding of how they process information and understand the world around them. Work atmosphere or time constraints can hinder your ability to know someone on a more personal level, but there are other ways to learn better communication. Personality questionnaires like Myers-Briggs, provide insight into the characteristics and inner-workings of individuals without defining them. As Myers Briggs (MBTI) focuses on preferences not traits its a non-judgemental approach to understanding style, particularly when it comes to communication, and addresses our default mode of being which is often where we function from in a pressured work environment. For example, a room full of typical Extroverted types is often quite loud and dynamic as they tend to process ideas/emotions externally and have a need to talk about it, whilst Introverted types need time to process information internally and if this dynamic isn't understood to some degree it can lead to what is called a 'psychological flood' where a person is literally overwhelmed with the emotions of not being able to express themselves or communicate in the manner comfortable to them ( their default communication style ). When communication styles are clearly understood within teams / organisations it can powerfully improve productivity and collaboration.
Listening is so much more than hearing : Understanding what makes your employees tick from a communication perspective and how to inspire them to be more than they ever thought possible is a crucial and much needed business practice. If your employees feel fulfilled and valued, they’re more likely to do their best work. Effective communication is the key to identifying and meeting employee needs within the context of the business. When problems arise, approach them with an open mind and non-judgemental attitude, particularly avoiding judging a persons character ( judge actions only as that gives people the scope to make changes where necessary ). Keeping communication honest first requires creating a safe space. Then, help employees understand how their role fits within the bigger picture of the organisation's goals. This will foster an environment where employees are encouraged and rewarded for productivity.
Face to face communication : The workplace has become more and more reliant on technology and increasingly text-based – email and instant messaging. Communicating via technology is great, it increases speed and efficiency and is fundamentally accepted as a cultural norm , but using email and instant messaging as a main or only method of communication risks neglecting the art of face to face conversation. There's always the risk of misinterpretations or things being taken out of context with electronic communication only, in fact we know that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. The non-verbal component is made up of body language (55 percent) and tone of voice (38 percent) but it adds weight to the argument that face to face in person communication still has a major role to play in the way we communicate in this technological age. Some newer technologies can promote more effective communication by bringing nonverbal attributes back. For instance, live video based communication provides a reasonable face-to-face experience without everyone needing to be in the same physical space.
Before you present an idea or concept, deliver constructive feedback or even enter into casual conversation consider the individual you’re communicating with. Even with a small degree of awareness of communication style you can frame a verbal communication far more effectively for your audience and get a great outcome.