Understanding and Implementing
Effective Communication By: Amy Shelton
Business success is 85 percent dependent on effective communication and interpersonal skills. In addition, one-forth of all workplace mistakes are the result of poor communication. While it is easy to take communication for granted because we do it everyday, there is much to reap from implementing it into your environment. Communication is an exchange of feelings, ideas, and information, whether by speaking, writing, signals or behaviors. Thus, the concept that communication is the effective exchange of meaning or understanding applies to both formal and informal communication. In addition, it applies to communication up, down and across an organization. When organizations are operating with ineffective or poor communication it may lead to: •
Lack of information
Decrease in employee’s performance
Decrease in company’s turnover, as a result
Effective communication in the workplace provides employees with a clear understanding of what is demanded from them, with knowledge of what to do and what to expect. However, it is important to remember that communication is not one way. People in organizations typically spend over 75 percent of their time communicating. However, communication will only be effective if it is accompanied by feedback. Thus, all organizational levels should take part in providing feedback in order to constantly strengthen ongoing communication with the organization. Communication: A Two-Way Road One of the most important aspects of effective communication is to recognize that it is a two-way model. In most cases, a person will try to convey their message to the person receiving in order to get
their information relayed. However, the listener or reader may only understand part of the message or none at all. Thus, merely delivering a message is inadequate. The steps involved in the send-receive model of communication are: 1. The sender sends a message 2. The receiver gets the message and personalizes it. 3. The receiver, in turn, sends feedback and thus becomes a sender. 4. The original sender now becomes a receiver and reacts to the feedback. 5. Generally, a new communication sequence is then initiated. In the send-receive model1, receiving or listening is as critical as sending the message because, without listening, it is impossible to personalize and respond to the message. Overall, when feedback occurs as the result of a two-way communication model it is recognized as the most effective form of communication.
Barriers to Effective Communication There are many barriers in the communication system that prevents the message from reaching the receiver. Thus, causing an ineffective communication model, which could potentially create roadblocks in your professional and personal life. Research suggests that there is 50 percent to 70 percent loss of meaning while conveying the messages from a sender to a receiver. In addition, five basic places where communication could be interpreted incorrectly are physical barriers, language barriers, emotional barriers, lack of subject knowledge and stress2. Physical Barriers - One of the major barriers of communication in a workplace is the physical barrier. Physical barriers in an organization include large working areas that are physically separated from 1 2
FEMA (ttp://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/downloads/IS242.pdf) Pillai (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/barriers-to-effective-communication.html)
others. Other distractions that could cause a physical barrier in an organization are the environment, background noise Language - Inability to converse in a language that is known by both the sender and receiver is the greatest barrier to effective communication. When a person uses inappropriate words while conversing or writing, it could lead to misunderstanding between the sender and a receiver. Emotions - Your emotions could be a barrier to communication if you are engrossed in your emotions for some reason. In such cases, you tend to have trouble listening to others or understanding the message conveyed to you. A few of the emotional interferences include hostility, anger, resentfulness and fear. Lack of Subject Knowledge - If a person who sends a message lacks subject knowledge then he may not be able to convey his message clearly. The receiver could misunderstand his message, and this could lead to a barrier to effective communication. Stress - One of the major communication barriers faced by employees in most of the organization is stress. When a person is under immense stress, he may find it difficult to understand the message, leading to communication distortion. At the time of stress, our psychological frame of mind depends on our beliefs, experiences, goals and values. Thus, we fail to realize the essence of communication. Such barriers create hurdles for the success within communication; however, they are easy to overcome by implementing the proper tools. Such tools include3: Listen Actively Be attentive - concentrate on what is being said. Be impartial - don't form an opinion, just listen. Reflect back - restating what has been said helps the speaker know that you understand. Summarize - pull together the important messages so that you and the speaker recognize what was important during the conversation.
Nonverbal Message Posture - let your body show that you are interested by sitting up and leaning toward the speaker. Equal positioning - if the speaker is standing, you stand. If the speaker is sitting, you sit as well. Facial expression - remember that feelings are reflected in facial expressions. Gestures - your body language reveals a lot about how you interpret a message, so be aware of when you send signals that might cause the speaker to believe that you are angry, in a hurry, bored, etc. Express Thoughts and Feelings Be open and honest - collaboration between parents and professionals begins with the understanding that you trust each other with all information. Speak clearly - don't mumble and don't talk too quietly. If you don't know the word for something, describe what you mean so that you and the speaker can have a shared understanding of your concern or question.
Communicate Without Being Adversarial Express concerns non-judgmentally - talk about your questions or concerns without blaming other people. For example, you might be angry that your child is not receiving enough speech therapy. Rather than talk about the speech therapist not doing his/her job, discuss your idea of how often your child should receive this service. Use "I" messages. Rather than say, "You didn't explain that very well," say, "I didn't understand what you just said. Please explain it again." Employees and the Work Environment In todayâ€™s working world employees wants are often ignored or pushed aside. However, it is important to respect and listen to employees; they are the life and blood of the company itself. Recent studies suggest that employees have lined out what they want: fair compensation, performance rewards, respect, stability, a winning team, clear goals and core values, and a fun environment. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, it is important to manage productivity and achievement. This can be done through: 1. Give employees what they need to learn and succeed. 2. Set goals for the company, teams and individuals. 3. Track business, team and individual performance.
4. Reward, retain and promote people who “deliver the goods.” 5. Celebrate success and share profits with the team. All of the above cannot be achieved without maintaining an effective communication model. However, research has suggested positive correlations with creating a fun, rewarding environment. Thus, helping employees work harder which, in turn, helps boost the company as a whole.
Benefits of Effective Communication Effective communication is an essential component of organizational success whether it is at the interpersonal, organizational or external level. Again, since 75 percent of the time people are communicating during work, then it should be no surprise that effective communication cultivates great rewards. Communication helps organizations accomplish it goals. These goals include: •
Increases commitment to the organization
Makes relationships better
Leads to better external reputation for the organization
Reduces incidents due to miscommunication
Better problem solving
Greater personal satisfaction
Overall, the implementation of effective communication will strengthen your existing relationships and help you form positive bonds in the future both internally and externally.