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Effective communication at the workplace is vital because it helps in the following cases: effective sharing of data, the development of productive and efficient professional relationships between clients and among colleagues, creating a good impression of the company and certain passage of information (Velentzas and Broni, 2014).
The communication process is essential for the management team in certain situations such as issuing and receiving feedback from the staff and customers, conducting meetings with team leaders and members for the allocation of tasks, dealing with queries implementing or issuing roles (Jones, Watson, Gardner and Gallois, 2004). Liaise meetings can also be conducted with directors, managers or the board of governors to revise the company’s objectives or discuss administration issues. Other roles of the communication process in management are sharing accurate data among different departments through websites or various documents such as memos, dealing with clients, public members or visitors through meetings whereby questions or queries can be dealt with, formulating and implementing reports via email and PowerPoint presentations and creating team motivation through team building exercises (Bovee and Thill, 2004).
Stages in the Communication Cycle
stage: In this stage, the message or idea is created. The sender decides what word to communicate as well as the channel to use to relay the message.
stage: This is the transmission stage. The message can be delivered either orally or via the telephone.
stage: Reception stage which involves interpretation of the word by the listener or recipient through reading the data in a written form or carefully listening to the oral message.
stage: in the translation stage the recipient puts the news in a way that he/she can comprehend by paraphrasing.
stage: the final step is response whereby the receiver sends feedback to the sender in a written format or orally.
Barriers to Communication in the Workplace
Minor misunderstandings and misinterpretations cause communication barriers at the workplace while some are caused by stressful work atmosphere (Mackenzie, 2010, p. 529). People have different personalities, which contributes to the lack of understanding between employees. The following are the common barriers to effective communication at work:
Incomplete conversations: Irregular conversations are caused by lack of confidence by individual employees who do not know how to express themselves adequately so that they can acquire assistance regarding work (Trenholm and Jensen, 2008).
Body gestures: Body language can be misinterpreted especially when they do not coordinate with the information being relayed, hence giving mixed signals.
Assumptions and stereotypes: People at work can associate one another with stereotypes regarding certain races, ethnic backgrounds or religion. Preconceptions and generalizations are based on mere assumptions and can lead to communication barriers.
Dishonesty: When people find out that someone is always dishonest, the likelihood is high that they would listen to him or her again. The management must always stress honesty as a core value in the company, and disciplinary action must be taken against dishonest employees (Holmes and Stubbe, 2015).
Lack of proper listening skills: Sometimes people jump to conclusions without letting the other party finish their statements.
Lack of confidence: Some employees especially the ones in junior positions lack the confidence to express their rights and opinions.
The irregularity of information: people have different ways of interpreting information; therefore obscured information can cause significant communication barriers. Such can be overcome by observing information clarity and eliminating speech ambiguities (Institute of Leadership, 2007).
How to Overcome Potential Barriers to Communication
The first step to overcoming communication barriers at work is by practising proper listening skills. The management team can offer training on how to practice an appropriate listening and communication skills to avoid misinterpretation of information.
Employees must also be encouraged to communicate what is relevant during work hours. Moreover, the management should avoid giving too much information during meetings because people have different attention spans (Duplooy, 2009). Messages should be kept precise and only relay the main agenda.
Usage of casual language can pose a significant barrier to communication at work. Both oral and written messages should be in a professional style to ensure all staff members are on the same page. Casual language can be interpreted differently because of differences in cultures and age groups thus causing miscommunication (Myers and Sadaghiani, 2010).
The management should also stress the importance of being aware of cultural differences at work to prevent cross-cultural communication barriers. Insensitivity to cultural differences and social issues can cause mistrust among staff members.
All staff members should be encouraged to remain open-minded and freely share their opinions or any queries (Lankhorst, 2009). The management should also be willing always to assist employees who experience problems at work. Coworkers should also be willing to help one another. Regular communication by the management contributes significantly towards creating a comfortable work environment.
In the current world, the development of technology has simplified communication even in the corporate world. The communication app called Crew helps to overcome potential problems in virtual relaying of information because it simplifies messages, organises conversations and creates a team schedule for shifts and projects (Jones et al., 2004).
Methods of Communication
Written and Oral Communication at the Workplace and their Uses
Forms of written communication include emails, memos, reports, forms, formal letters, databases and spreadsheets, drawings, designs and graphs, charts, notices and informatory signs, brochures, newsletters, leaflets, social media and websites (Bovee and Thill, 2004). The different forms verbal communication include face-to-face conversations, formal meetings, telephone conversations, verbal communication via the internet, verbal announcements, lectures and training sessions, team building exercises and presentations (Lankhorst, 2009).
Written forms of communication are useful when sharing information with many staff members. They can also be used to deal with clients' complaints or queries and making purchases. Emails are viable when addressing a sensitive issue between a manager or supervisor and an employee. Reminders, notes and memos are used to remind the staff of the time and date of meetings or training sessions. Reports are important when presenting statistical data in presentation meetings. Forms are used in many cases such as making job applications, surveys, finance applications, orders and sales among other functions. Graphs, charts and drawings are suitable for visual communication of an organisation's expenditure (Mackenzie, 2010). Many organisations today have their websites which are useful for relaying messages to many people through the use of language, visual representations, graphs, pictures and symbols.
Oral communication can be used by team leaders to delegate duties to their members. The management uses face-to-face conversations during staff appraisal meetings. Other uses of verbal communication include conducting of interviews, dealing with supplier and customer queries, conducting of sales, conducting disciplinary meetings, mentoring and training sessions and demonstrations. Many organisations use Skype to hold video conferences. Mobile devices such as iPads and tablets are used to make a presentation during virtual meetings (Holmes and Stubbe, 2015).
Advantages and disadvantages of written forms of communication
Can be used to convey both formal and informal messages.
Notes and memos are not suitable for conveying confidential information.
Can be used to communicate with a large number of people for example websites, memos, social media, leaflets, brochures and newsletters.
Not suitable for acquiring immediate feedback.
Drawings, charts and graphs create a strong visual impression.
Some written forms are complex and require a lot of time to prepare such as graphs, drawings and tables.
Many forms are quick and straightforward to implement such as emails, personal notes and social media.
Other written forms are too complex to interpret such as databases, spreadsheets and symbols.
Brochures, leaflets and newsletters are costly to produce.
Advantages and disadvantages of oral forms of communication
One can acquire immediate feedback.
Oral communication cannot reach a large number of people as compared to written communication.
If properly implemented it can create a good and lasting impression of the organisation.
Leaves room for misinterpretation of information if the message is not relayed clearly.
Suitable for conveying confidential information.
Use of complicated language and procedures cause misunderstanding and confusion among the staff.
Suitable for both formal and informal situations.
They are cheap and less time consuming to implement than written forms.
Non-verbal communication can impact the effectiveness of oral communication both positively and negatively. When the body language, appearance, gestures and posture are in line with the verbal message being relayed, it can create a good impression to the listener. On the other hand, if gestures, posture or body language do not support the oral message being conveyed, the listener is left with a negative impression (Institute of Leadership, 2007)
Positive body language consists of having a relaxed posture, smiling when necessary, and use of the right facial expressions, implementing eye contact and being sensitive. When verbal communication is compatible with non-verbal communication, the message becomes more receivable and convincing. Professional behaviour is another non-verbal message that influences oral communication. All staff members ought to be calm and polite at work despite stressful work conditions. Such professionalism helps one gain respect and cooperation from the staff. All staff members are also required to practice good personal grooming whereby they should dress correctly, be presentable, neat and hygienic.
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