The Importance of Communication in the Workplace
Effective communication is essential for a successful organization. If there are frequent office-wide misunderstandings and colleagues are unwilling to talk through work issues, the company is likely to suffer as a result.
There are four types of communication that you should be aware of:
You have control over the words you use, but the meaning of those words may be interpreted differently by the person with whom you are speaking. Differences in age, experience, and background can result in differing interpretations of the same statement. The better you understand both your own style and the styles of others, the better you can adapt your own communication. Be careful when choosing your words to make sure that others understand them as you intend.
The way you say the words you speak also communicates meaning. Paraverbal communication includes how quickly one speaks and pauses, as well as voice tone and intensity. Paraverbal cues help you interpret the meaning of what someone is saying. Without these cues, you would be unable to interpret different speech forms, like sarcasm. Taking turns in conversation is also determined by paraverbal cues. When someone trails off or lowers their voice, that can be a sign it is the other party’s turn to speak. Like verbal communication, a mismatch of styles can make interpretation more difficult and understanding communication styles can enhance reception.
Your body language – like the way you stand, shake hands, and maintain eye contact – is a thing that communicates meaning to others. Body language can show attentiveness, emotions, and reactions. Facial expressions are a form of body language; your facial expressions can reveal your true response to what someone says – even before you formulate your response in words. Body language is also heavily influenced by your communication style. Preferences for eye contact, gesturing, and touch are usually quite pronounced, and it is easier to read another person’s body language message if you know his/her style.
The use of personal space includes not only the space between you and others, but also your personal appearance and how you arrange your workspace. Interpersonal distance, or how close people are physically to one another, has been studied extensively and researchers have outlined four zones of interpersonal distance: intimate, personal, social, and public. How close you prefer to be to others in all of these zones is a function of your communication style. Also where you are working in the word can indicate where you prefer your personal space to be; for example, Asian countries prefer more personal space while Latin American countries prefer less personal space. Whether your work or home space is cluttered or neat, organized or disorganized is also a function of your style and reflects your preference for your personal space.
All four forms of communication play a role in our ability to send messages to others. Verbal communication is the most easily controlled form, as you can specifically choose the words that you say, but it is important to think about how you use the other forms of communication and how others interpret your messages. It’s beneficial to understand these forms of communication as a receiver of messages in order to better understand the sender’s intent and motivations. Reading a person’s communication style and social cues is extremely important both in personal relationships and in business.
There are four communication “styles” that suit everyone. Knowing your communication style is important to allow you to be able to communicate effectively with others. The styles are:
- Direct. Direct people take charge. They prefer to be in control and are decisive in their actions. Direct people thrive on competition and enjoy the challenge of a fight, but enjoy the win even more. They maintain a fast pace as they work single-mindedly on your goals. Direct people are good in positions of authority that require independence. Direct people possess strong leadership skills and get things done. They are not afraid to take risks to get what you want.
- Spirited. Spirited people are enthusiastic and friendly. They prefer to be around others and they thrive in the spotlight. They are able to generate motivation and excitement in others because of their positive focus and lively nature. Spirited people work at a fast pace because they prefer stimulation, and they are well suited to high-profile positions in which public presentations are important. They are also spontaneous people who are quick to make a decision and take decisive action. They excel at building alliances and teams and using relationships to accomplish work.
- Considerate. Considerate people are warm and they value personal relationships. They have good counseling skills, and others come to them because you are a good listener. Considerate people are cooperative and enjoy being part of a team. They are reliable and steady, and are always aware of others’ feelings. They work best in an environment in which teamwork is essential and are well suited for any profession that requires them to care for others.
- Systematic. Systematic people are accurate and objective. They prefer to make decisions based on facts, not emotions. Systematic people rely on data and they are excellent problem solvers. They tend to be persistent in your analyses, maintaining a critical focus throughout their work. Systematic people are orderly and prefer to work in an organized environment with clear guidelines. Systematic people thrive in task-oriented positions that require independent work
The importance of proper communication cannot be overstated. Using your knowledge of your communication style will greatly help you with your team. There are many additional ways to improve workplace communications, which will result in a better operating workforce. Some ways to improve communications include:
- Developing a Communication Strategy. Define a set process for communicating and corresponding, and include contingency plans for if and when issues arise.
- Creating a Communication Process. Utilize enewsletters or social channels to communicate with the team about tasks and updates.
- Having Weekly or Monthly 1-on-1s. Check in regularly with employees to ensure projects are going as planned. Review goals and meet frequently to develop a better working relationship.
- Hosting Regular Team Meetings. Gather staff to share team projects and plans, provide updates on company news, and answer questions. Allow employees to share their own comments.
- Encouraging a Feedback Process. Provide employees with a forum where they can give and receive feedback, as well as offering a 360-degree review where they can provide their manager with feedback as well.
While these tips will help with improving communications overall, sometimes a more thorough approach is needed. “What’s My Communication Style?” can help employees identify their own preference for one of four communication styles (Direct, Considerate, Systematic, Spirited), uncover the characteristics of each style and discover how style affects communication.
Course participants will learn how to "speed read" a person's communication style and understand how to "flex" their style for effective communication with others. These methods will greatly improve the communication in the workplace, which will then lead to more success for both the team and the organization as a whole.
Learn more about how “What’s My Communication Style?” can help your team here: https://www.hrdqstore.com/whats-my-communication-style