Improving communication in the workplace – part 2
Here we describe 10 main barriers to Effective Business Communication and ask you to think about how you could improve them..
1. Not Listening
One of the most common barriers to communication is poor listening skills. So why does not listening happen? Well there are a few reasons. You may have no involvement or concern with the topic, therefore you will then have no desire to take part in the conversation. There also may be distractions, for example working in an area that is loud and noisy.
How can you make your office environment less distracting?
Listening is not the same as hearing; learn to listen not only to the words being spoken but how they are being spoken and the non-verbal messages sent with them. Try not to think about what to say next whist listening; instead clear your mind and focus on the message being received. Your friends, colleagues and other acquaintances will appreciate good listening skills.
2. Making Assumptions
How many times have you made a decision based on assuming something will happen? Only to find out that it didn’t go as planned. We all know that we shouldn’t make assumptions. But we still do it anyway.
Assumptions are made to cut corners and save time by ignoring the path of communication. The major problem with making assumptions is that 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t work out. Also by making assumption you will likely miss out on key information.
Do you make assumptions? Next time you have a discussion, try to keep an open mind and wait for all the information.
3. Body language
Non verbal signals have the potential to block effective communication in the workplace. Negative body language like waving your hands, raising your arms in discuss and even shaking your head will send negative messages. It is all about interpretation. The impacts of these traits can affect workplace relationships and your willingness to take part in communicating. The best action a leader can take is to understand your own body language.
Think about your body language next time you are in a meeting and see how you can keep it positive.
4. Ineffective questions
Quite often people ask questions that lack details. The whole point of asking questions in the first place, is to confirm what has been communicated or for clarification. Asking the right types of questions will provide effective communication in the workplace. Make sure you use open ended questions to get the proper answers you seek. This type of question includes details like who, what, where, when and how.
Next time you want to ask a question in a meeting, think before you speak to see whether the question is an open one.
5. Information overload
Many times effective communication in the workplace is blocked by the overwhelming amount of information. How many times have you seen the same email covering the same information just from a different sender. What ends up happening is that many employees start to ignore those emails. The problem is that some of the emails will have prominent details that were not included in the original.
Next time you send an email to a group of people, re-read it before you send it, if it seems long, then re-write it.
6. Emotional Distractions
Emotions play a big role in how we approach and accomplish things. Outside factors like a death or illness can keep your mind out of focus.
If you have had an emotional upset and you have to go into a meeting, take a few minutes out to clear your mind so you can think straight. If you can’t do this, then re-schedule the meeting if you can.
Be sympathetic to other people’s misfortunes and congratulate their positive landmarks. To do this you need to be aware of what is going on in other people’s lives. Make and maintain eye contact and use first names where appropriate. Do not be afraid to ask others for their opinions as this will help to make them feel valued. Consider the emotional effect of what you are saying and communicate within the norms of behaviour acceptable to the other person.
There has always been one consistent with communication in the workplace. That one consistent is called a perception barrier. The main problem with perception is that we all look at the world differently. One way to avoid perception barriers is to remember there are other views points and opinions. Also keep your mind open to new ideas and approaches from these view points. You never know when there’s a good idea on the horizon.
Keep an open mind before you react to someone’s ideas. Empathy is trying to see things from the point-of-view of others. When communicating with others, try not to be judgemental or biased by preconceived ideas or beliefs – instead view situations and responses from the other person’s perspective.
Dealing with different cultures can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Many times it’s a difference in approach or a process of doing things. All cultures have different beliefs and customs. They often can clash and build up walls that negatively affect the communication process.
If you are dealing with someone of a very different culture, take some time to find out about that culture before you work with them. If you can get off to a good start, then you can build rapport more quickly. If appropriate, offer your personal viewpoint clearly and honestly to avoid confusion. Bear in mind that some subjects might be taboo or too emotionally stressful for others to discuss.
Differences in languages that are spoken in the workplace can affect your ability to communicate. Words can be misunderstood and misconstrued that in turn can cause negative communication barriers.
Remember to confirm understanding of a word or sentence before you react to it.
10. Workplace Stress
Dealing with stress in this day and age is a 24/7 activity. It shouldn’t be a surprise of its strong affect on the communication in the workplace. The results of stress on employees can range from change in attitudes, lack of focus and giving up. These issues can lead to missing deadlines, decreased productivity and weakened communication between employees.
Keep a positive mind-set, take regular time out, take time to relax and learn to say no when you are over-loaded.
Communication in the workplace will always be a work in progress. There will be a lot of adjustments in the process until it reaches effectiveness. Remove the barriers that block the process and you will improve employee motivation. With a two way avenue of information flowing, you will find solutions more easily. With an open path of communication, feedback from employees will help in determining solutions.