Communication seems so simple yet so many of us struggle with it. Most people use some basic level of communication skills everyday to get through their daily routine. In the workplace, effective communication skills are crucial. However, the reality is that a lot of the communication exchange that takes place is ineffective.
According to John Thill et al in the book Excellence in Business Communication, “Communication is the process of transferring information from a sender to a receiver. Communication is a dynamic, transactional, or two-way, process.”
In order to ensure that the message is interpreted in the way it is intended, it is crucial to formulate it in a way that the receiver will understand. An excellent way to do this is to be clear, relatable, factual, and succinct. And of course, the message still needs to be understood. Feedback is important in understanding whether or not the message was received correctly.
According to Excellence in Business Communication, some common barriers to communication tend to obscure the intended message of the sender. These include distractions which may be due to multitasking, the environment of the receiver, as well as their thoughts and emotions. You may also be competing with other messages that are trying to reach your audience at the same time.
Perceptual and language differences are key contributing factors of misunderstandings because we may sometimes extract a different meaning from messages that are in alignment with our life experiences and cultural background.
According to Excellence in Business Communication, in large companies with tall hierarchies, there is often a significant loss of message quality between the various organizational levels. The original message that was sent from bottom to top or vice versa may be a completely different version from what was delivered.
The lack of effective communication is a major source of conflict. According to an article titled Workplace Conflicts? 5 Tips to Improve Communication published on the website Business News Daily, “Workplace conflict is often the result of poor communication.”
It is very easy to have a conflict-ridden environment when the communicating parties are being misunderstood. Such challenges can be tackled by improving your basic communication skills, reducing distractions, and giving only constructive criticism.
Another article titled Lack of communication is the main source of conflict published on the website Motive also emphasizes how easily conflicts arise from lack of communication. The author writes about a scenario where a company was in the process of implementing a team-based organization. However, a lack of trust had led to a lack of communication. In this particular case, the manager wasn’t communicating with the CEO. Because the manager and the CEO didn’t have understanding or trust, management initiatives were in jeopardy. Eventually, the issue was resolved when the manager opened up and trust was built between the two of them.
As the author says, “Communication is not only words. Our body language and tone of voice work as amplifiers for our words. Even when you’re not saying anything you’re not silent. But if you’re wearing armor, you don’t give others much chance to understand you. And if they fail to understand you, how can they trust you?”
Good communication is necessary to progress in your professional life. You can have healthier professional relationships as the levels of misunderstanding and destructive conflicts are being drastically reduced.