Communication—that giant five syllable word affects us all so significantly every day. We communicate daily to our family and friends, strangers and of course, our colleagues, clients and customers. We typically think of communication as a verbal act upon which words are spoken, however communication can be categorized into three basic types:
(1) Verbal communication, in which you listen to a person to understand their meaning. An example is speaking to a co-worker about a project you are working on together.
(2) Nonverbal communication, in which you observe a person and infer meaning. This includes the observation of eye contact, facial expressions and body language.
(3) Written communication, in which you read their meaning, including acts like writing a report or sending an email.
How does communication affect our working relationships? Unfortunately, often it can have a negative effect if we don’t take some simple steps into consideration. It is imperative we learn to professionally and effectively communicate to one another.
Communication is important in a workplace setting because people must interact with one another in ways that will get the job done efficiently and effectively. According to the Communication ROI Study Report conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, companies that have highly effective internal communications had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared to companies with the least effective internal communications.
Communication is an essential skill for the workplace. Open communication eliminates misconceptions and negative feelings within the organization and makes room for more creativity, synergy and fun. Employees are more likely to collaborate and share ideas with others if the workplace fosters cross-functional communication.
According to James Humes’ Good Leaders, Good Communicators, It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. There are many things that can shape our communication style, including culture, personality and social media, and it is important to keep in mind how you will be perceived in all avenues.
As a manager or leader of your organization, here are a few professional communication tips to consider:
- Repeat, repeat, repeat! Research shows that many of us need to hear a message several times before we “get it.”
- Be approachable. The more approachable you are and the more you foster open communication (remove barriers), the more employees are likely to speak up and open up.
- Encourage suggestions, and give and ask for constructive feedback.
- Listen, and then check for understanding by repeating or paraphrasing what you heard.
Because we communicate extensively on a daily basis, we are bound to have a misunderstanding from time to time, but if we take the time to properly consider all of our communications, it will allow us to foster better working relationships.
Katrina Dietrich is the HR Consulting Manager at MCM CPAs & Advisors. Prior to joining MCM, Katrina developed a strong general HR background, gaining expertise in employee relations, recruitment, mentoring, training and development, in particular within the manufacturing and healthcare sectors.
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