The Components of Effective Workplace Communication
Workplace communication impacts all areas of a business, from interpersonal relationships to productivity to the company culture. Effective communication ensures that messages are relayed clearly and efficiently to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Effective communication in the workplace can take practice and development, especially in large office environments with many different personalities and communication styles. In this article, we will discuss the different components of communication and how you can practice effective communication in your workplace.
What is workplace communication?
Workplace communication is the process of exchanging information within a work environment. Effective workplace communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is required for organizational objectives to be achieved. Open workplace communication improves productivity, increases the speed and likelihood of goals being achieved and typically ensures a great company culture.
The components of communication
The communication process is impacted by several variables, both internal and external. They include the:
Context refers to the circumstances that form the setting for a statement or idea. For example, the context can include the individual’s culture, the organization and even the country in which the communication takes place. Context also includes external stimuli, such as your opinions, attitude, emotions, likes and dislikes, experience, education and even your level of confidence. Together, these many external stimuli influence the way that people communicate information and ideas.
Also known as the encoder, this is the person who is sharing the message. They use words, pictures, graphs and symbols to convey the message in a way that will be best received by the person they are communicating with.
In a workplace, you are the sender when you give a presentation in a room full of people, speak with a coworker, engage over live chat with a customer or send an email to your manager.
Also referred to as the message, this is the information that is shared during the exchange between the sender and receiver. To decide what to communicate, the sender must identify the main points they want to get across. The central point of the message or idea must be clear and the sender must keep in mind how the other person will receive the message. This is especially important in written communication, where messages can be misinterpreted with no additional information such as body language, facial expressions and tone of voice.
Encoding refers to the use of words, pictures or actions while sharing a message. The encoding could be the text you use when writing the idea you have in an email. It could be any symbols you use, such as exclamation points, question marks or even emoji symbols, to emphasize your point. It could also be a photo you send to illustrate a point or explain an idea.
In a workplace, encoding could refer to the PowerPoint slides you use when delivering your presentation, including any photos or graphics that are embedded in the slides. It could be a meme you use when emailing a coworker or simply a question mark at the end of a sentence during a live chat to indicate that you are looking for a response.
Medium is how the message is transmitted. You could use print, electronic or sound. The choice of medium is often influenced by the relationship between the sender and receiver and typically impacts how well the message is received and understood. When you are sharing a message that is urgent or personal, doing so verbally may be the best choice. On the other hand, if the idea is highly technical or needs to be documented, it’s often best to use a written medium, whether it’s print or electronic, so you have a copy.
This refers to the person who’s receiving the message. They are also influenced by the context, the internal and external stimuli of their environments and background. This person must interpret the message, which means it will be funneled through their own personality, perceptions, opinions and attitudes.
This refers to the response the receiver gives the sender. It is generally a written or verbal message although silence is also feedback. This is one of the most important components of communication, as it clarifies whether the message was accurately received and completes the loop of communication.
Types of Communication
Use a strong, confident speaking voice.
Use active listening.
Avoid filler words.
Avoid industry jargon when appropriate.
Notice how your emotions feel physically.
Be intentional about your nonverbal communications.
Mimic nonverbal communications you find effective.
Ask others before including visuals.
Consider your audience.
Only use visuals if they add value.
Make them clear and easy to understand.
Strive for simplicity.
Don’t rely on tone.
Take time to review your written communications.
Keep a file of writing you find effective or enjoyable.
How to communicate effectively at work
Here are some tips to help you improve your communication at work.
Practice active listening.
Consider communication preference.
Use constructive criticism.
Practice active listening
Practice giving the person you are talking to your undivided attention. If appropriate, follow up with clarifying questions, use paraphrasing or summarize their thoughts back to them before responding to ensure you fully understand what they’re communicating. This will also assure them you were listening and that you value their ideas.
A person’s body language, eye contact and gestures can usually indicate what they’re thinking and feeling. Observe the person you’re speaking to as they talk and watch for non-verbals that could be communicating a message that’s different than what’s being said.
Take communication preference into consideration
Everyone communicates differently. Some prefer being face-to-face while others like to exchange emails so they can read and respond when it fits their schedule. If possible, communicate your preferences and choose methods that are in line with your sender’s preferences too.
Use constructive criticism
Always keep criticism constructive and, when a coworker or an employee who you supervise uses communication effectively, use positive reinforcement. When you give constructive criticism, be direct, to the point and free from emotion.
For example, if you notice that a coworker frequently sends lengthy emails that are challenging to interpret, offer them constructive advice on how to more effectively communicate the message. Schedule a face-to-face meeting to have the conversation in person, if needed.
Communication is a skill that can be improved upon and effective communication must be practiced. Observe how people respond to your communication and ask trusted team members for honest feedback to identify areas where you can improve.
Consider asking a coworker if an email you sent was clear or if they were ways you could improve it. If you have recently delivered a presentation, ask a coworker or even your manager for constructive feedback so you can keep improving your skills.
Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.
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