We hear the word ‘communication’ a lot, especially in a workplace context, but what exactly does it mean? And, what does positive and effective communication look like?
If you want a communication definition in terms of a workplace setting, Wikipedia has a good suggestion:
“Workplace communication is the process of exchanging information and ideas, both verbal and non-verbal between one person/group and another person/group within an organisation”.
This of course includes emails, messages, notes, and anything else which transmits information from one person to another. It doesn’t always have to be verbal or in person. Effective communication skills are needed within a contemporary office environment simply because without them, you’re going to head towards disaster. When people don’t communicate clearly and effectively, you run the risk of misunderstandings, mistakes, and conflicts. None of those things are useful in a working situation!
What Does High Quality Workplace Communication Look Like?
Written communication can be seen, i.e. you can see and read an email, but overall communication is something that can’t really be measured in terms of effectiveness because it’s generally invisible, at least verbal communication anyway.
That makes it very hard to really pinpoint what effective communication looks like. What you can tell however, is the effects of it. For instance, good communication:
- Ensures the easy transmission of correct information from person to person without misunderstandings or mistakes
- Goes a long way to reducing the chances of conflict, because people don’t misunderstand each other and they know what the person is trying to say to them exactly
- Gives accurate information to customers and clients, reducing the need for follow up questions
- Boosts morale because people know exactly what is going on at any given time and their is no confusion around the office.
As you can see, quality communication basically makes life easier and ensures that your day at your office desk will run much smoother than otherwise.
Written communication skills are often put into a separate category of their own. Anyone who regularly sends emails, notes, letters, and any other type of written communication needs to ensure that they re-read anything they’ve crated before sending it, and that they don’t use language or phrases that could be misunderstood. It’s extremely easy for someone to read a paragraph you’ve written and to take it to mean something completely different to what you intended. Clarity is key!
The bottom line is that an office without clear communication is not going to do very well. There will be conflicts aplenty, mistakes always happening, and customers will be the ones who suffer as a result. Always having to ‘mop up’ messes and clarify misunderstandings is time consuming and it will do nothing for the word of mouth marketing your business receives.
Communication really is the basic need for any business but you would be surprised how much work is to be done in many areas. Perhaps it’s time we all became accountable for our own communication skill quality, asking ourselves honestly whether we need to improve and whether we need to focus on listening more than speaking.