Opinions won’t always match. Staff won’t always share the same point of view. Miscommunication is inevitable.
In the workplace miscommunication can be blamed for a significant amount of conflict and the tension that it stirs. It would be unrealistic to think all miscommunication could be prevented, but if we understood its causes, the percentage could likely be decreased. Five common causes include:
1) Being unaware of nonverbal communication
A significant portion of miscommunication occurs without recognition. Through nonverbal cues, communication is often misconstrued and misrepresented. An individual’s facial expression and body language movement can be a powerful message that is delivered involuntarily. Recognize your message may be perceived different than originally intended. Take the time to accurately analyze yourself. Concentrate on your tone of voice, your eye contact and your body language.
2) Poor communication between employees and company management
For communication to be fluid between employees and management staff, communication must remain open, reachable and approachable. Ineffective communication begins to stir when employees feel as though their voices aren’t being heard. Have management check in with their staff members regularly. Hear their concerns and their successes. By having consistent conversations, potential problems can be avoided.
3) Not grasping the company’s global vision
What’s the big picture? The company president and those at the management level understand the company’s progression, but do all employees identify with the overall vision and growth process? This is a window that is sometimes overlooked, but expressing the global perspective of a company five, 10 and 15 years down the road allows employees to understand where they fit into the business strategy. Employees become more efficient and feel more valued when they can visually see their role in the puzzle of the company.
4) Making assumptions
Promote an environment of open communication where employees feel as though their questions and concerns are welcomed and accepted. Without this style of communication, employees often make assumptions because they don’t feel comfortable speaking up, and we know what happens when people act off assumptions alone.
5) Lack of ownership
Where is the accountability? An essential part of functionality is for all members to fully understand and be aware of the roles that are played. Without accountability, employees subconsciously become comfortable dumping duties and shifting their weight onto another’s plate, opening the door for future problems to transpire. The system of the company, as anticipated, will ultimately fail unless employees recognize that their role is not only important, but it is critical to the overall success of the organization.
CAI offers a number of programs to help improve communication in the workplace. For additional information please go to www.capital.org or call (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.
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