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Good communication skills are critical to job placement, performance, career advancement and organizational success. Communication is the heart and soul of motivating employees. Employees are demotivated when they are unsure of expectations and priorities. They're motivated when they are provided with clear expectations, instructions, information, and time frames, creating within the employees a sense of security, respect, power, and control in their jobs.
Employees are also motivated by communicating encouragement during the process as well as acknowledgement and appreciation upon achievement of outcomes.
Listening to superiors involves hearing instructions, assignments, and explanations of work procedures. Good listening techniques include taking notes, not interrupting, and paraphrasing.
Listening to colleagues and teammates involves critical listening and discriminative listening. Critical listening enables listener to judge and evaluate what is being heard.
Discriminative listening is necessary when listener must understand and remember. It involves identifying main ideas, understanding a logical argument, and recognizing the purpose of a message.
Listening to customers will help to improve sales and profitability.
You may also want to ask students to recount examples of experiences when they felt they were not being listened to, and ask them to share with the class the impact of this on themselves and others.
Bypassing happens when people miss each other with their meaning. The receiver and sender must attach the same symbolic meanings to their words.
Differing frames of reference - Everything you see and feel in the world is translated through your individual frame of reference, which is formed by a combination of your experiences, education, culture, expectations, personality, and other elements.
Each individual needs an adequate vocabulary, a command of basic punctuation and grammar, and skill in written and oral expression.
Communication is difficult when feeling joy, fear, resentment, hostility, sadness, or other strong emotions. Physical distractions such as noisy surroundings and poor cell phone connections can also disrupt oral communication. Poor printing, sloppy appearance, careless formatting and typographical errors can disrupt messages.
There are also a wide variety of barriers to the flow of information:
Lack of trust, turf wars, fear of reprisal
Uneven reward systems
Closed communication climate
Top-heavy organizational structure
Filtering, prejudice, ego involvement
Poor communication skills
We ignore, forget, distort, or misunderstand 75% of everything we hear
Most people lack listening training
In the workplace we are often challenged by competing sounds
In addition to this we process speech much faster than people speak, resulting in lag time or daydreaming
On top of all these poor listening habits, we often allow our ability to actively listen to be blocked by the following:
Daydreaming is allowing your attention to wander to other events or people. It is a time when you stop listening and drift away into your own fantasies.
Rehearsing is when you are busy thinking about what you are going to say next, so that you never completely hear what the other person is telling you.
Filtering is when you listen to certain parts of the conversation, but not all.
Judging is when you have stopped listening to the other person because you have already judged, placed labels, made assumptions about, or stereotyped the other person.
Distraction occurs when your attention is divided by something internal to you (headaches, worry, hunger) or external to you (traffic, whispering, others talking).
Frame of reference
To overcome barriers that cause misunderstandings, communicators must anticipate problems in encoding, transmitting, and decoding.
Effective communicators also focus on the receiver's environment and frame of reference.
Misunderstandings are less likely if ideas are arranged logically and words are used precisely.
In oral communication, this means asking questions, paraphrasing instructions or ideas, and providing feedback that describes rather than evaluates.
Block out surrounding physical distractions. Try to focus on the speaker. Postpone any serious listening when emotionally charged.
Show you are listening by leaning forward and maintaining eye contact with the speaker. Listen to the words and how they are spoken. Pay attention to the speaker's body language.
Separate facts from opinions. Facts are known truths and can be proven. Opinions are statements of personal judgments or preferences.
Select what's important and register it mentally.
Let the speaker have his/her say. Interruptions are not only impolite, but they also prevent you from hearing the speaker's complete thought. Interruptions can sidetrack discussions and cause hard feelings.
Wait for the proper time and then ask questions that do not attack the speaker. Use open-ended questions (without set answers like yes or no) to draw out feelings, motivations, ideas, and suggestions. Use closed-ended questions to identify key facts in the discussion.
Summarize a message in your own words to confirm your understanding. Be objective and nonjudgmental when doing so.
Use the time while waiting for the speaker's next idea to review what the speaker is saying. Separate the central idea, key points, and details. Use lag time to silently rephrase and summarize the speaker's message.
Make notes as soon as possible after a conversation . Don't rely on your memory. Jot points down to ease the mind and to be sure they are correctly understood.
Be aware that men tend to listen to facts. Women tend to perceive listening as an opportunity to connect with the other person on a personal level. Men generally interrupt to control a conversation while women tend to interrupt to communicate, to elaborate on another's idea, or to participate in conversation.
Women are attentive listeners providing good eye contact, head nodding. Men are less attentive and provide sporadic eye contact, and move around.
Nonverbal messages amplify, modify, and provide details for a verbal message. Example - using figures to describe or show size of a cellphone
Skilled speakers raise their voices to convey important information, but whisper to suggest secrecy. A smile signifies good news.
Many gestures substitute for words; examples - nodding your head for yes, giving a V for victory, making a thumbs-up sign for approval
Shifts in eye contact, slight head movements, changes in posture, raising eye brows, nodding of the head are all reader cues which tell the speakers when to continue, to repeat, to elaborate, to hurry up, or to finish.
To be sarcastic, a speaker might hold his/her nose while stating that a new perfume is wonderful.
Being on time sends a positive nonverbal message in North American workplaces.
The way an office is arranged can send nonverbal messages about the openness of its occupant. The more formal the arrangement, the more formal and closed the communication environment tends to be.
People have a certain area that they feel is their own territory. Everyone maintains zones of privacy. Think about how uncomfortable we are when someone stands to close to us when we use a banking machine.
Documents that have errors, are incorrectly formatted, or have been printed on poor quality paper or using a poor quality printer send negative nonverbal messages.
People judge a person's status, credibility, personality, and potential on the nonverbal message sent by that person's appearance.
The first step in reaching a solution is pinpointing the problem.
The second step looks at possible causes and solutions, which may mean checking files, calling suppliers, or brainstorming with fellow workers.
Once the information has been researched, it is important to evaluate it to identify any potential biases, inaccuracies.
This is followed by weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives being considered. This step requires creativity.
Lastly, the best alternative is selected and tested to ensure effectiveness over time.
Make Time To Listen To Others' Contributions
Sometimes the desire of the leader to look smart means they don't spend enough time listening.
Give Ownership To People
Whether that is of projects or tasks, allow them to find the best way of delivering what is required.
Acknowledge Others' Expertise
You need to do what you do best and have others doing what they do best. Avoid trying to be jack of all trades and master of none.
Create A Climate Of Trust
This is at the heart of collaboration on teams.
Be The First To Trust
In other words, take the lead in trusting others.
Don't Hog Information……
……in the false belief that the more power you have the more successful you will be.
The Bottom Line: Collaboration will always result in bigger and better results than competition.
Some signs and symptoms of excessive job and workplace stress include:
Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
Apathy, loss of interest in work
Muscle tension or headaches
Using alcohol or drugs to cope
Do you have any personal strategies for managing stress?