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Effective Communication is a conversation in which people either a speaker or a listener use proper communication skills. People share thoughts with each other and make sure they understand the meaning of the other. But if communication flow is not effective, the conversation might lead to miscommunications or most likely, arguments. Moreover, effective communication can also be a conversation in which two people both enjoy the conversation and learn something. For better clarification and to remove any ambiguities between each party, people need to ask questions and answer informatively.
Some characteristics of effective communication in a workplace are described below:
Motivates and Builds Trust
In an organisation, employees would always feel motivated if the management communicates about any changes in the working strategy or the company policies. This is a method to boost the employees' morale and to build trust and confidence between the management and the employees. It allows everyone to know what's going on and what they need to work towards as a team.
Excellent Working Relationship
One of the most important benefits of workplace communication is to establish and hold good working relations with peers, subordinates, and seniors as well. Good working relations at the workplace ensure a friendly and conflict-free working environment. There will be no room for difference of interests and any sort of confusion whatsoever.
No workplace is ever free of conflicts, contradictions, and problems between the employees. However, communicating with colleagues and seniors about the issues help to solve the problems and thus prevents them from further aggravation. Festering of problems inside only leads to bigger conflicts and problems later on and which may adversely affect the organisation in some way or the other.
Healthy from Business Point of View
Another importance of effective communication is communicating with the employees about any changes, amendments in the rules, regulations, policies, or work rules; helps in getting a better idea of things, and implementation of the work becomes easy. This further increases productivity and accuracy, minimizing wastage of resources and time.
The communication cycle
The communication cycle can be described as the transmission of the sender's ideas to the receiver and the receiver's feedback or reaction to the sender.
The main steps are included in the example:
Input: the information or ideas the sender wants to give the receiver.
Channel: letter, fax, phone call, electronic mail, etc.
Message: the actual message that is sent.
Output : the information the receiver gets
Feedback : the receiver's response (or non-response) to the message
Brain drain : the possibility of misunderstanding at any step (or Breakdown)
This process is illustrated with the diagram:
An example of the communication process:
Input: I want to know the profits of the organisation for last year 2011.
Message: Please, kindly send me a statement of all the sales and cost of overheads during the year 2011
Output: He needs a statement of all sales and overheads of year 2011.
Feedback: A statement is issued.
If the action desired in the message is satisfactorily performed or the information is faithfully received (ensured by the feedback), we say the communication loop has been closed. But breakdowns in the communication cycle are quite frequent. The breakdown may be due to one or more of the following:
Improper formulation of the message in the mind of the sender
Improper statement of the information in the message
Improper statement of the message by the receiver
What are the barriers to effective communication?
In any organisation, barriers in effective communication occur. This is because the message intended by the sender is not understood by the receiver in the same terms and sense, thus creating a communication breakdown.
Some barriers of communication are listed below:
Filtering is the manipulation of information deliberately for our own favourable purpose. For ex: telling the manager what he wants to hear.
Emotions can influence our interpretation when receiving a message from someone. We become irrational and our objective process will be dismissed. For ex: anger, sadness, fear, mistrust and suspicion
Defensiveness happens when someone always thinks that he is being threatened at work. The latter may react badly and start becoming aggressive by abusing co-workers. For ex: Someone misinterprets a joke made by a co-worker and thinks that the latter is making fun of him.
The main problem with perception is that we all look at the world differently. One way to avoid perceptional barriers is to remember there are other views points and opinions. A co-worker needs to keep his mind open to new ideas and approaches from these view points. He will never know whenever there's a good idea on the horizon. Moreover, selective perception happens when someone selectively interpret what they see and hear on the basis of the background, experience, and other personal attitudes. When decoding a message, the receiver projects his own interests and expectations. Fact is that they don't see reality but rather interprets what they see to reality. This barrier occurs mainly in interviews.
Language is a very complex thing, and communication between people speaking different languages is difficult. Language is a way of looking at the world, and even skilled translators can find it tricky to convey complex emotions and concepts, which can lead to misunderstandings. Language is directly related to effective communication. Technical words (Jargons) may not be understandable to everyone. For ex: The word 'advice' is used to ask for someone's opinion. But immigrants, not used to English words may interpret it as to give his opinion to someone, confusing the word with 'advise'
Gender barriers arises because men and women, they both have a different way of communicating. Each one feels uncomfortable while talking to the other because of the basic differences in communication styles. For example: A woman on average speaks around 25000 words a day while this number is around 7000 for a man. This shows that men are more precise while women like details and when the two communicate, they will get bored.
Secondly, the speaking function of the brain in a man is on the left side but in a woman it is located in both left and right hemispheres of the brain. This means that women link logic and emotions while talking and men mainly try to relate to logic. As a result of this men will not be able to understand what women have to say and vice versa.
Dealing with different cultures can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Many times it is of difference in approach or a process of doing things. All cultures have different beliefs and customs. They often can clash and build up walls that negatively affect the communication process.
How to overcome the barriers of communication?
Overcoming the barriers is essential for the future performance of an organisation. It is important to deal and cope up with these communication barriers so as to ensure smooth and effective communication.
Some ways to overcome the barriers of communication listed above and some more are listed below:
Feedback should be in the form of constructive feedback rather than negative feedback. Constructive feedback will lead to effective communication between the superior and subordinate.
Integrity and honesty
Someone needs to be honest and trustworthy at work. If the latter is seen as being someone who lacks integrity, this will immediately be noticed and further barriers will built up.
Someone needs to make use of their body language and emotions effectively to avoid any misinterpretation of the message being delivered. For ex: if the conveyer of the message is in a bad mood then the receiver might think that the information being delivered is not good.
Recognize the receiver's personal factors
To overcome the preconceived perception of the receiver, the communicator must try to anticipate the factors that will influence the symbolic interpretation or decoding of the message. For this purpose, the communicator must be; for ex: if the receiver is sceptic about the sender, this scepticism must be taken into consideration while transmitting any message. The communicator must try to remove the scepticism from the receiver's mind. This may take more than one trustworthy message to modify such behaviour of the receiver
Simplify language and words
Someone needs to use simple, clear, understandable and adequate their language and words depending to the people they are talking to. Difficult and technical words can distort and confuse the listener
Listen attentively and carefully. There is a difference between "listening" and "hearing". Active listening means hearing with proper understanding of the message that is heard. By asking questions the speaker can ensure whether his/her message is understood or not by the receiver in the same terms as intended by the speaker.
Practice of communication skills
So as to reduce the problems of gender barrier between men and women in an organisation, they will have to improve or acquire more communication skills. This will allow better and easier comprehension and understanding between each other. It can be achieved through the use of clear language, attentive listening and practice.
What are written and oral communications and their uses?
Written communication is the sending and receiving of messages through the written word. It is not only a major media of communication but for some specific business purposes it is the only means of communication.
Some written methods of communication in a workplace include:
Business letters and reports
One method of written communication is through the use of business letters. It is basically anything related to a business such as soliciting an order, checking on a reference or communicating with a client and reports are usually statistical in nature or are used for planning within an organisation.
Manuals and minutes
Another method is through the use of manuals. They are used by an organisation as a means of having written records of established practices such as instructions on how to undertake specific tasks and work policies. A manual will help new employees to understand key procedures and approaches and then put these into practice in their daily work. Also, minutes are basically a written record of key information or occurrence within a meeting. They will typically include any significant decisions or agreements and provide a useful summary of key issues or points raised within any discussions.
E-mails, memoranda and circulars
Nowadays, all business organisations make use of emails. It has become the main form or written communication through the years. This is mainly because; emails are quick and inexpensive to pass on messages within a single click to both groups of recipients as well as to individuals. The memoranda are used in internal communication as a means of sharing key information with employees. This form of written communication is utilised to summarise or initiate action. And last but not least, circulars include various notices or information relating to welfare and safety issues. This approach is used to inform the employees of forthcoming events such as mufti-days, work socials or presentations.
Whereas oral communication is the sending and receiving of messages using spoken, verbal words, such as in interpersonal interactions or speeches. Without oral communication, any organization will become just lifeless. Oral communication is of two types; formal and informal. In a business organization there are ample opportunities for both formal and informal oral communication. But, in fact, a lot more time is spent in informal oral communication. The simple reason is that communication is essentially conversational in nature and has a social purpose. Formal oral communication does also take place in an organisation. Very often people in business have to make formal presentations before a group that may be large or small. At other times they have to participate in meetings and group discussions. Time to time they have to appear for or conduct interviews. All these are formal kinds of oral communication. In this way, both formal and informal types of oral communication thrive together.
Some methods of oral communication in a workplace are described below:
Face to face communication
Face to face communication is the exchange of information, thoughts, and feelings when everyone is in the same physical contact. We use face to face communication mainly because through interaction, we create bound of trust and loyalty. The human brain relies on the instinct to assess danger, honesty and integrity. Also, there is also an exchange of palpable physical energy that takes place when there are many people in the same room. Examples are: interviews, meetings and conferences
Speeches and Presentations:
Speeches and presentations are other good examples of methods of oral communication. A speech is the stand-up, podium speech delivered by an individual from an outline or script. And group enables dialogue to be built in with question and answer or discussion with the audience afterward.
Signal is a device to indicate that a person is needed. Examples are: buzzer, phone call or bell
A recorder is an apparatus for recording sound, pictures, or data. It can be used to record a conference and be watched later on by someone who wasn't able to attend it.
An intercom is an electronic communication system used to connect to a central control device. It consists of a fixed microphone and speaker. Whenever a secretary needs to communicate with his manager, she can make use of the intercom.
Telephones and cellular phones
Nowadays, everyone has a mobile phone or have access to a telephone line. It has become one of the most used methods of oral communication through the decencies and it will still be in the future.
The use of both written and oral communication in any organisation brings on benefits but also drawbacks at the same time in an organisation. They are described as follows:
What are the advantages of written communication in an organisation?
Permanent record and legal acceptance
Written communication generally services as a documentary evidence. Previous records can be used for future references. As written communication kept as permanent record it has legal acceptance in eye of law.
Written communication is clear and effective measure for control.
In comprise to oral communication, the scope of written communication is much larger. A firm can send written messages all over the world.
Assignment of responsibility
Through written directions it is easier to assign responsibilities to subordinates.
Usually written communications are made in a systematic manner and with lot of care, thus making documents more accurate
What are the disadvantages of written communication in an organisation?
Ineffectiveness of written documents
Written communication runs the risk of becoming ineffective in the hands of people good in their job but poor in expression. This is the reason why it has become a serious concern of almost all modern organization to recruit people who are very good in expression, especially in letter and report writing ability.
Written communication is a costly process. It costs a lot in terms of stationery and the number of people involved in typing and sending out letters.
No immediate feedback
Written communication is mostly handicapped by its inability to get immediate feedback. When sending a message, both the encoding and the transmission of the message takes time, resulting in immediate delays. It is, therefore, a time-consuming process.
No immediate clarification
Another disadvantage of written communication is that, immediate clarification is not possible. If the receiver of a written message at a distance seeks some clarification, he cannot have it as quickly as he would like to. He will have to write pack and wait for the reply to his query.
Documents occupies space and those important ones are lost
Written communication creates mountains of paper cluttered around the premises of the organization. It is common sight in offices and the staffs has tough time trying to handle it. Valuable papers are even often lost. So the managers need to be extra careful to keep sensitive material in his own custody
What are the advantages of Oral Communication in an organisation?
Oral communication best suit situations when time is of importance. This is especially true where split second decisions have to be made in an organisation.
Face to face
When two people are communicating, a face to face communication is a lot more appropriate and personal way of communicating.
Oral communication can be recorded
With the advances in electronic and communication devices, an oral communication can be recorded either as a voice message or as a video recording. This communication can be used from time to time in different places.
Oral communication does not require writing skills
Written communication needs the person who is communicating to have language skills and also writing skills as well as it will be a record of communication. In oral communication, the person does not need any formal skills to get the message across to the people who are receiving the communication.
Oral communication can be on the spot
In oral communication, there is no need of papers and pens and it can be on spot. It can be spontaneous compared to written communication.
What are the disadvantages of using oral communication in an organisation?
Oral messages cannot be retained for a long time
Oral messages must be acted upon immediately. They cannot be found in record books and we cannot refer back to them. This is a serious limitation of oral communication. For ex: An audience is more likely to forget 80% of the information while retaining only 20%, thus making a speaker's task very difficult.
Oral messages is legally not valid
In the absence of a taped or written record, oral messages do not have any legal validity.
Oral messages may be misunderstood
Oral communication can lead to misunderstanding. For ex: If the manager has not carefully organized his thought or the employee misses the message on account of his inattentiveness, this may result in impatience between both persons. Also, words may be said in different tones by different persons due to their cultures and this may convey different messages.
Oral messages may lack clarification
With oral communication, different people have different perceptions. They may interpret wrongly what a person is saying, so asking questions is used to remove any misunderstanding. For ex: During a meeting, the employees often need to ask questions to the manager.
Moreover, it is difficult to assign responsibility for anything going a miss or any mistake by omission or commission in oral communication
How Non Verbal Communication does affect the effectiveness of oral communication?
Nowadays, in any organisation, we do not communicate with words alone or by writing, speaking and listening. But the non verbal aspect is of great importance. It is a way in which our natural, unconscious language broadcasts our true feelings and intentions in any particular situation, and clues us in to the feelings and intentions of those around us. For example: Whenever managers interact with his co-workers, the managers continuously give and receive wordless signals from their team mates.
All of our nonverbal behaviours send strong messages. These messages don't stop when someone stop speaking either. Even when we're silent, we're still communicating nonverbally. On scientific analysis it has been found that the different aspects of communication account for percentages stated as Verbal communication is 7%, Bodily movements and gestures is 55%, and Voice tone and inflection is 38%.
We can say therefore say that non verbal communication is greatly influence the effectiveness of oral communication. Since we are born, we rely firstly on non verbal means to express ourselves like crying because of fear. But for oral communication to take place, non verbal communication needs to be of parallel use. For example: Before a sentence is uttered, the hearer observes the body gestures and facial expressions of the speaker, trying to make sense of these symbolic messages. They seem to be trustable because they are mostly unconscious and part of every-day behaviour.
Some ways in which non verbal communication influences the effectiveness of oral communication in an organisation are described below:
Facial expressions are dynamic features which communicate the speaker's attitude, emotions, intentions, and so on. The face is the primary source of emotions. During oral communication, facial expressions change continually and are constantly monitored and interpreted by the receiver. Examples are: a smile, raised eyebrow, or yawn.
The eye movement is a key part of the facial behaviour because the eyes are invariably involved in facial displays. The different forms are observed to be cross-cultural. The frequency of eye contact may suggest either interest or boredom or may even betray dishonesty. For example: a direct stare of the speaker can show candour or openness whereas downward glances are generally associated with modesty and if the eyes are rolled upwards, it can be conveyed as a sign of fatigue.
Body movements and posture
Our perceptions are affected by the way they sit, walk, stand up, or hold our head. The way we move and carry ourselves communicates a wealth of information to the world. This includes our posture, bearing, stance, and subtle movements.
Gestures are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. We wave, point, beckon, and use our hands when we're arguing or speaking animatedly; expressing ourselves with gestures often without thinking. However, the meaning of gestures can be very different across cultures and regions, so it's important to be careful to avoid misinterpretation
Intonation is the way that the sender's pitch of voice rises and falls when speaking. For example, it shows the interpreter whether the speaker expresses his message in the form of a question or statement. If it is a question, his voice rises at the end of the phrase and if it is a statement, it falls. Another function of intonation is to lay emphasis on a particular word or idea, a detail that the interpreter must not fail to be aware of.
Tone of voice
The tone of voice is a means by which the speaker implies his attitude to the message. It is also a means by which he seeks a reaction from the hearer. For example: in a political debate, the tone of voice is likely to be rousing, whereas on television, the daily news is communicated in a more factual tone. Some other examples of tone of voice are: aggressive, critical, nervous, disappointed, monotonous, friendly, enthusiastic, vivid or persuasive
What is the value of feedback to ensure effective communication?
Feedback happens when the receivers are not just receiving the message but they respond to it. Feedback in an organisation is of great importance because it makes communication meaningful. It is the end-result of an idea and makes communication continuous. Some reasons why feedback is highly valued to ensure effective communication include:
It completes the whole process of communication and makes it continuous.
It sustains communication process
It makes one know if one is really communication or making sense
It is a basis for measuring the effectiveness of communication
It is a good basis for planning on what next to be done especially statistical report
Communication will be useless without feedback
Feedback paves way for new idea generation
What are my own performances with the use of methods of Communication?
Some of the methods of communication that I daily used are:
I do frequently use e-mails to send and receive notes from my representative classmates. Whenever, we are doing a group project, we mainly communicate with the use of e-mails because of the option; attachment of files. We also use this method of written communication because it is the fastest and easiest way to be able to receive any notes or any absenteeism from our lecturers at the university. During my 1st semester at the university, using e-mails has proven me to be a really useful and reliable way of written communication.
Another mostly used device for especially oral communication in my daily life is the mobile phone. The advances in technology have made possible effective communication through the use of mobile phones. I use my mobile phone daily to communicate through calls or messages to my friends and relatives. We can even nowadays with the iphone make planning, create letters and use the means of internet communications.
How can i improve my own performance in communicating skills?