Different communication styles exist throughout the workplace and in various organizations. Communication style complexities are created by how we were raised, including our cultures and the level of socialization we received as children. Communication is key to working with people. To have a successful organization, it is important that individuals know how to communicate with one another in various styles and at various levels.
Effective workplace communication begins with listening. Listening is the best way for people to determine which issues are important, what problems may exist, and how an individual's leadership skills can assist people. People often do not understand how to listen effectively. Listening requires effort, and many people simply are not willing to put out the amount of effort that is desired to have effective workplace communication. When this occurs, a variety of issues develop.
A masculine style of listening is one that tends to be analytical and problem-solving. When men listen, they tend to interrupt and offer advice. However, when they do that, women see them as not listening to them completely.
Most women listen enthusiastically and show support for the speaker. Women agree by nodding their heads and listening to the entire situation before offering advice. Women also tend to use listening as a way to network with others.
· Allowing your attitude about the person speaking to influence what you hear. This is often true when you are being affected by that person's background and you tend to anticipate what they are going to say, allowing yourself to make judgments before they are finished speaking.
· Letting your beliefs and attitude toward a topic interfere with what you hear.
· Getting emotionally upset over what is being said and allowing your feelings to affect what you hear negatively.
· Hearing what you expect to hear rather than listening to what is actually being said.
· Listening for literal meanings rather than hidden or underlying meanings.
· Focusing on the delivery and nonverbal communication of the speaker.
· Listening only for facts. This can be dangerous because different cultures may analyze facts differently from you.
· Being so concerned about yourself that you miss what the person is saying.
· Letting the speaker do the work instead of actively listening.
This brings us to active listening. Active listening is a tool that helps you become a better listener, while at the same time understanding what others are saying. It means listening to understand the other person's thoughts and feelings. This means you should listen so that you can paraphrase and repeat what that person has just said, which requires you to listen without interruptions or comments.
Nonverbal messages can accent what words mean. They also can complement words by adding clarity or reinforcing a point. In some instances, the words we say contradict our nonverbal communication as well. Nonverbal messages also may act a substitute for words, such as a nod for yes or a smile of appreciation.
At the same time, nonverbal communication can create barriers because we can have unintentional or intentional meanings in our actions. Nonverbal messages are often misinterpreted by people of different cultures. For instance, in Thailand, you should never point your toes at the person you are sitting across from, as this is seen as an insult whether or not you mean it as one.
Many nonverbal communication messages are universal. For instance, a shrug of the shoulders means the same thing in practically every culture. However, some nonverbal messages are culture-specific. There are a wide variety of these and it is not possible to explain them all, but it goes back to not pointing your toes at someone in Thailand. These types of nonverbal messages exist all over the world.
Use of Space
Immediate feedback helps a team move ahead and keeps them moving in the right direction. People must understand what they are doing and how they have been working together. When a team performs an evaluation, there should be no surprises, and the leader should inspire and encourage team members to give each other feedback.
Team members must learn to receive feedback. To do this, they need to be able to actively listen first. Once the feedback is heard, they can interpret it and gain a better perspective on the feedback they have received. Team members who are open to constructive criticism are able to find the best ways to work together in the future.
Feedback loops are also important in a team setting. These allow the team to discuss issues they deem pertinent, and it allows them to perform peer evaluations on each other. Feedback loops keep all members involved in communicating with one another. Regular team evaluations are an important aspect of keeping the team effective. A team leader is responsible for facilitating the group and ensuring constant improvement. Leaders should ask the following questions when evaluating their team:
· Are the team's values and norms still in place?
· Does the team's mission need to be redefined?
· Is the team fulfilling its mission?