Have you ever asked somebody to explain something to you and then did not understand the explanation despite knowing they were trying their best?
Then you had to finally go to Google or YouTube because you didn’t have it in you to tell them that you still did not get their point, however “well explained” it was.
This is a classic example of poor communication.
Here both parties are at fault at some level, the first for assuming that the other has understood and the other for not voicing his concerns.
Such misunderstandings happening at the personal level among friends and families, the professional front among colleagues, or at an organisational level have become so commonplace that we usually do not pay enough attention to them.
However, poor communication is like a slow poison: silent but deadly.
It slowly and gradually hollows out your personal and professional relationships dismantling the very foundation you have been thriving on.
To avoid such a catastrophe, you must work on your skills to ensure effective communication.
All communications done at the workplace like communicating about individual tasks, sharing project status updates, or giving feedback through face-to-face conversations, emails, videoconferencing, phone calls, etc, come under workplace communication.
Communication at work involves exchanging ideas and opinions, but effective communication goes beyond that.
It’s not just about relaying information; it’s a two-way communication wherein the communicator explains their point so that the receiver understands it completely.
The recipient is expected to focus on gaining the entire meaning of the conversation and make the other person feel heard and understood.
Good communication in the workplace ensures that employees have the information they need to perform well, builds a positive work environment and eliminates inefficiencies.
Though it is generally taken for granted, effective communication at work can be transformative for individuals and businesses.
It leads to:
Effective communication fosters better relationships between management and employees as well as amongst employees, thus promoting employee engagement.
Employees who feel valued develop a sense of loyalty, ensuring longer employee retention.
Human Resource is the most significant asset for any company.
Productivity can be enhanced by ensuring employees understand their tasks correctly and perform their functions competently.
When employees understand how their roles affect the team’s overall success, they’re motivated to push themselves harder.
Conflicts are bound to arise when people with different viewpoints, cultures, and beliefs intermingle.
Since miscommunication and misunderstandings are the root causes of such discord, workplaces that promote better communication are expected to face lesser conflicts or at least have a more effective conflict resolution mechanism.
Effective communication boosts individual self-esteem and develops team spirit allowing space for innovation, collaboration, and growth.
Finally, by fostering a healthy and transparent workplace culture, effective communication at work increases job satisfaction, allowing your business to thrive.
Poor communication results from discrepancies between what is said, what is heard, and how is that perceived.
This lack of mutual understanding arising from miscommunication or lack of communication results in friction and frustration that can act as a catalyst for a tense and unproductive work environment.
This might seem like an internal problem at first.
However, a closer analysis reveals that it is reflected in how employees interact with clients and potential customers, negatively affecting the company’s image and growth credentials.
Examples of Poor Communication at the Workplace
When a manager or team leader fails to provide clear and concise instructions regarding deadlines or desired outcomes, employees may feel confused and unsure about what is expected, leading to delays and misalignment with project goals.
Team members or departments withholding crucial information from each other can hinder collaboration and decision-making.
Similarly, the failure of leaders to relay information regarding changes might result in a loss of trust and credibility.
When different leaders or departments convey conflicting information, it can lead to confusion and undermine authority resulting in non-compliance and disarray.
Similarly, when various departments or employees are relayed information differently, either due to preferential treatment or simply due to lack of attention, such behaviour can harbour unhealthy competition paving the way for rumours and assumptions.
Bombarding team members with excessive information without providing adequate explanations or breaks can overwhelm them, leading to information retention problems.
Using inappropriate language, not addressing recipients correctly, failing to respond on time, or editing gaffes can lead to miscommunication and damage work relationships.
Shying away from addressing challenging topics or giving constructive feedback for fear of confrontation can hinder the growth and resolution of problems.
Recognising the potential negative consequences of poor workplace communication can help organisations and individuals improve communication practices and create a more positive and efficient work environment.
Most of us realise that communication is the key to a healthy work relationship, and of course, unlike what these TV shows might convince you to believe, no one is actively trying to sabotage what you are doing.
So what is it that’s stopping us from communicating better?
Good communication that starts from the top down motivates staff members to be more productive and innovative as employees look to business owners and their managers for direction in the workplace.
However, poor and incompetent leaders are usually indecisive and cannot provide clear direction to their team, or answer questions leaving employees confused and frustrated.
Business goals and objectives are essential, focusing on achieving desirable outcomes like diversifying clientele or profitability.
Lack of clear goals or failure to convey them leads to confusion and frustration; employees may also end up underperforming despite having the potential.
More often than not, good speakers believe that they are good communicators too.
What they fail to understand is that even if you are born with an innate talent for speaking, you still have to work to develop your effectiveness, which takes time, practice, and patience.
One of the biggest mistakes one can make is the illusion that you have communicated something well despite needing to be more thorough, as you assume the rest to be common sense.
In this way, you speak from your perspective, u mindful that not everybody thinks in the same way.
Fear kills more dreams than failure ever can.
Yes, we all have this fear of failure wired into our systems that does not let us try new things or acknowledge our shortcomings.
From this fear and, at some level, from our ego arises the reluctance to take constructive criticism and work on our demerits.
When people from different cultures and beliefs intermingle, differences are bound to arise.
However, cultural differences per se are not the problem; the insensitivity and disregard towards these differences in diverse workplaces lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
If you are going for a job interview or pitching an idea to a client, make sure to do thorough research on the company’s background.
Try to get an idea of what they want from you and deliver accordingly. When communicating information or instructions, be clear and concise.
Avoid using jargon or unnecessary technical terms that may confuse others because using fancy words doesn’t make you sound posh or knowledgeable but simply unrelatable if your audience can’t understand what you want to say.
Value others’ time and opinion, show genuine interest, maintain eye contact, and avoid interrupting.
Listening attentively helps you understand the speaker’s perspective better, and making sure that they feel heard fosters mutual respect.
Different situations call for different communication channels.
While face-to-face conversations are preferable for urgent matters or sensitive discussions, emails or instant messaging may suffice for non-urgent ones.
Visual aid can make your presentations clearer.
Understand that communication is a two-way street, so
make sure the recipients understand what you want to convey and encourage open dialogue so that everybody feels comfortable expressing their ideas and concerns.
A culture of two-way communication fosters innovation and problem-solving.
Whether talking to your peers, subordinates, or superiors, remember that the element of respect is of utmost importance.
When giving feedback, be constructive and focus on solutions rather than criticising or trying to belittle the other person.
A positive and respectful tone helps to build trust among team members.
While ‘what’ you speak is a critical part of the communication process, how, when, where and to whom you speak is just as important.
You can’t announce a party with a bored tone and expect people to be excited, and neither can you yell at somebody in front of others and expect them to take it as constructive feedback rather than outright disrespect.
The same thing would be much more effective if conveyed in a better way or in a more appropriate setting.
Schedule regular team meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and upcoming tasks.
After important discussions or meetings, following up with team members to clarify any remaining doubts or questions ensures that all concerns are addressed promptly, and commitments are fulfilled.
It ensures all team members understand their roles, responsibilities, and overall objectives.
Clearly communicating deadlines and expectations avoids misunderstandings or inordinate delays.
Encourage an exchange of feedback and responsible acknowledgment of success as well as failure at all levels of the organisation.
Constructive feedback and accountability help employees grow and improve their performance.
Adapt your approach to communication, considering that people from different backgrounds might be touchy about specific topics.
Either avoid such conversations or go about them in a sensible manner
Someday you might discover that your company has a new competitor, or the government might introduce new regulations. In this fast-moving world where every day is a new challenge, adaptability has literally become a life skill.
Refrain from assuming that you can convey it to others equally well just because you are well acquainted with something or understand it correctly.
Do not underestimate your capabilities: believe in yourself, trust your instincts, be assertive, and you’re all set to conquer the world.
In the race to achieve greater objectives, certain fundamental aspects like effective communication often get left behind.
Thus, however inconsequential instances of poor communication might seem, they should not be ignored; instead, they should be addressed immediately and effectively.
Acknowledging that there is some miscommunication, recognizing its causes, and then working towards eliminating it takes time, patience, and consistent effort.
You need to ensure that what you are trying to convey is understood by your audience and, more importantly, that it is not misinterpreted.
While misinterpretations can’t be eliminated entirely, efforts can be made to avoid them effectively.
Through these effective communication strategies you can build a collaborative and supportive atmosphere that boosts productivity, fosters creativity, and leads to overall success.
Effective communication is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement and a commitment to open and transparent interactions among all team members.