Communication in the workplace is often a tricky thing to get right. Communication is much more than just what is being said, it is about establishing a mutual understanding of the subject matter of the conversation. In business, therefore, it is imperative to get communication right. Everything in the workplace from large projects to the tea round depends on good communication across teams and individuals. The need for good communication also spans right across businesse process, from the planning stages of any activity through to the reporting of its success.
Within organisations there is a constant flow of information, both internally and externally. Most projects in the workplace require feedback and sign off at some point, which increases the number of people involved in any single project. Another variable involves different levels of seniority, and you will often find yourself needing to adopt different styles when talking to the different individuals involved. The way you conduct your communication in the workplace needs to adapt depending on who it is you’re attempting to communicate with, and what the aims are. It is imperative that you communicate effectively within a business environment to ensure not only efficient use of your time, but also to avoid misunderstandings and the mistakes associated with miscommunication.
In contrast to other forms of communication, there’s always a target to aim for when it comes to communication in the workplace. In the workplace, communication comes with a certain amount of norms and patterns, and each company has expectations that employees are required to adhere to in order to achieve good business practice. In the past, business communication was conducted in a much simpler way, usually by telephone conversations and paperwork; now, however, there are far more channels of communication and each requires a different approach.
Written and oral communication are the two main forms of communication in the workplace. Oral communication covers things such as meetings, informal chats, telephone conversations, group discussions and interviews. Written communication includes emails, instant messages, reports and documentation.
Understand the unique skill set involved in communicating in the workplace as we break down the key concepts
The main thing that you need to achieve when communicating orally is good rapport and trust with the person you are communicating with. The advantages of oral communication are that it is easier to get your point across and express emotions by using the intonation of your voice . You’re also less likely to be misunderstood when communicating orally, as you can open up a two-way discussion with the other person and invite them to ask questions with the aim of getting a more thorough understanding. The other main benefit of oral communication is efficiency. Saving time is highly beneficial in the work place, especially if there are tight timeframes associated with the work you are undertaking, and oral communication allows you to receive instant decisions without delay. Conversation also offers the benefits of privacy and confidentiality when talking about sensitive issues, for example in an HR situation, and can help to diffuse tension in situations.
There are some downsides to oral communication though, such as there being no official record of what has been said; this opens you up to being interpreted at a later date solely via someone else’s note taking. Although there is an element of time saving with oral communication, there are instances where it is detrimental to efficiency, such as when meetings run on and conversations become too anecdotal.
Written communication in the workplace also has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantages are that written communication creates a permanent record of intent and actions, and can be relied upon in case something is forgotten, or in the unlikely case of legal action being necessary. Legally, written communication can be relied upon as it provides valid records. The other benefit is that written communication allows for clear delegation of responsibility that is unlikely to be misinterpreted, as it is both explicit and direct.
On the other hand, the disadvantage of written communication is that it inevitably costs organisations money. Stationery, electricity, technology, internet and email service providers and postage are just some costs associated with written communication in the workplace. Written communication also does not elicit a spontaneous response, as it calls for a more calculated and thought-out response making it less easy to judge a genuine initial reaction. It is also not as time efficient as you inevitably have to wait for a response to an email or a letter.
Communicating effectively in the workplace calls for a specific skill set; you need the ability to be competent in language and vocabulary. If employees lack proper writing skills, this can have a negative impact on a business’s image, so it is imperative that you’re able to communicate effectively when writing. It is not easy to balance your communication skills between getting your point across and acting professionally, while also bearing in mind that you need to be as direct and efficient as possible to get the job done.
If you’re looking to develop your workplace communication to a more professional level, or if this is a service you think would be beneficial to your employees, be sure to take a look around our website to better understand how we can help you to achieve this.