Communication is an important aspect of any organization. From the marketing team to the finance team, to production team to the personnel department, all these groups receive information that tells about the mission, vision, and goals of the company. What links all these teams together is communication. Thus, the importance of communication in any work setup cannot be downplayed because everything that management does, involves communication. Team members are also required to communicate among each other and with various project stakeholders as well. Therefore, communication is crucial to enhance team efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, improve product quality, and develop services and new products.
What is communication? It is the act of information sharing that happens between individuals or groups, the end goal of which is to reach a common understanding. Without the understanding part, communication fails even if two groups reach an agreement. This is because the goal of communication is to understand and not simply to agree on something. An individual may agree without truly understanding the point of the other person, while another individual may agree or disagree due to full understanding of the situation (Guo & Sanchez 78).
In an office environment, communicating the messages properly is crucial to ensure effective workplace communication. Everyone involved in the process must be able to send messages accurately and use the proper channels for communication so that the intended recipient receives the full message correctly. Thus, it is best to have a clear knowledge about verbal and non-verbal communications in the workplace to ensure successful transfer of messages among the participants in the communication process.
Communication per se has several components, all of which work together for a flourishing outcome of understanding. These are the message sender, the context of the message, the receiver of the message, the method of delivery, and the content of the message. Each one of these is essential in the success of communication in the workplace (Heathfield).
Typically, office communication begins with the transmission phase and ends with the feedback phase. The first phase is where the sender sends out the message he or she wants delivered to the recipient (Heathfield). This individual's role is crucial because the success or failure of the communication process depends largely on what information sends out. For instance, a manager wants to inform the team that group meetings will be held weekly instead of the regular bi-monthly meetings. In such a case, the manager must ensure to inform the group when, where, and why the change is being done, including how the change might affect the team's schedule. Therefore, the manager must be able to demonstrate his knowledge of the subject as well as who the intended audience is.
The content of the message is another important aspect of communication. The message must be clear and must contain the relevant information the sender wants the reader to receive. Therefore, the sender must ensure to begin a message with information the readers needs to know, followed by what the reader has to do in order to respond to the message. In addition, the sender must limit the number of information in the message so as not to confuse with the reader with too many information. Thus, the sender must ensure to stick only to what is necessary and avoid using too many words in the explanation (Wigington 71).
The next step is to identify the nature or context of the message. In the workplace, there are several ways to send out communication, but one thing that the sender must understand is when to use written, verbal, and non-verbal forms of communication. In an office environment, messages that are considered to be informational may be sent using the emails, memos, or letters. The only disadvantage of such method is that it tends to be a one-way communication as it does not provide avenues for questions. The same method may be applied if the message is critical in nature, thus, sending the information through emails gives the receivers an opportunity to review again. However, due to the criticality of the matter, reiterating the message through face-to-face contact or meeting will be best.
Using the above example, if the manager informs the team verbally about the changes in the meeting schedule, there is a possibility that some members will forget some details of the information. It is also possible that some will only receive portions of the message and not its entirety. On the other hand, the manager may also opt to send the message through a written message, but he or she must ensure that it is written professionally. He or she must also remember that written forms of communication are open to interpretation, thus, the manager must be ready to answer further queries that will come from the team. Another form of communication is the use of non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, eye movement, body language, and changes in tonal quality, among others. However, in this case, non-verbal cues are not an effective method of communication considering that the more it could be subject to misinterpretations.
The next phase of the communication process is the feedback phase, which allows the reader to interpret the message. This is the stage when the reader is allowed into the communication process and begins to formulate ideas on how to respond to the given situation. And as they enter into the process, some readers bring with them preconceived notions and ideas about the topic the sender aims to deliver. Thus, in such cases, some recipients already begin formulating questions, which results to ignoring the sender's message. It is also possible that some members really do not have an idea about what the message is all about, which prompts the message recipient to agree or disagree without full understanding of the topic. This is a case when failure in communication happens.
As a result, message senders must also consider barriers to workplace communication if they want to address this issue. These communication barriers include cultural and religious beliefs, experience, level of education, and language, among others (Zmorenski). In addition, perceptual understanding of situations is another barrier of communication. For instance, employees may be given the same scenario to evaluate, but due to varying experiences and beliefs, individuals will still have different interpretations regardless of the similarity of situations being evaluated (Nordmeyer). Other forms of communication barriers include physical barrier, which pertains to environmental factors that inhibit an individual from understanding the message right away such as office noises and loud talking. The speaker's mannerisms may also serve as a barrier of communication especially when these actions influence the sender's capacity to send message to an audience. Physical or physiological difficulties may also contribute to communication barriers especially when the sender or receiver struggles in communicating and receiving information due to physical pain or mental stresses (Nordmeyer).
Regardless of the relationship of people involved in the communication, whether the purpose of communication is work-related or personal, the process and concepts remain the same. The sender will always hold a crucial role in the process considering that the process begins with the sender. While the success of the receiver depends on the sender's message, channels for sending the message also play a role in communication. Therefore, a sender must be precise when it comes to what specific message he or she wants to convey and the medium of delivery of the message. This way, there will be a decrease in communication breakdown in the workplace.
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Nordmeyer, Billie. "Barriers to Workplace Communication." GlobalPost. N.d. Web. 27 June 2013. <http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/barriers-workplace-communication-1406.html>.
Wicks, Diana. "What Are the Causes of Poor Workplace Communication." Chron. N.d. Web. 27 June 2013. <http://smallbusiness.chron.com/causes-poor-workplace-communication-20827.html>.
Wigington, Pamela. "Clear Messages for Effective Communication." Journal of Environmental Health: 2008. 70(70). Web. 27 June 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/Docs/JEH/2008/June_08_Wigington.pdf>.
Zmorenski, Debbie. "Keys to Better Workplace Communication." Reliable Plant. N.d. Web. 28 June 2013. <http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/29184/better-workplace-communication>.