Conflicting opinions, unhealthy competition, baseless arguments, lack of consensus through rigid disagreements, a mix of personal and professional spheres, skipping deadlines, disruptive workflow, and drastic changes in the status quo are the worst nightmares of every workplace. And worse is that these factors have the potential to turn into a horrific reality if we do not establish effective communication. In all of these instances, you will notice a pattern that each and everything boils down to the importance of establishing an effective communication environment in a workplace!
Why is effective communication important?
Anything and everything in the world could go wrong if miscommunications become the fuel that adds to the fire. An organization can either reach the skyscrapers or hit a rock bottom depending on how effective the communication at a workplace is.
Effective communication lays down the foundation of any workplace and corporate leaders who harness the skills of effective communication form the true pillars of this foundation.
However, it will lead to an eventual collapse if barriers of effective communication get an upper hand at regulating core functions of the workplace. Researchers have confirmed that a positive environment leads to increased job satisfaction enforcing supportive workplace environments.
Let’s introspect, is lack of communication endangering your path to success? And if the answer to this is yes, then you will need to give serious consideration as to how you could break through these barriers and uphold the core principles of your organization by uplifting your workplace communication! What if we told you there is a way to maximize productive outputs through effective communication.
What could go wrong with a Negative Communication environment?
A negative communication environment is created when the contributions of employees are not appreciated, acknowledged, or provided with any kind of feedback. This makes it difficult for people to accept and give information or to take important action because communication is perceived to be unwelcoming. Your employees are going to feel uncomfortable and will be unwilling to interact!
Researchers identified four negative communication patterns that harm relationships: contempt, criticism, defensiveness, emotional disengagement, and stonewalling.
How to identify a negative communication environment?
If these two types of communication styles apply to your workforce then you will know how endangering negative communication environment can be for your workplace:
Passive Communication: Avoiding conflict, lacking confidence, failing to maintain eye contact and express their views.
Aggressive Communication: Disregarding the rights of others to take their stance, intimidating, using personal attacks to gain an edge over differences in opinion, pulling others down to achieve personal and professional goals.
Disconfirming Communication: Dismissing the values of others by failing to acknowledge others' attempts to communicate by interrupting and creating ambiguity or giving irrelevant responses in an attempt to stir the conversation in a new direction. Not trying to personally connect with the co-workers by giving above-board generalized or intellectual responses that do not associate with the communication.
4 strategies to Improve Communication Climate
- Use empathy to have a deep level of connection:To be able to understand others and know exactly how they feel will not only help you form a deeper level of connection but also help you analyze their struggles and provide solutions that fix their issues. Empathetic skills allow others to know that their message has been acknowledged and heard by communicating about the needs and interests of the employees.
- Win-Win Approach: Put those conflict resolution skills to use by concentrating on the needs and interests of the people communicating. Rather than winning over the other person, the win-win approach is more likely to get things done quicker by maintaining the goodwill of others as well.
- Self-Disclosure: This is an intriguing concept wherein employees get an idea as to how their co-workers would react or get affected. Self-disclosure involves disclosing how you react and feel about the present situation by giving information about your reaction to it in the past so that others get to know more about you. In a positive environment, people disclose more, in a negative environment they become conservative. This openness comes from an acceptance and appreciation of oneself. So in case, there is a deal you are about to sign off on and you know how others would react, you would be more considerate towards making decisions that consider the welfare of others.
- Supportiveness: Acknowledge efforts, creativity, and commitment to teamwork. This allows the better exchange of information by providing descriptive and spontaneous feedback to another person helping in resolving conflicts, providing better inputs, thereby, strengthening your relationship.
Strategies to develop a positive communication environment
- Employees must be valued: Employees are the reservoir of information, they want to be heard and feel that they are making significant contributions in their workplaces. How they are heard will shape the extent to whether or not they feel valued. There is no other thing as demoralizing as asking employees for suggestions, then ignoring them, without constructive feedback.
- High level of trust: Trust lays a foundation for open communication, employee retention, and employee motivation. Co-workers who trust each other are self-assured, honest, less resistant to change, and inclined to act in a trustworthy manner. This promotes cooperation, commitment, and a free flow of ideas and thereby helps an organization survive and achieve a competitive advantage.
- Conflict is welcome and resolved positively:Conflict is just inevitable and having differences in opinion means you have a workforce that thinks creatively and uses their analytical skills. Be open-minded and listen to these conflicts by taking into account their feelings about the situation and strive for a win-win situation.
- Creative Dissent is welcome: Findings suggest that most employees are afraid to question or disagree with their superiors. However, for leaders that foster an open communication environment, dissent is not only welcomed but is also rewarded by encouraging them to think, question, and form independent judgments, and be instrumental in bringing about the change in working style.
- Employees are well informed through formal channels: Communicating behind the grapevine is not a credible source of information! Formal communication channels need to be used such as meetings, memos, e-mails, etc. to avoid misunderstanding and miscommunication to keep employees informed about the workflow of the organization. These codes of conduct are essential for record purposes.
- Participative Decision Making: This allows employees to develop and brainstorm ideas by implementing them in their tasks so that they can take ownership of the work that they do. It is important to engage people in the decision-making process by having them participate in identifying and solving problems that affect them and impact their working conditions.
- Emphasis on high quality, high-performance goals: Creating a positive environment is not enough, it is necessary to communicate a sense of challenge to your employees. Although, supportive environment is necessary it shouldn’t be overdone at the cost of the organization’s success. It is important to let them know that it is important to achieve not only the goals they have set for themselves and the team or department but also to help in accomplishing the goals and the vision that the organization was developed for. Effective leaders use communication skills to coach their employees through the information to get the job done accurately.
- Feedback is ongoing : Constructive feedback is the key tool for improved performance. Be specific, descriptive, and focus on their behavior rather than the person. Therefore, feedback must be ongoing and given to resolve problems without guilt-tripping or inducing feelings of rejection by working on building relationships instead of being disregarding.
We at VitalSmarts ensure that these skills are imparted and trained through Crucial Conversations Skills that have been developed as a program through thirty years of extensive social science research that represent the standard ineffective communication by tweaking the performance of the workforce.