Attending an acting workshop recently reinforced my opinion on how important good communication is in every aspect of our lives, it is the basis for all human interaction and is therefore essential to the smooth running of any business. Clear, precise communication can reduce wasted effort and resources, and avoid frustrating delays.
Barriers to effective communication can retard or distort the message and intention of the message being conveyed which may result in failure of the communication process or an effect that is undesirable such as conflict. These include filtering, selective perception, information overload, emotions, language, silence, communication apprehension, gender differences and political correctness.
For many of us communication can be particularly difficult when there is something negative to say, or when someone needs to be interrupted or stopped and being able to extract and relay information without upsetting or irritating people is a key communication skill.
Conflict can occur if there has been a breakdown or barrier in the communication. Managing conflict can be very costly. Recent research has proved that UK managers spend up to 1.8hrs per week dealing with workplace conflict. It would therefore make more sense to try to prevent unnecessary conflict than spend time managing the consequences.
Another major reason for conflict during communication is when someone feels as though they are being blamed for something. It is therefore helpful to find ways of avoiding direct blame, you might want to outline how you feel about what is happening rather than what they are doing, i.e. separate the behaviour from the person, for example;
- ‘I feel as though I’m not being listened to’, rather than ‘You are not listening to me.’
- ‘This kind of behaviour is not conducive to a good working relationship’, rather than ‘you are acting like a prima donna and it’s sabotaging this project.’
There are many other reasons why conflict can occur which are too numerous to cover here but in my communication workshops we go more in depth and learn how to be effective communicators, how to manage conflict and change and how to reduce some of the barriers to communication. For more information email; [email protected] .
Research shows that the majority of our communication is non verbal, also known as body language. In fact, 63-93% of communication is non-verbal. Some of non verbal communication includes, gesture, body language or posture; facial expression and eye contact, object communication such as clothing, hairstyles, architecture, symbols infographics, and tone of voice as well as through an aggregate of the above.
As a type of face-to-face communication, body language and choice of tone play a significant role, and may have a greater impact upon the listener than informational content.
It can be easy for us to focus on speaking; we want to get our points out there, because we usually have lots to say! However, to be a great communicator, you also need to step back, let the other person talk, and just listen……
Listening is hard work, which is why effective listening is called active listening. When we listen actively, we need to give our undivided attention to the sender of the message.
But even the best communicators can sometimes be misunderstood, and need help to hone their skills. We will never get it right all of the time and in most cases we just need to take some breathing space to think before communicating so that emotions don’t take over, a few minutes to reflect can save a lot of time and energy in the long run.