Beacon Hill Training

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Communication in the Work Place

How we communicate, the good and the bad news…

Unfortunately we only separated from Chimpanzees three million years ago, until only a few thousand years ago we were cave men (or women) …..  We just haven’t had time to evolve!

The bad news is we also have ‘Stone Age’ brains that are ‘hard wired’ to make us behave in set ways!  To make quick judgements based on instinct, to work with others, to categorise people quickly in order to predict their behaviors as:   threatening, not threatening, dominant or submissive, friendly or not, it’s also in our makeup that we naturally form alliances or groups.  All very useful in a stone age world where these quick decisions may mean life or death but maybe not so much in today’s society, and maybe less so in the workplace.

The good news here is that we are naturally social creatures with millions of year’s evolution behind us to practice communicating in many ways! – So we have a chance!

‘The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through’.  Sydney J. Harris

How we communicate

What we actually say is only a small part of what is communicated about 38%, with 7% being the tone in which it is said, that means 55% of communication is non-verbal.   We tend to typically remember or pay attention to non-verbal or visual information first.

This may be a throwback to our (far too recent) decent form the trees! As a species we practiced nonverbal communication for about 50 million years – we have only been speaking for maybe two million at best so it stands to reason we would communicate first non-verbally and second orally, whether we know it or not!!!

Examples of non-verbal communication

Facial expression, Handshake, Position of arms, Eye contact / type of eye contact, Fidgeting, Nodding, Yawning, Posture, ‘Space invaders’ – going into someone else’s personal space is an aggressive act, posture, Gesticulation / acting out emotions, Slamming doors, Reddening of the face

All of these basic movements and actions are forms of communication, all will be observed and taken in by the person you are talking to.

The effects of poor or negative communication be on the individual?

  • Misunderstanding office banter
  • Feels threatened
  • Set apart
  • Isolated
  • Low levels of esteem
  • Difficult relationships with team members
  • Poor relationships with managers  
  • Low work levels as well as work poorly done
  • Eventual loss of the staff member

So what can you do to be a better communicator?

There are a lot of answers to this question.  The first is to actually understand how we all communicate, to actually understand all the messages someone is giving you, rather than just listening to what they have verbally said.

Another is to understand how you yourself are communicating, perhaps you are giving out unintentional messages? … perhaps you are to blame for difficulties with others?   Once you become more aware of how you and others actually communicate you can begin to communicate better!

Avoid jargon, its only real purpose is to exclude some people from a group.  If people don’t understand what you’re saying there really is no point in saying it.  Unless your purpose is to sound more intelligent or more important?  Jargon shuts down communication.

Personality types are also hugely important in communication, both in how you put your messages out, and how they are received.  For example, someone with a more passive personality may interpret information negatively.  A more aggressive personality type may see communication as a challenge to them, or that they are being talked down to. 

Not only do you need to be aware of your communication, but you also need to adapt how you communicate depending on who your with!

Overview

There really is so much about communication we are not aware of, yet it is so important!  Remember 62 % of communication is nonverbal!!   Issues around communication are often thought of as other people’s fault – or problem.

To be good communicators we need to understand our and others communication fully and to know how to respond to it. 

I have tried to give a brief overview on this blog there really is so much more you need to know!

Comments? Questions?

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