How to Improve Workplace Communication

Organizations are made of people with different personalities and from all walks of life. Not surprising, these differences can quickly lead to miscommunication or even conflict. One way to improve workplace relationships and decrease the potential for miscommunication is to become more mindful of the way we communicate and how others might receive our communication.

The Importance of Communication in the Workplace

Whether you’re working on a project, setting goals, or brainstorming in a group, it’s essential to be aware of how you and others communicate. Misalignment often results in lost time, effort, and even money. And, although we have every intention of saying exactly what we’re thinking, we may be unaware that others are focused on more than just our words. Our body language and tone also communicate messages and if they don’t align with the words we use, misunderstandings can occur, and communication often breaks down.

Two Considerations for More Effective Communication in the Workplace

First start by becoming mindful of three components of communication:

  • The Verbal Component
  • The Paraverbal Component
  • The Non-verbal Component

The Verbal Component refers to the actual words that we use to convey a message. Surprisingly to most, this accounts for less than 10% of the message that people receive.

The Paraverbal Component refers to the way that we deliver those words. By changing our tone, pace, or emphasis we can change the message. Think: “That was a good question” versus “THAT was a good question.” The emphasis on “THAT” implies that other questions were not so good.

The Non-verbal Component refers to body language like facial expressions and gestures. Together with paraverbal communication, it contributes to more than 90% of the message.

When your words, body-language, and tone align, you have the best chance of sending a cohesive message and you give your employees the best opportunity to receive and understand your message as you intended it.

As you become more aware of these three components, you’ll find it easier to communicate effectively and ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Second, learn about your “lens” in the workplace.

We each have our own set of priorities and preferences in the way we approach situations, events, and other people. It’s these differences that can be the source of misalignment, mistrust, and even conflict. When we gain a better understanding of our own “lens” as well as others’ “lens” we open the door to better communications and relationships.

John Wiley & Sons’ “Everything DiSC®” framework describes these interactions and is based on over 40 years of research. The framework describes four basic styles:

  • Dominance
  • Influence
  • Steadiness
  • Conscientiousness

Dominant or D style personalities prioritize results, quick action, and challenging expectations. This Style focuses on:

  • What do we need to do now?
  • What results are we trying to achieve?
  • What can we do to make it even more successful?

Conversely, the Steadiness or S style prioritizes planning, creating a stable and supportive environment and engaging in collaboration. In the same situation as a D Style, the S may instead focus on:

  • How are we going to do this?
  • How do we plan the process out?
  • How does this impact others?
  • How can I support my team in this project or goal?

While neither Style is better, the differences in priorities can be the cause of conflict, misunderstanding, and miscommunication in the workplace. It’s important to be mindful of how you read and approach different situations, along with recognizing other styles and how they read and approach things. If you’re willing to adjust your perspective to understand and meet people where they are, you have a better chance of improving your workplace communications.

CTA: Helping you understand workplace communications

Becoming a good communicator is an important step to improving relationships and morale in the workplace. Understanding, respecting, and listening to different perspectives shows that you’re willing to trust others’ opinions and make better connections.

Consistency in verbal, paraverbal, and non-verbal communication helps others connect with your intended message especially when you deliver it in a way that fits their “lens” on the workplace. If you’d like to help your organization develop more effective communication, get in touch.



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