Part I – The Barriers
You facilitate weekly staff meetings, send detailed email updates—everyone should be on the same page, right? But for some reason, they’re not. What’s going on?
Although communication is occurring, obviously it lacks in effectiveness.
To be effective, communication must be clearly delivered, fully received, and unmistakably understood. Much easier to describe than to accomplish, though, since communication can break down at any number of junctures between the sender and the receiver for a myriad of reasons.
The key to achieving effective communication is an awareness of what may be getting in the way. These common barriers will throw a wrench in the best-laid efforts to avoid the havoc that miscommunication and poor communication practices can wreak at the workplace.
- Emotions / Stress / Attitudes
Call it the triple threat because these three culprits often travel in a pack. Being nervous about sharing the proposal you slaved over for days paired with stress about the report concerning junior’s poor academic performance and the lingering memories of the imagined or real darts the department’s resident cynic shot your way at last week’s staff meeting will undoubtedly lessen your ability to communicate effectively.
And that’s just one side of the communication equation. Employee A and Employee B traded barbs at the coffee urn moments after clocking in. Your supervisor is reeling from yesterday’s cut-throat budget meeting, sweating buckets over how to break the news later in the meeting. And Employees C and D got a combined six hours of sleep last night.
And this stuff happens on a daily basis at every place of business. It’s called life.
Older and younger generations not only prefer distinct modes of communication, their word choices, approach, language styles, and basically, everything else concerning communication is vastly different as well. This isn’t good or bad, it just is.
While mixing the generations brings the benefits of diversity and provides for mentoring opportunities, both frustration and a lack of unity can fester if bridges between these two employee demographics aren’t constructed, nurtured, and maintained.
The value of teamwork that incorporates diverse members representing different strengths is considered an effective tool for driving creativity and inspiration within many industries. The effectiveness of this proven business model, however, will suffer greatly when communication among team members doesn’t consistently rise to the level that ensures information is clearly conveyed and completely understood. Raise your hand if you’ve ever returned to meeting #2 only to realize every team member left meeting #1 with a different take on the communicated directives.
If adequate time and energy aren’t poured into ensuring accurate reception on the part of every team member, the team will not function like the well-oiled engine everyone expects it to but rather like the chugging, sputtering engine that can’t quite get its act together enough to perform.
Communication barriers don’t have to become permanent roadblocks. Next week check out ways to ramp up communication in the workplace with the post, Effective Communication Part 2: 5 Strategies to Better Communication Skills.
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