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Work Place Communication Skills
Communication being the mother of all skills must be mastered by one and all for professional as well as personal success. Communication is an art which has to be mastered by the professionals irrespective of their position. The components of communication are Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (LSRW). If you master these components, you will become good manager and able to get the things done to the satisfaction of your superiors.
Listening being the first component of Communication skill, one has to practice this skill with all the attentiveness required to reciprocate, react and to give constructive feedback.
Without listening one cannot be effective in discharging their duties in the workplace.
In a nutshell, listening is considered as the key skill in communicating with others. For example, if you do not listen attentively, you cannot discharge your duties effectively to the satisfaction of your boss. You may lose the edge over your competitors in the workplace. Your appraisal may not be up to the mark. If you are a Secretary or a Stenographer, you must be more attentive compared to others. One small mistake committed due to lack of attention may put the project in problem which you are handling. Proactive listening will help you to climb the ladder of success. Active listening is that wherein you are active only in listening, but proactive listening will motivate and prompts you to take action on the points which you have listened through your boss, peers or subordinates. This will help you to become a key member of the team. You have take the expression as it is while listening to the speaker but should not react immediately.
Speaking can be mastered only with practice. The ability to speak clearly will determine the effectiveness of the individual in the workplace. Your clarity of thought is reflected in your way of speaking and choosing the right words. Choosing the right words for the right occasion to express in the right place and with right people will help you to master the art of speaking. One has to practice this art of speaking by understanding the situation and the vocabulary of different industry segments with which you are associated. SIP in the field of education means Summer Internship program but the same SIP sounds different in the field of banking i.e. Systematic Investment Plan. Before globalization the jargon of recruitment is different from post globalization. Previously it was recommendation and now it was with reference you can find a placement of your choice. Now-a-days, many are spelling the word schedule as schedule due to the influence of American work culture in the Indian Work Place. Observation also will help you to become a good speaker. Positive expression while talking to your boss, peers, and subordinates will create positive vibes in the workplace. You should not go to your boss with the word ‘complaint’ in your expression; instead you must rearrange the sentence with the expression as ‘I would like to bring to your kind notice’. This way, one can master speaking skills in the workplace and help in creating positive vibrations in the workplace.
Emotional intelligence/balance while speaking will give you edge over others. One must be Assertive communicator while talking to others. Aggressive communication or reaction will spoil the atmosphere and may not help in getting the things done. The communication must be apt to the situation and should not express in over tones.
Your perception will influence your way of communicating with others. One should not impose the perception or opinion on others through their way of expression. You must give choice and freedom to others to choose and express their view point. If you are precise and pin pointed with your communication, you can avoid politics in the work place. You can avoid grapevine in the workplace. You can avoid heart burns in the work place.
Reading maketh a complete man. This quote reflects the importance of reading in the life of a professional. Reading also includes studies, wherein you have to try to improve your qualifications and skills which would help move fast on the career path. Lack of reading skills or not concentrating much on reading the latest developments in your field will make you a novice in the workplace. Those who update knowledge of their field continuously will climb the ladder of success in the workplace without many hassles. Those who doesn’t concentrate on improving their reading skills will not be in the race of promotion or any kind of other career developing appraisals happen from time to time in the continuous learning organizations.
Writing i.e. letter drafting and report writing forms part of the life of a professional wherein one has to possess these skills to become an effective manager. A professional has to master the art of writing which is useful in the workplace to communicate effectively and to assert his stand in every situation. Lack of writing skills will be an obstruction in the progress of one’s career path and can mar the future prospects.
Barriers in communication can be overcome with concentration and observation. Focusing on the mode of communication and its effectiveness will help to reduce the effectiveness of barriers in communication. In an ‘open cabin culture’ in the work place, one cannot expect ‘noiseless’ atmosphere. Cell phones in the workplace also will become barriers for effective communication. To avoid barriers in communication in the workplace, one has to develop ‘accommodating culture’.
Basics of Effective Communication
o It matters not so much what you say as it does how you say it.
o Your communication style is a SET of various behaviors and methods of relaying information that impact all facets of life.
o The goal should always be to understand – not to be right.
o Get the facts before you pass judgment. Some styles lend themselves better to this than others.
o Learning all communication styles is important in order to avoid communicating in less effective ways and in order to recognize those styles in others so as to be able to deal with them.
o People are not difficult. They only seem difficult to the extent that we do not have the skills to deal with what they bring to the table. It is our lack of knowledge that makes the situation difficult.
Which is the Best Style?
o All styles have their proper place and use.
o Assertive communication is the healthiest.
– Boundaries of all parties are respected.
– Easier to problem-solve; fewer emotional outbursts.
– It requires skills and a philosophy change, as well as lots of practice and hard work.
– When both parties do it, no one is hurt in any way and all parties win on some level.
Understanding Communication Styles – Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Communication –
o Allowing our own rights to be violated by failing to express our honest feelings.
o The goal of being a passive communicator is to avoid conflict no matter what.
o Little risk involved – very safe.
o Little eye contact, often defers to others’ opinions, usually quiet tone, may suddenly explode after being passive too long.
Examples of Passive Communication
o “I don’t know.”
o “Whatever you think.”
o “You have more experience than I. You decide.”
o “I’ll go with whatever the group decides.”
o “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.”
o “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. . . NO!”
o Protecting one’s own rights at the expense of others’ rights – no exceptions.
o The goal of the aggressor is to win at all costs; to be right.
o Does not consider actions a risk because this person thinks they will always get their way. It is risky in terms of relationships, however.
o Eye contact is angry and intimidating; lots of energy; loud and belittling; never defers to others, or at least does not admit to; manipulative and controlling. Often uses violence or verbal abuse.
Examples of Aggressive Communication
o “I don’t know why you can’t see that this is the right way to do it.”
o “It’s going to be my way or not at all.”
o “You’re just stupid if you think that will work.”
o “That kind of logic will sink the company.”
o “Who cares what you feel. We’re talking about making things work here.”
o Forfeiting your own rights initially, followed by manipulation and vengeance later.
o The goal of this style is to avoid conflict and then make the other party wish they had seen it your way.
o Avoids risk initially, risks relationships later, then acts surprised when people are mad.
o Behaves passively to people’s face, then aggressively when they are not around. Often uses sarcasm.
Examples of Passive-Aggressive Communication
o “Sure, doctor. I’d be happy to write that verbal order,” but back on the unit the order is “forgotten.”
o “I love your hair. Most people probably can’t even tell it’s a wig.”
o “I hear what you’re saying, and I wouldn’t want to make waves, so I’ll do what you say even though someone will probably get sued.”
o Protecting your own rights without violating the rights of others.
o The goal of the assertive person is to communicate with respect and to understand each other; to find a solution to the problem.
o Takes a risk with others in the short run, but in the long run relationships are much stronger.
o Eye contact maintained; listens and validates others; confident and strong, yet also flexible; objective and unemotional; presents wishes clearly and respectfully.
Examples of Assertive Communication
o “So what you’re saying is. . . .”
o “I can see that this is important to you, and it is also important to me. Perhaps we can talk more respectfully and try to solve the problem.”
o “I think. . . I feel. . . I believe that. . . .”
o “I would appreciate it if you. . .”
I – Persistence
1. Stay focused on the issue – do not get distracted, defensive, or start justifying yourself.
2. Repeat the “bottom line” to keep the conversation on track and your issues on the table (e.g., “I understand that, however we are talking about. . .”).
3. Alternative styles would withdraw or would escalate this to a battle of wills that would override compromise.
II – Objectivity
1. Focus on the problem, not on the emotions that often accompany and cloud problems. Postpone discussion if emotions cannot be contained.
2. Use the validation skill (next) to handle others’ emotions so you can focus on objective issues.
III – Validation
o Allow people to have their experience, but try to move beyond it to a discussion about the problem.
o You do not necessarily have to disagree or agree – people’s perspectives are important, but they are not the heart of the issue, so don’t make a battle over them. Validate them and get to the issue.
o “If that’s how you see it, that’s fine.”
o “I can see that this upsets you, and from your perspective, I can see why. Now, what can we do to make this better for both of us?”
IV – Owning
o Being assertive means you also must own what is yours to own. If the other person has a point about your behavior, own it (this is the “. . .without violating the rights of others” part). Bulldozing over that is aggressive.
o Accept someone’s criticism as feedback rather than an attack. (e.g., “You could be right about that. . .”, “That is entirely possible, knowing me. . .”) Where is the value in fighting another’s negative opinion about us? Perspective is hard to change when directly challenged. This shows that IF their perspective were true, you’d own it.
V – Challenging False Information
o When attacked with false and negative statements, do not fall prey to defensiveness. That only escalates emotions.
o Look for the grain of truth and validate it. This knocks barrier walls down and opens the door for discussion about the real problem.
o At times people are rigid and a more forceful stance is needed. E.g., “I’m sorry, I simply do not see it that way, but you are more than entitled to your opinion.”
o Disagree, using factual information. E.g., “Actually, I was at work, so that could not have been me.”
VI – Pumping the Negatives
o When criticized, ask for more negative feedback – do so assertively, as though you are trying to learn more about how to be better in that area (and in fact, that should be your goal). E.g., “Tell me more about what is bothering you about my report.”
o Stay task oriented!!! If you slip into emotions and get offended, you lose. Pump practical negatives (not baseless criticisms) and how your actions can be improved to help solve the problems.
VII – Humor
o Humor breaks down negative emotions.
o Humor can put tense situations at ease.
o When grain of truth is found, joke about it while owning it.
o Be careful to use humor appropriately and professionally.
When Aggression is Appropriate
o In an emergency
o When there is not time to spend on a compromise.
o When your opinion is based on several facts, you therefore KNOW you are right, and there is not time to utilize assertiveness skills.
When Passivity is Appropriate
o When the results of pushing the issue would cause problems that outweigh the benefits.
o When issues are minor.
o When there is a power differential that is not in your favor and the other party is getting agitated by your assertiveness.
o When the other individual’s position is impossible to change. (E.g., the law).
What is “Okay” in Assertive Behavior?
o It is okay to say “I don’t know.”
o It is okay to say “No,” or “I cannot do that.”
o It is okay to make mistakes as long as responsibility is taken for them.
o It is okay to disagree and to verbalize that.
o It is okay to challenge others’ opinions or actions.
o It is okay to not accept another’s opinion as factual or accurate (e.g., getting criticized).
o It is okay to ask for a change in behavior.
Cultivate the habit of communicating assertively, to enhance your effectiveness in the workplace. Measurable performance is always assessed by way of your positive communication skills. If you are not an effective communicator, you may not be in a position to sell yourself effectively in the workplace. Thus, effective communication plays vital role for your success in professional life as well as in your personal life.
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