Communication is one of the most important factors for business success. Regardless of size and industry, organizations depend on effective communication. However, while it seems straightforward, the process of facilitating effective communication can be complex. Because communication promotes better teamwork and collaboration, it contributes to the successful completion of many types of projects and even an organization’s overall goals.
Defining the components of the communication process
Successful communication involves several components that take a message through the process from start to finish, including the following:
- The sender: This refers to people with an idea, request or information that they want to share. It is up to the sender to consider the audience and choose a method that conveys the information effectively.
- The receiver: The receiver is the person for whom the message is intended. These individuals are responsible for understanding and processing the information they are given.
- The message: This refers to the content of the message that the sender wants the receiver to hear.
- The medium: The medium is the device or circumstances through which messages are transmitted. This could be a cellphone (text message) or a computer (instant messaging).
- The feedback: The communication process typically ends when the message leaves one person and successfully reaches another individual or group. This involves transmitting, receiving and, most importantly, understanding. The receiver should also provide feedback that indicates comprehension when responding to the message.
- The external factors: The communication process often goes awry, and external factors are usually the culprit. Examples include “noise” that disrupts transmission or something more complicated, such as lack of context.
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Effective communication strategies in the workplace
There are several ways to encourage effective communication in the workplace, many of which involve working from the top down. Entrepreneur magazine suggests that business leaders incorporate strategies such as:
Define what appropriate communication is
The first step in establishing best practices for communication is deciding what is and is not acceptable. Entrepreneur notes that you can ask the following questions to get started: “To what extent should communication be formal, and when? Is casual communication encouraged and permitted, or do you require a business-only approach across the board? What is the proper way to address superiors, associates and customers?”
Eliminate weak language
One of the most important ways to establish effective communication strategies is to eliminate weak language. Business leaders should work to ensure they are conveying important points with clarity, and that starts with self-awareness and making subtle changes to your own speaking habits. One example is to avoid using the word “but” because “it can be interpreted to invalidate others’ claims or ideas,” Entrepreneur explains.
Focus on clarity in communication
It is also important to be precise in your language, always saying what you mean and asking the receiver if your message is clear. When your language is ambiguous, it’s difficult to set clear expectations and work well with others on projects, presentations and more.
Be intentional with digital communication
As email and instant messaging become increasingly central to workplace communication, leaders should set expectations around how employees use these tools. Discuss what kinds of communication can be carried out digitally, such as quick questions or clarification, and what kinds of conversations require face-to-face interaction.
Other effective communication strategies include the following:
- Encourage the receiver to ask questions. This will allow the sender to ascertain whether the receiver has accurately interpreted the message and allows for any required clarification.
- Choose non-aggressive phrasing. When the sender gives feedback such as, “I’m not communicating well,” vs. “You don’t understand what I’m saying,” it takes pressure off the receiver.
- Become hyper-aware of nonverbal cues. Tone and body language can disrupt a sender’s message. Pay attention to how your body language may be contributing to poor communication outcomes, and work on appearing open and alert.
- Understand your audience. The terminology the sender uses should depend on the audience. A group of accountants might understand quarterly projections, while technology teams have a different body of knowledge.
Taking steps like these to facilitate effective communication is critical for successful management, as well as career advancement. Business leaders and managers need strong oral and written communication skills that allow them to communicate with both employees and superiors.
If strategies like the above aren’t implemented, pitfalls and roadblocks may arise. One example is decreased productivity, because poor communication can cause delays and inefficient work. Another consequence of poor communication is low morale. Because good communication sets clear expectations for employees, a lack of it can contribute to poor work quality as workers don’t understand their responsibilities. It can also cause mistakes that could have been easily avoided.
Here are some other communication pitfalls to watch for, according to “Business Communication Strategies“:
- Differences in perspective: When the sender and receiver have different job responsibilities or goals, they often have different points of view. This can lead to miscommunication or negative feedback.
- Differences in knowledge level: Business leaders and executives have access to information that lower-level employees aren’t aware of. In this case, it is important to share all the relevant information up front, so that all parties have enough context to proceed.
- Lack of common language: If more than one department is working together on a project, they may be working within different parameters and use different jargon to convey what they mean. This is often the case when working with information technology teams.
The online MBA that prepares you for success
For many professionals, an MBA is an ideal way to build skills, like communication, that prepare them for ongoing success in the business world. Virginia Wesleyan University’s online MBA program gives students the hands-on experience in advanced business concepts they need to get the most out of their education, while building soft skills like communication and teamwork that are vital in the global business environment. If you are an innovator who is ready to grow professionally, VWU’s online MBA may be right for you. Learn more about what a VWU MBA could mean for your career.
Content sponsored by Virginia Wesleyan University