Much of what we do in our day-to-day interactions with employees and others in a business, educational or religious organization involves communication in one form or another.
But interpersonal communication goes much beyond simply talking. Interpersonal communication includes the creation of an “atmosphere” of communication that results in a positive and constructive work environment. It creates a positive environment for productivity and creativity.
And, the better we are in creating that environment, the more successful we and our organization will become.
We are drawn to those who make us feel most comfortable, who communicate with us in a positive and supportive manner. That is what, in the end, separates a successful business environment from those that are less successful.
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So, what does it involve?
Interpersonal communication in a work environment not only involves what we say, but very importantly what we do in our communicative interactions with others. What we do may involve our body language, the gestures that we use, our manner of eye contact, and very importantly the manner in which we listen to those who communicate with us.
Remember: Good listeners become good leaders.
I tell my audiences, “Whether we want to or not, we live in a world of people who do not communicate well. But, we also live in a world of people who do not possess the knowledge or skill to be good communicators.
“It is simply that many people, including many bosses, may possess communication habits that are less than desirable.”
The causes for those bad communication habits? Here are five common ones:
1. They may be poor listeners. Listening is a skill that is learned.
Good listeners do the following:
▪ They give the speaker – the one to whom they are listening – cues that they are listening. That means being empathetic and responsive to what the person is saying.
▪ They maintain good eye contact, and no side glances. That’s a dead giveaway that they are not really interested in what the person is saying.
▪ They show the person who is sharing their thoughts that they are listening carefully to what is being said.
▪ They offer verbal expressions of feeling, for example, “That must have made you very angry.”
2. They use poor body language: Hands in pockets, shuffling feet, shoulders hunched forward and poor eye contact are all indicators that the listener is really not interested in what is being said.
3. They may use inappropriate grooming: extreme clothing or makeup, clothing that is designed for evening party wear, extreme hairstyles, visible body piercings, and extreme tattoos that distract from positive interactive communication.
4. They interrupt the conversation by interjecting their opinion before their associate has finished speaking.
5. They do not return messages. Telephone or other messages that are not responded to in a reasonable amount of time reveal an attitude of not caring.
These and many more causes of poor communication in a work environment can result in employees who will cease communicating with those who are responsible for them. And effective communication is what keeps a business, a school system, or a church functioning creatively and successfully.
Ray H. Hull, Ph.D., is a professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Audiology/Neurosciences at Wichita State University. Contact him at ray.Hull@wichita.edu.
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