Communication is a core foundation in every single one of our day to day interactions. We learn to communicate virtually from birth, and we continue to grow as we age. Everyone has a different way of interacting with people in their lives. Due to the vast number of personality types and cultural differences, sometimes communicating with others can be a challenge.
Specifically, we are going to take a look at how to overcome communication barriers while you’re at work. A simple miscommunication can hold up an important project or deadline, increase tension between old and new employees, and make the overall work environment unappealing. Here are some ways you can start getting over communication hurdles at your office.
Practice Active Listening
Everyone likes to think that they are a good listener, but according to educator Edgar Dale, we may be listening far less than we realize. Dale developed a resource called “Dale’s Cone of Experience” which states that most people only remember about 20 percent of what they hear.
One of the most common reasons we don’t remember much of what people say is that tend to passively listen. If someone is standing in front of you and explaining a problem, we tend to grasp the basics of what they are saying and spend the rest of our time formulating a response while they are still talking.
If you want to overcome communication barriers you have to train your brain to slow down and actively listen to what people are saying. This is one of the most challenging things to correct when you’re trying to build communication between two or more people, but it’s vital to meaningful conversion.
The next time you’re talking to a co-worker, or more importantly, your boss, stop and listen to what they have to say. You’ll be less likely to gloss over small–but often important–details.
Non-Verbal Cues Matter
Often when we think of communications barriers, we think of what we say. Extensive studies show that non-verbals cues, in most cases, are much more important than what we say.
Albert Mehrabian, a researcher, took a look at the data and formulated the 55, 38, 7 theory. In essence, this theory states that when we are talking to others, 55 of communication comes from our body language, 38 percent is our tone of voice, and just seven percent accounts for the words that we say.
While this is by no means definitive in every situation, it should give you an idea of how important it is to mind your non-verbal cues when talking to others. For example, here are some ways to build rapport for effective communication using body language:
- Make eye contact
- Nod as you’re listening
- Stand up straight
When it comes to tone, that’s something you’re going to have to actively think about the tone you’re going to use when speaking to someone. It’s vital that you always learn to respect what someone is saying, even if you don’t agree with their opinion if you come off as condescending or insensitive, the odds of a miscommunication increase.
Use Concise Language
Every single culture develops slang and jargon that they use to communicate. Chances are, your workplace is diverse and filled with people from all different backgrounds. You have to learn to speak in plain and concise language when talking to others.
There are some words or phrases we use that would bewilder or confuse someone who isn’t familiar with the way we communicate. When you’re talking to people at the office, whether it’s the janitor or the CEO, make sure you always communicate with a clear voice and use easy to understand language.
As you get to know your coworkers, you’ll get a feel for how they like to communicate and that will help you handle each conversation on an individual basis.
Showing appreciation is an area where we could all use a little work. The truth is, what may be a big deal to some, doesn’t matter as much to us. Regardless, when someone comes to you and has a question or concern, thank them for taking the time to talk.
If they are coming up to you and asking for help, they trust you. Thank your coworker for coming to you with their problem and offer to help them however you can. If you thank them for bringing their issue to your attention, this will build rapport between both parties.
Alternatively, if someone lets you know that they finished something relevant to your position, or want to update you on the status of a project, make sure you thank them! A little appreciation can go a long way in an office setting.
Despite thousands of years of communication, we still face barriers and miscommunications in our day to day lives. There’s a slim chance that we will be able to eliminate all possibilities of miscommunication, but if we work on closing the communication gaps, we can improve the quality of our work and personal lives.