Bridging Communication Gaps Within the Workplace

Communication gaps can be common within the office. This affects the productivity of the employees. Further, it negatively influences the engagement and enthusiasm of the staff, leading to work dissatisfaction. 

Several factors like generational differences, inefficient communication tools, and even unhealthy company culture, contribute to misunderstandings. This article intends to give some pointers on how to bridge the communication gaps in the workplace. 

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Active listening 

Casually waiting for your turn to speak does not cut for good communication practice. Active listening requires you to make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that the other person is saying. 

You should also aim to understand the complete message the other party is trying to convey. Paraphrasing and repeating back what has been said helps to show that you are catching their notion rather than hearing what you think they said. 

Other active listening techniques include:

  • Avoiding other activities during the conversation.
  • Noticing and using non-verbal cues.
  • Withholding judgment and advice. 

Empathy

Empathy is one notch better than sympathy. Sympathy transpires when you understand someone’s emotions from your perspective. On the other hand, empathy involves feeling their emotions from their point of view.

A 2023 study by EY US Consulting shows that 87% of employees state that empathy is essential to fostering an inclusive environment. Inclusion grants employees a sense of belonging. Translated to the organization level, it can lead to a healthier work environment, with better outcomes and reduced absenteeism.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Working effectively with others to achieve common goals helps not only the company’s growth but also the personal development of the employees themselves.

Sharing information, like the business contact list, should be a breeze. Having a reliable contact management app helps achieve this goal. Other assets and resources must also be readily accessible to anyone with enough clearance level. 

Knowing the social behaviors of each team member, like how they express their ideas, voice their opinions and resolve conflicts is essential to collaborate effectively.

Read more: How Contact Management Helps Collaboration

Feedback

Feedback from customers contributes to the improvement of the product. This may also be applied for the betterment of the intra-company culture. 

Asking employees their opinion about the company policies old or new helps improve the management system. Developing a culture where managers and rank and file alike are open to feedback at any level of communication serves as an opportunity for growth. 

Bridging Communication Gaps Within the Workplace_feedback

Open-mindedness

Open-mindedness complements the feedback culture. Being open to possibilities will get you much further forward than dismissing every idea that was presented to you at work. 

Talking with colleagues who already have their minds made up about the topic discourages a welcoming work environment. The ability to consider various points of view without bias or reserved judgment helps improve relationships, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Honesty 

It can be tricky to find honest answers in a messed up situation, particularly if it causes big delays or wasted resources. However, if the employees know that management gives some allowance for mistakes, they will feel more comfortable coming forward when something is amiss. 

Consequently, if the staff sees management always covering up or ignoring problems rather than facing them head-on, they may think it’s all right to do the same. Managers must be open about problems they are facing or the mistakes committed to show that they care and are honest with employees. This can go a long way, especially for remote employees who may not see what goes on behind the scenes.

Tactfulness

Brutal honesty does not always serve, hence comes tact. Tact centers around understanding other people and being sensitive to their opinions, beliefs, ideas, and feelings. 

Learning how to deliver a direct message without evoking an unpleasant emotional response lessens communication gaps in the office. Tactfulness is beyond saying the right thing, it also includes proper timing. It can be handy when delivering difficult news, asking for an over-the-top favor, or giving a critique of some kind.

Adaptability

According to Dr. Michael O’Connor, co-author with Dr. Tony Alessandra of the book The Platinum Rule, adaptability can be looked at in two parts. First is flexibility, which is our willingness to adapt. The other one is versatility, which is our ability to adapt.

Adaptability does not necessarily mean changing who you are. It is more of adjusting your communication approach that better suits the situation.

Useful pointers on the different communication styles:

  • Assertive people: Try not to interrupt them. Actively listen, look alert, and don’t get distracted.
  • Aggressive people: Remain calm. Maintain eye contact, and don’t demand compliance.
  • Passive people: Be direct. Avoid dismissing ideas immediately. Have business tools to help them open up in a less confrontational manner.

Read more: How to Comment on a Google Contact

  • Passive-aggressive: Ask direct questions to help identify his objectives. Tag along with another person to gain another perspective on the conversation. Set clear expectations and boundaries regarding expected results.
  • Manipulative: Be direct and persistent, and project confidence and strength in your stance. Stay focused on the goal 

Body Language

Communicating involves not only the spoken words. Psychology professor Albert Mehrabian even specified in his book, Silent Messages, the numbers at 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% for spoken word. There were some contests on these numbers as situations may vary and even the psychological nature of the speakers is not uniform.

However, it is still important to be mindful of your body language while you’re either speaking or listening. Open, relaxed shoulders, and leaning forward show you’re engaged, really listening, and open to ideas, whereas folded arms, and leaning back can make you seem like you’re distant, not involved, and not open to new ways of doing things.

Bridging Communication Gaps Within the Workplace_body language

Show Good Will to Avoid Communication Gaps

When discussing policy issues, it can be a challenge to demonstrate goodwill. The resulting debates can get heated, and the conversation becomes more controversial. Both management and employees tend to lose objectivity at some point.

Use these strategies to show goodwill during debates:

  • Be respectful.  Even if you disagree with another person’s opinion, no need to be dismissive. 
  • Avoid personal attacks. If you have an opposing opinion regarding the topic, focus on the actual issue rather than making personal attacks against the speaker. Your reservations about another person’s qualifications or professionalism must be addressed properly, but should not be the center of the discussion. 
  • Seek common ground. There may be areas of agreement in the discourse that are worth highlighting. Do this to allow participants to save face if they feel that their views are different from yours.

Presentation 

Some discussions involved visual aids. Ensure that the presentation delivers clear and engaging materials. It should also be concise and avoid long paragraphs. Outlines aid in keeping track of the continuity of the subject.

The presenter must be well-prepared and welcomes questions. Keep eye contact with the audience and not just read through the slides. 

Clarity in Written Communication

Now that remote office setup is more common, written communication plays a more vital role than ever. Office memos, updated business contact lists, and other documents must be easily accessible to those who have the proper authorization to do so. 

Utilize cloud-sharing file tools to reduce revisioning issues. Having multiple versions can confuse, resulting in extra stress and frustration for the team. 

Effective communication is a key to business success. Hence, a competent communication system increases your company’s knowledge base, nurtures a culture of teamwork, and enables collaboration a breeze throughout the organization.

Conclusion

Bridging the communication gaps is crucial for effective collaboration. By fostering clear and open dialogue, diverse perspectives converge, fostering understanding and synergy. This process requires active listening, empathy, and adapting communication styles, among other abovementioned techniques.

Successful bridging enhances relationships, minimizes misunderstandings, and cultivates a harmonious environment conducive to shared goals and innovation.

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