Demolish Communication Barriers: Tips for Effective Workplace Communication

Open communication is the key to every healthy relationship. While the saying is meant for romance, it applies beautifully to business. The true underbelly of any successful venture rests on good communication, which creates lasting relationships with employees, shareholders, even competitors. A poorly communicating business cannot succeed in a free market.

Ironically, it’s easy to say but difficult to practice. When accounting for the variety of positions, people, and goals present in a work environment, good communication can feel frustratingly out of reach. Brian Gareau of Brian Gareau Inc. spoke at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 on this topic and illustrated how you can improve your business with effective communication.

Clarity is Key

Shocking amounts of barriers exist for good communication. The largest of which is the implication that it’s not an issue worth devoting resources toward. Communication is simple, but not easy. Gareau says it is incredibly easy to let small, social hazards block up a communication channel.

Common problems could be as a simple as loud machinery that necessitates yelling, which could then be interpreted as anger or impatience. Personal relationships could be strained, creating a fear of damaging a friendship with constructive criticism, necessitating a sugarcoating of the truth. If left unaddressed, small annoyances can snowball into massive communication hurdles, causing increased tension, decreased productivity and wavering morale.

So how do you work to improve understanding among employees of varied demographics and communication styles? The key is clarity. Being as precise as possible about expectations can sometimes be all it takes to improve results.

Examples might include:

  • Requesting specific amounts or methods
  • Making a point of deadlines
  • Using clarifying descriptors

Setting standards and clarifying meaning with all regularly used terms around the office can be helpful; a break-down of jargon and slang can wildly improve communication abilities, especially for newer employees.

Change Your Tone

Being flexible in communication style is the key to achieving the best results. Gareau recommends when moving between multiple interactions in a single day, it might become necessary to alter approach. Some individuals prefer personal, attentive interactions, while others prefer quick and formal meetings. Figuring out a work environment’s outliers and self-correcting interaction with those people can improve problem-solving immensely, especially in teams.

There’s also the more technical aspects of how certain words can entirely change the mood of an interaction. For example, when giving constructive criticism or potentially negative feedback, it’s important to observe the correct, stress-free moment. Suggestions should also involve using “I” statements to avoid suggesting blame, using active listening to make sure both parties feel heard, and thanking each other after the conversation to show good faith. Without deliberate courtesy, a bit of negative feedback can easily blow up into hostility.

The Unconscious Element

A large part of what hurts communication ends up being silent signals: non-verbal cues given that signal failed communication or a lack of quality communication. Difficult to control, they require deliberate, calculated change to avoid disrupting office communication. A common example is eye contact: without it, employees can begin to feel unheard or disrespected, immediately straining the efficiency of communication.

According to U.S. News, another, less-obvious example could be good posture, which can communicate confidence. Poor posture, conversely, communicates insecurity and can make other employees feel that the interaction is awkward or unwanted. Other examples are how close to stand next to other employees during conversations, nodding during conversations to communicate listening, not performing other tasks during conversations, etc.

Additionally, the mode of communication can have a big impact on the perceived intentions. Letting co-workers know of a sudden change in deadline via text message could accidentally communicate an inappropriate apathy on the issue, breeding contention. It could be equally inappropriate, however, to repeatedly stop by a boss’ office to give them project updates; the frequent interruptions could be easily condensed to a single weekly email.

While it’s easy to have a conversation and move on, it’s difficult to ensure that a message has been understood and received well. But armed with better communication techniques and habits, workplace interactions can go from dreaded and awkward to productive overnight.

Want More Information?

CONEXPO-CON/AGG’s comprehensive Education Program is the leading source for contractors, business owners, construction material producers and end users to obtain cutting-edge information for today’s challenging economy and business model.

For those unable to attend the education sessions or who would like a copy of what was presented, recordings are available for purchase on a USB drive. There are over 130+ unique sessions from all ten education tracks: Aggregates, Asphalt, Concrete, Earthmoving & Site Development, Cranes, Rigging & Aerial Lift, Safety & Regulation, Technology, Equipment Management & Maintenance, Management: Business Best Practices and Management: Workforce Development.

For more information and to purchase education program recordings, visit http://www.conexpoconagg.com/visit/education/.




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