Effective Communication Effective communication in the workplace is vital.

Max De Pree, author of The Art of Leadership, wrote, "There may be no single thing more important in our efforts to achieve meaningful work and fulfilling relationships than to learn and practice the art of communication" (La Lone). Since a workplace is comprised of multiple people, the ability of those people to share their knowledge, coordinate, and collaborate is key to the successful conduct of business. Not only is it essential for management and staff to communicate well, but communication among staff and between staff and customers is also closely aligned with business success. Although many companies have internal communication vehicles such as newsletters or bulletins for disseminating company-related information, these forms of communication are not a satisfactory substitute for direct communication in the form of conversation, because "written communication is all one-way" (Osborne). Two-way communication facilitates a real exchange of information and provides the necessary environment for innovation and teamwork. Not all communication is the same, however, and an understanding of the different types of communication and when they are most aptly used is beneficial. In addition, it is important to understand the barriers to communication that may exist, as well as the influence of personality types on communication and the advantages of active listening. Types of Communication The types of communication that exist in a workplace are numerous. Operational communication can occur both internally among management and staff and externally with customers and suppliers (La Lone). In addition, communication can occur electronically via live chat and e-mail, in writing by memorandum or letter, and face-to-face in the form of formal or

informal discussions or training situations. Not all communication is verbal; a UCLA study found that as much as 93% of all communicational effectiveness is "determined by nonverbal cutes," and another study found that "the impact of a performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by the nonverbal communication" (Heathfield). The types of communication are also distinguished by their purpose. Some communication is intended only to impart information, while other forms of communication are designed to persuade, provoke, engender creative output, or promote teamwork. Nonverbal Communication While most people focus on how their verbal communication is designed, nonverbal communication tends to occur without their even being aware of it. It has been said that "Nonverbal communication speaks louder than words," and this is true because "The visual sense is dominant for most people" (Segal). Nonverbal communication relies on nonverbal cues to send messages and on emotional intelligence to receive them. Among the most important nonverbal cures are eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, touch, intensity, timing and pace, and sounds that convey understanding. Eye contact makes it possible to see another's emotions, and facial expression and tone of voice underscore those emotions. Posture can convey much information, as well; a stiff, uncomfortable stance indicates that the person is not at ease discussing the subject at hand or not comfortable with the other person. A person's touch can also communicate much; a rough, forceful touch can feel overbearing, while a too timid touch may seem weak. A reassuring touch can be more comforting than words. Even the intensity with which information is imparted affects the meaning and impact of communication. A bold, dramatic approach communicates a completely different sentiment than a tentative or passive approach. The timing and pace of communication also conveys a message. Talking to someone

who is impatient, speaking rapidly, and not listening carefully suggests that the person is not truly interested, while talking to someone who speaks at a slower pace and takes the time to listen patiently gives the message that the person is interested and concerned. Although they seem extraneous, expressions such as "ah," "um, "uh-huh" are expressions of acknowledgment and agreement that can show both understanding and emotional connection (Segal). Segal notes that "Together, these nonverbal signals communicate your interest and investment in others" and identifies the critical importance of the fact that "these elements are experienced much more intensely in the pauses between words and offer us the best opportunities for emotional communication." Persuasive Communication Much communication in the workplace is persuasive. The boss must persuade the workers to do a good job and complete work on time. The organization's leader must cast a compelling vision and bring everyone on board with it so that all are working toward the same goals with the same driving purpose. Employees may persuade the boss to give them a raise or promotion, or they may attempt to persuade him to adopt a creative idea they believe will improve conditions at work. All of these scenarios demand skill at persuasive communication, but unfortunately, many people are not adept at persuasion. They often fall prey to the pitfalls of persuasion-the "up-front hard sell," resisting compromise, trying to persuade with a great argument, or assuming that a single effort will succeed in persuading someone (Harrison). Professor Jay Conger, professor of organizational behavior at the University of Southern California, made a 12-year study of successful business leaders and change agents, in addition to reviewing the academic literature on persuasion and rhetoric (Harrison). Conger found that there are four essential steps to persuasion: establishing credibility, framing goals along common

ground, reinforcing the position with "vivid language and compelling evidence," and connecting emotionally with one's audience (Harrison). Establishing credibility gives people a reason to trust the persuader, while framing goals along common ground highlights mutual benefits. Vivid language and compelling evidence "lend a compelling and tangible quality to the persuader's point of view". Finally, good persuaders tap into their audience's emotions effectively, being "aware of the primacy of emotions" and understanding how to respond to their audience's feelings (Harrison). By making an emotional connection with their audience, they "get through to them," not only persuading them effectively but also creating a bond that makes future collaboration and persuasion easier. Personality Types and their Differing Communication People's personality types exert a potent effect on their communication styles and bring with them both strengths and weaknesses. Extroverted and introverted people, for example, communicate quite differently. Extroverts find it easy to make conversation and enjoy talking face-to-face. In addition, they generally say what they mean and feel free to speak openly. On the negative side, extroverts may talk too much and make it difficult for the other person to respond, and they have a tendency to speak without thinking through their words, thus creating hurt feelings. Moreover, when talking to an introvert, the extrovert can appear superficial or insincere and can become overbearing. Introverts, on the other hand, avoid crowds and may prefer communicating indirectly. They are harder to get to know, have a smaller group of friends, and express their feelings through nonverbal cues more than the extrovert does. On the negative side, they can be viewed as antisocial, weak, or arrogant by extroverts (Falikowski).

Active Listening Of all the communication keys, active listening is one of the most vital. Without active listening on the part of both sides, little actual communication takes place, and the situation being discussed is not likely to be improved. With active listening-"a structured form of listening and responding that focuses the attention on the speaker"-the speaker can "find out whether the listener really understood" and can explain further if necessary (Active Listening). Active listening prevents misunderstandings and encourages people to talk more readily, as well as letting each speaker know that he or she has been heard. Through active listening, many of the other barriers to communication can be overcome, and resolution can be reached. Conclusion Communication is essential for effective business, and an understanding of how good communication is achieved is a core skill for organizations. Through a grasp of the types of communication, skill at displaying and interpreting nonverbal communication, expertise at verbal communication and persuasive communication, and leveraging of knowledge about personality types, communicators can facilitate communication that is more effective. By preparing for communication in crises and eliminating communication barriers, they can achieve communication that is unhindered by situations or poor conversational habits, and through active listening the benefits of good communication are optimally achieved.

Works Cited

“Active Listening”. Conflict Research Consortium. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/activel.htm

Falikowski, A. Interpersonal communication and personality type. Mastering Human Relations 3rd Edition. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Harrison, K. Four steps in persuasive communication at work. Cutting Edge PR. Retrieved September 4, 2012 from http://www.cuttingedgepr.com/articles/empcomm_foursteps.asp

Heathfield, S.M. (2008). Listen with your eyes. About.com. Retrieved September 4, 2012, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/interpersonalcommunicatio1/a/nonverbal_com.htm

La Lone, J., Communication in the workplace. Retrieved September 1, 2012 from http://www.tarleton.edu/~lalone/lalone/GB3123%20BC/P%20P%20T%2003/Ch%20001%20BC %2010ed.ppt

Osborne, S. (2004). Business performance. Organization Communication. Retrieved September 4, 2012, from http://www.businessperform.com/articles/organization_communication.html

Segal, J., Nonverbal communication: The hidden language of emotional intelligence. Helpguide.org. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from


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