What would you say is the most important skill a person should possess? I posit to you that communicating well, is the most important skill that you can learn. Yet, it often seems to be the least respected and sought after, by many people.
Communication is Not Just Talking
Communication is not just about opening our mouths and letting the words fall out, or opening our email application and typing what comes to mind. I chuckled a bit when I came across this quote by screenwriter and novelist Charlie Kaufman, “Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.” I chuckled because I am sure, each of us know that someone who cannot shut up, or who adds no value when they open their mouth. Communication has to be intentional, and it should achieve some objective. I like this quote from motivational speaker Les Brown, “develop your communication skills, because once you open your mouth, you tell the world who you are.”
Communication also involves things such as tone, inflection, volume, word usage, nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, gesticulation, as well as what is not said. Active listening is also a critical part of communication. I found this quote on the internet, “The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply.” So common a problem, I am sure we have all been guilty of it at some point.
Poor Communication or Failure to Communicate?
The way in which you communicate will affect every area of your life as well as those with whom you interact. Author and Speaker, Tony Robins is known for saying, “the way we communicate with others and with ourselves, ultimately determine the quality of our lives.” This is an observation made not only by myself and Robbins but countless others. If you haven’t already, try pondering on it for a while. Surely you will be able to identify examples in your own life or in the lives of others where communication was a determining factor. Maybe it was in the quality of a relationship, securing a job or a promotion or even talking yourself out of a traffic ticket; you get the idea.
I strongly believe that at the heart of all interpersonal relationship problems, is poor communication or should I say, lack of communication. While doing my postgraduate studies in Human Communication, one of my professors used to say, “there is no such thing as poor communication, it is either we have communicated or we have not.” George Bernard Shaw expresses the same sentiment in this quote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
“Communication is not complete unless your message is clearly delivered, and understood by the receiver.” This is a good time to tell you that you might like to check out one of my other posts, On The Power of Voice, which is where this quote came from.
Communication in the Workplace
While, I don’t typically focus on the workplace in my blog, I know that most of you my readers do have a work life and are probably employed at an organization. Therefore, you are likely to find this part of the article relevant and useful as well.
I want to be transparent by telling you, that my inspiration for this particular article came from some observations I have made in the organization at which I work. I wrote and submitted the article for publication in the organization’s newsletter which is produced by the Communications Department. Interestingly, it was not published, or if I am being optimistic, maybe not published yet. The fact that the editor of the newsletter did not even acknowledge receipt of the email and my submission is an example of the workplace culture regarding communication. So, I decided to expand on it and publish it on my blog.
Two Approaches to Organizational Communication
The conventional approach to organizational communication simply sees it as communication which takes place within organizations. Therefore, communication exists separately from the organization. However, Systems Perspective on organizational communication goes a bit deeper. It stresses the interdependence of people in organizations and the outcomes they produce as a result of their interactions. (A Chronological Look at Understanding Organizational Communication, n.d.)
Systems perspective urges us to see organizations as communication, based on a constitutive view of communication. This constitutive view of communication basically says that communication constitutes our social reality. Our understanding, interpretations, perceptions and meanings that shape our social realties, are created through communication (Koschmann, 2014). Based on this view, the organization is not the building, but rather the result of all of the communication that takes place by the employees.
This led me to wonder, what if we can have a better organization by communicating well, resolving conflict quickly and building a harmonious working environment?
The Impact of Communication in the Workplace
The way in which we communicate has the potential to make others feel included or isolated, motivated and enthusiastic or demotivated and void of any enthusiasm whatsoever, valued as a part of the team or devalued. The way in which we communicate can mean the difference between a job well done and a job done haphazardly. It determines whether the goals and objectives of the team are met. If the team leader fails to clearly communicate his or her vision, goals and objectives, as well as share pertinent information with the rest of the team, true success becomes elusive. As a result, the team and by extension the organization, does not reach its greatest potential.
In her book, The Elevated Communicator: How to Master Your Style and Strengthen Well-being at Work, Maryanne O’Brien writes,
After years of coaching and consulting, I’ve seen the impact – both positive and negative – that one person’s communication style can have on an organization, from a team level all the way up to the boardroom. How we interact with one another at work powerfully influences an organization’s culture. When we take responsibility for how we communicate, we create environments where people enjoy coming into the office and where they are capable of doing their best work.
What does communicating well mean to you?
To me, communicating well means, that my message is clearly delivered and understood by the receiver while causing the least amount of pain – psychological or emotional. It also means that I have gracefully received any feedback from the listener. The 7 Cs of communication can provide some guidance when it comes to communicating well. They are to be: clear, concise, correct, concrete, courteous, coherent and complete.
Communicating well is a skill which is important to not just our work lives but to every part of our lives, including our interpersonal relationships. It is also a skill which can be learned. At the beginning of learning this valuable skill is self-awareness. In her book, Maryanne O’Brien identifies 4 communication styles – expressive, reserved, direct and harmonious. She suggests, that they provide a framework for deeper understanding of self, as well as provide personal insight that support our growth and help us see how to work with other styles.
She also emphasizes that how we communicate, plays a role in maintaining and disrupting our well-being, and that our well-being directly impacts how effectively we communicate. Consequently, she has included a section on strengthening well-being. Visit her online at Conscious-Company.com to learn more about the communication styles and for other resources. You can also check out her book yourself. I found it to be an excellent read for anyone wanting to improve their communication skills.
(n.d.). A Chronological Look at Understanding Organizational Communication. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/introductiontocommunication/chapter/a-chronological-look-at-understanding-organizational-communication/
Koschmann, M. (2014). Rethinking communication from a constitutive perspective. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and to read this post. I would love to hear your thought on the topic in the comments. Don’t forget to share this post with a friend. 😊
Namaste ~ 🙏