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Overcoming Communication Barriers in Organisations

Overcoming Communication Barriers in Organisations



By
Martin Hahn
Martin-Hahn_19955
Although all communication is subject to misunderstandings, business communication is particularly difficult. The material is often complex and controversial. Moreover, both the sender and the receiver may face distractions that divert their attention. Further, the opportunities for feedback are often limited, making it difficult to correct misunderstandings. The following communication barriers in organizations and ways to overcome them will be the main topic of this article.
1. Information Overload. Too much information is as bad as too little because it reduces the audiences ability to concentrate effectively on the most important messages. People facing information overload sometimes try to cope by ignoring some of the messages, by delaying responses to messages they deem unimportant, by answering only parts of some messages, by responding inaccurately to certain messages, by taking less time with each message, or by reacting only superficially to all messages.
To overcome information overload, realize that some information is not necessary, and make necessary information easily available. Give information meaning rather than just passing it on, and set priorities for dealing with the information flow. Some information isn't necessary.
2. Message Complexity. When formulating business messages, you communicate both as an individual and as representative of an organization. Thus you must adjust your own ideas and style so that they are acceptable to your employer. In fact, you may be asked occasionally to write or say something that you disagree with personally. Suppose you work as a recruiter for your firm. You've interviewed a job candidate you believe would make an excellent employee, but others in the firm have rejected this applicant. Now you have to write a letter turning down the candidate: You must communicate your firms message, regardless of your personal feelings, a task some communicators find difficult.
To overcome the barriers of complex messages, keep them clear and easy to understand. Use strong organization, guide readers by telling them what to expect, use concrete and specific language, and stick to the point. Be sure to ask for feedback so that you can clarify and improve your message.
3. Message Competition. Communicators are often faced with messages that compete for attention. If you're talking on the phone while scanning a report, both messages are apt to get short shrift. Even your own messages may have to compete with a variety of interruptions: The phone rings every five minutes, people intrude, meetings are called, and crises arise. In short, your messages rarely have the benefit on the receivers undivided attention.
To overcome competition barriers, avoid making demands on a receiver who doesn't have the time to pay careful attention to your message. Make written messages visually appealing and easy to understand, and try to deliver them when your receiver has time to read them. Oral messages are most effective when you can speak directly to your receiver (rather than to intermediaries or answering machines). Also, be sure to set aside enough time for important messages that you receive. Business messages rarely have the benefit of the audiences full and undivided attention.
4. Differing Status. Employees of low status may be overly cautious when sending messages to managers and may talk only about subjects they think the manager is interested in. Similarly, higher-status people may distort messages by refusing to discuss anything that would tend to undermine their authority in the organization. Moreover, belonging to a particular department or being responsible for a particular task can narrow your point of view so that it differs from the attitudes, values, and expectations of people who belong to other departments or who are responsible for other tasks.
To overcome status barriers, keep managers and colleagues well informed. Encourage lower-status employees to keep you informed by being fair-minded and respectful of their opinions. When you have information that you're afraid you boss might not like, be brave and convey it anyway. Status barriers can be overcome by a willingness to give and receive bad news.
5. Lack of Trust, Building trust is a difficult problem. Other organization members don't know whether you'll respond in a supportive or responsible way, so trusting can be risky. Without trust, however, free and open communication is effectively blocked, threatening the organization's stability. Just being clear in your communication is not enough.
To overcome trust barriers, be visible and accessible. Don't insulate yourself behind assistants or secretaries. Share key information with colleagues and employees, communicate honestly, and include employees in decision making. For communication to be successful, organizations must create an atmosphere of fairness and trust.
6. Inadequate Communication Structures. Organizational communication is effected by formal restrictions on who may communicate with whom and who is authorized to make decisions. Designing too few formal channels blocks effective communication. Strongly centralized organizations, especially those with a high degree of formalization, reduce communication capacity, and they decrease the tendency to communicate horizontally thus limiting the ability to coordinate activities and decisions. Tall organizations tend to provide too many vertical communication links, so messages become distorted as they move through the organization's levels.
To overcome structural barriers, offer opportunities for communicating upward, downward, and horizontally (using such techniques as employee surveys, open-door policies, newsletters, memo, and task groups). Try to reduce hierarchical levels, increase coordination between departments, and encourage two-way communication.
7. Incorrect Choice of Medium. If you choose an inappropriate communication medium, your message can be distorted so that the intended meaning is blocked. You can select the most appropriate medium by matching your choice with the nature of the message and of the group or the individual who will receive it. Face-to-face communication is the richest medium because it is personal, it provides immediate feedback, it transmits information from both verbal and nonverbal cues, and it conveys the emotion behind the message. Telephones and other interactive electronic media aren't as rich; although they allow immediate feedback, they don't provide visual nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, eye contact and body movements. Written media can be personalized through addressed memos, letters, and reports, but they lack the immediate feedback and the visual and vocal nonverbal cues that contribute to the meaning of the message. The leanest media are generally impersonal written messages such as bulletins, fliers, and standard reports. Not only do they lack the ability to transmit nonverbal cues and to give feedback, they also eliminate any personal focus.
To overcome media barriers, choose the richest media for no routine, complex message. Use rich media to extend and to humanize your presence throughout the organization, to communicate caring and personal interest to employees, and to gain employee commitment to organizational goals. Use leaner media to communicate simple, routine messages. You can send information such as statistics, facts, figures and conclusions through a note, memo or written report
8. Closed communication climate. Communication climate is influenced by management style, and a directive, authoritarian style blocks the free and open exchange of information that characterizes good communication.
To overcome climate barriers, spend more time listening than issuing orders.
9. Unethical Communication. An organization cannot create illegal or unethical messages and still be credible or successful in the long run. Relationships within and outside the organization depend or trust and fairness.
To overcome ethics barriers, make sure your messages include all the information that ought to be there. Make sure that information is adequate and relevant to the situation. And make sure your message is completely truthful, not deceptive in any way.
10. Inefficient Communication. Producing worthless messages wastes time and resources, and it contributes to the information overload already mentioned.
Reduce the number of messages by thinking twice before sending one. Then speed up the process, first, by preparing messages correctly the first time around and, second, by standardizing format and material when appropriate. Be clear about the writing assignments you accept as well as the ones you assign.
11. Physical distractions. Communication barriers are often physical: bad connections, poor acoustics, illegible copy. Although noise or this sort seems trivial, it can completely block an otherwise effective message. Your receiver might also be distracted by an uncomfortable chair, poor lighting, or some other irritating condition. In some cases, the barrier may be related to the receiver's health. Hearing or visual impairment or even a headache can interfere with reception of a message. These annoyances don't generally block communication entirely, but they may reduce the receiver's concentration.
To overcome physical distractions, try to prepare well written documents which are clear, concise, and comprehensive. When preparing oral presentations try to find a setting which permits audience to see and hear the speaker clearly.
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting. For more info visit
http://www.martinimhahn.com
Article Source:
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Clear Communication Brings Enhanced Career Performance - HK Presentation Skills Training Courses in Hong Kong

Clear Communication Brings Enhanced Career Performance - HK Presentation Skills Training Courses in Hong Kong

By
Ken Schmitt
Ken-Schmitt_812895
The term "label" carries with it a slew of images - both positive and negative. For those wounded veterans who proudly display the words "War Vet" on their license plate, the label brings respect and admiration. For those suffering from intense peanut allergies, a warning label on products produced without any peanut oil, can be life saving. The term "ADHD" (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or "IEP" (independent education plan) on a student's school file allows the teacher to work more effectively with the student. In each case the goal remains the same: to provide information that allows others to better understand the person or item with which they are interacting in hopes of providing a more positive experience.
So what does this have to do with career management, recruiting or job search? Consider this email we've all received at some point in our professional lives: "I'm not interested in your services at this time." Or how about this one: "Got your message. Give me a call." Or one of my favorites: "I don't understand what you're asking."
While there are a number of ways to interpret these messages - rude, succinct, dismissive, respectful, blunt or inquisitive - wouldn't our jobs be easier if we had some insights about the person sending the message to help us interpret her words more accurately? Or put another way, wouldn't life be easier if we all had "labels" identifying our style of communication?
"Hello, my name is Ken - don't bore me with details"
Let's use TurningPoint as an example. Keep in mind we are a small, boutique firm with a virtual model and a combined 40+ years of experience in recruiting, HR and career coaching, so we are not new to communicating. However, even in our small firm, we each have our unique style of communicating. I am very honest with my team, letting them know that I speak and move very quickly, I tend to work on multiple things at a time - hence the typing in the background while I am talking to them on the phone - I have high expectations and I am a perfectionist when it comes to written communication. While details are important to me, my mind operates - and therefore I communicate - with a focus on ideas, vision, long term strategy, connectedness and the need to create solutions.
My team is comprised of a former teacher, a certified coach with a sociology degree and an HR/recruiter who grew up overseas and earned a degree in anthropology. Do you think we all communicate in the same manner - think again! Do you think it took some time to get accustomed to each other's styles - you'd better believe it!
While I'm not advocating that everyone walk around with an actual label on their shirt that reads "Hello, my name is Ken. I'm a visionary guy so don't bore me with details", it's imperative that we spend time in the workplace talking openly about our approach, our goals and our perspective. Absent this commitment to understanding each other's communication style, issues are bound to arise ranging from an inadvertent insult to an inaccurate financial arrangement.
About five years ago, I sat on a local board and the interaction between the various personalities was quite invigorating. I felt it was my responsibility as a board member and President to take advantage of our large cash reserve - which had been in place for many years - to provide some new services to our members. Being an "idea guy", I was not worried about decreasing our cash reserves by 15%-20% because these new programs were going to benefit the membership. Our Treasurer, however, had a different perspective and as an accomplished financial professional and fellow board member, was focused on the dollars. On one occasion, I sent an email outlining my expectations and plans to deploy this capital. Although I had no intention of insulting anyone, my seemingly benign message was met with the following: "Ken, I really don't understand what you want from me. If you want me to resign from the board, just say so!"
"Where did that come from?" I asked myself and several colleagues. I realized later - and this was a great learning experience for me - that my failure wasn't in the message. Rather, I had failed earlier on by not talking to the Treasurer 1-on-1 about my thoughts and the reasons behind my so-called "spending spree". I never took the time to recognize that this individual was a numbers person and as such, the primary goal was to preserve cash! Perhaps the Treasurer's label would read something like "Hello, I'm a CPA, CMA, Controller and Treasurer. My commitment is to producing accurate numbers & managing cash. New ideas are fine, so long as they're paid for."
It's easy to forget that each one of us brings different life experiences, biases, education and perspectives to every encounter. While you cannot be held responsible for interpreting the communication style of every person you come into contact with, it's up to
you to open the dialogue, providing those around you with a glimpse into your style.
"Hi, my name is Ken Schmitt and I'm a native of San Diego. I've been working since I was 14 years old, my dad was a Jack in the Box franchisee and my mom is an accountant turned real estate agent. From the age of 13 I knew I wanted to run my own business some day and as soon as I got into recruiting and started networking in 1998, I knew I had found my home."
These 75+ words, though short and to the point, provide a great deal of insight into who I am, what my priorities are, where I spend my time and most likely, how I communicate with those around me.
The more others learn about you, your preferences, your personality type and your style of interaction - both listening and speaking - the greater the chances that your interaction will be productive at work and home. Don't hesitate to share your "label" with your friends, colleagues, superiors, staff and family, and encourage them to do the same. I guarantee you will be impressed by the results.
What's your label and how will you use it to enhance your career?
Ken C. Schmitt is an Executive Recruiter, Career Coach, Expert Resume-Writer and Master networker. He has been coaching and placing mid-senior level professionals for 13 years. Having presented to nearly 1000 professionals and written more than 50 career-related articles, Ken is well positioned to provide valuable information about recruiting and career management. For more career management advice visit
http://www.turningpointsearch.net/
Article Source:
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