Communication for Personal & Organizational Performance
Team communication is a crucial factor in success, whether it be for a sports team like the springboks or a project team within an organisation. The average person spends 80% of their work day communicating. Being an effective communicator is one of the most important life skills you can possess. It allows us to pass information to others and understand what is communicated to us.
At its simplest, communication is the act of transferring information from one place to another. Most of us think we are good communicators and listeners, but the truth is the majority of us are average to poor communicators. When we communicate poorly it can significantly impact our personal and professional lives. In the workplace and teams, it can have a significant impact on your organisations bottom line; creating low morale, low productivity, high staff turnover, poor performance and dissatisfied customers. A company’s internal and external communication can impact profitability.
“Communication works for those who work at it.” – John Powell
ELEMENTS OF COMMUNICATION
Essentially communication has 4 elements; the sender, the message, the receiver and feedback.
When you break communication down into these four elements, it is easier to recognize that each element requires a you to apply a series of skills and decisions. As the sender you decide that information must be shared. You encode the message, using language, emotion and expression as you see fit. You then choose the channel through which you communicate, this could be a text, email, in-person discussion or even a phone call.
The receiver receives and decodes the message. As the receiver you decode the message from your unique perspective, factors such as your current emotional state, feelings towards the sender, relationship with the sender, assumptions and connotations with the words used. The receiver then provides feedback to the sender making similar choices as the sender did.We generally take communication for granted but when you examine these elements and the backstory to each one, you realize that there is a lot more at play than what we assume.
In a diverse and multicultural countries, like South Africa, things can also get lost in translation. For example, when someone says “Kan ek jou papier vampier gebruik?”, you might wonder what on earth a ‘paper vampire’ is, when in fact they want to use your stapler. An international example would be when Coca-Cola originally launched in China as Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company later found out that the phrase means: ‘Bite the wax tadpole’. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, ‘ko-kou-ko-le,’ which can be loosely translated as: ‘Happiness in the mouth’. I hope these examples also illustrate that for us to be effective communicators we need to realize that each and every person perceives the world differently and we apply this perception to guide our communication and understanding of others.
“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life” - Brian Tracy
BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
There are many reasons someone may not understand or receive a message you intend to communicate with them. Here are some common reasons why we may not share information effectively:
“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” - Peter Drucker
TIPS TO COMMUNICATE MORE EFFECTIVELY
PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION VIA ALL CHANNELS
A lot of what we have covered can be used in in-person and electronic communications. To finish off the topic of communication, I want to share with you some insights into how to keep your communication style professional in the virtual world, via email, video call and text or Whatsapp. Check the next page for email etiquette.
Some basics to apply to Whatsapp and text in
the work context:
Address the person you are messaging by mentioning their name as you greet them and briefly summarize your reason for messaging in the first message
Ask how they are as you would in person, this helps you build some rapport
Use proper English, punctuation and grammar (yes they still matter)
Decide on the action you want and be clear in your message
Use emojis with discretion
Use paragraphs, don’t make each new sentence a new message
Use a hyphen as bullet points to summarise multiple actions and get your message across clearly
Its common courtesy to acknowledge the receipt of message, even if you cannot reply immediately
If you have to send photos, do so selectively. Be aware of other people’s storage, data and time
Do not forget to say please and thank you
Treat a WhatsApp group like you would a room full of people.
Do not send an overwhelming amount of messages on a group, be selective.
Use emojis thoughtfully and that are work appropriate.
Some basics to guide your online video calls and online meetings:
· Check your background. A nice clean background without clutter is ideal, or you can blur the background. Some organisations like to put their branding as a background option.
Choose a spot with good lighting. It is preferable to sit in an area with good lighting, if possible with natural lighting and lighting from above. If the light is behind you people are less likely to be able to see you
Look neat and prepared. Even though you might be making a call from the comfort of your own home, make sure you still look neat and professional, as you would for a face to face meeting.
Check your internet quality and sound. Use head phones if there is other noise around you, a lawn mower or dish washer may be loud enough to affect others hearing you and make irritating background disturbances for everyone.
Choose the correct platform.
Be aware of time zones.
Put your microphone on mute when you are not speaking.
If you are late, join on mute. Send apologies via the chat.
If you are the organizer, be ready at least 5 minutes before the meeting to let early attendees in and build some rapport.
Greet people as you would in an in-person meeting.
In large meetings, have a clear agenda and establish group norms for example how to ask questions
Share your screen with the appropriate documents as you speak through them
Because you are missing non-verbal cues be especially attentive to your and others tone and word choices, trying to hear what is not said.
Cheers to happy communicating!