Being able to connect, contribute and collaborate for business helps us to move forward. All of this, and so much more, is achieved through clear and concise communication that, if we’re honest, we often take for granted.
Face-to-face communication is great for getting things done in business, but we’re also fortunate that we can take advantage of modern technology to also get our message across. The tools and services that we have available to us today are a big part of how business works, and it’s through a combination of face-to-face interaction and technology that we’re able to collaborate.
But what happens when there’s a communication breakdown? What are the main causes and what impact does it have on our business?
What are the common communication issues in the workplace?
We conducted our own survey (Amphora July 2020) that focused on issues with communication in business and the impact that it had on how we work. We spoke to many high-level staff across a range of industries and it was clear that several scenarios happened frequently enough to hamper their ability to be progressive and productive in business.
Our survey identified that some scenarios occurred frequently in the workplace, including:
- Conflict between team members or teams
- Poor listening
- Dissatisfactory conversations or meetings
- Distraction from core focus/purpose
- Poor communication
- Only those who shout loudest get heard
- Stereotyping of individuals and/or teams
While our survey identified that all the issues continue to occur to some degree, the most prevalent cases were the first five. And of those surveyed:
- A staggering 86% saw at least some occurrences of conflict between team members or teams
- The vast majority (84%) highlighted at least some evidence of poor listening in their organisation
- While 87% expressed their concern for poor communication within their organisation with 13% saying that it constantly occurred.
What impact does poor communication have in business?
Poor communication, whether it be through technology or face-to-face, can harm any business when it comes to productivity, innovation and collaboration. From not being able to properly understand the needs of customers to not allowing colleagues to constructively work together, poor communication impacts everything.
The real impact on business
We saw from our survey results that there was a correlation between the frequency of issues and their impact within a business. In particular, we saw evidence that those surveyed believed poor communication was a real issue, with 49% telling us that they believed it had either a significant or severe impact on the business and only 12% believing that it didn’t have any.
One intriguing result that the survey highlighted was that only 17% of people believed that conflict between team members or teams didn’t directly interfere with productivity, innovation or collaboration. An interesting anecdote, especially when you consider only 14% told us that they didn’t believe these conflicts took place.
From the scenarios that we highlighted in the bullet points above, it was again, only the bottom two (‘Only those who shout loudest get heard’ and ‘Stereotyping of individuals and/or teams’) that didn’t impact business practices as much as the other five. 37% deemed that those who shouted loudest didn’t impact the business while that figure was at 31% for stereotyping, with the other scenarios all seeing their ‘no impact’ figure settle between 12% and 15%.
What we can take from this is that some clear concerns and issues revolve around basic communication needs like listening, focusing and poor communication practices.
But how can you improve communication and have better conversations in your business?
Through simple but effective tools that bring better conversations into your workplace.
How to improve communication in the workplace
Over 98% of people surveyed actively wanted to solve their issues to minimise the issues that they’ve encountered in their business. While it might be impossible to completely eradicate poor listening habits and distractions, by using a few of our tips, you can go a long way to make your business more focused and productive.
Plan and prepare
Planning and preparing a conversation is vital to how it will go. Preparing for the outcome you want to achieve is important, but so is using the right environment and the timing of the conversation.
Take some time to plan and prepare your conversation, particularly important for difficult conversations but also helpful for organising and planning work that needs to be done.
Humans aren’t robots, we often act on emotion, which at times can lead to conversations that don’t go to plan. Recognise that many people in your business lead high-pressure lives that can leave us feeling emotionally vulnerable and impact what we say and do, whether we want it to or not.
Don’t hold a business conversation when you’re angry, upset or in any other extreme emotional state. If you don’t feel at your best, it might be best putting the conversation off in the short-term and returning to it at a later date.
You can often find out more about a person and what their intentions might be by just listening. While that might sound obvious, some people will talk and overwhelm the other person, not allowing them to get a word in.
Take some time to give the other person some space and focus on the words that they’re saying, even if you don’t agree with them. By taking a step back and listening, you’ll not only make people feel heard but also allow them to share their uninterrupted thoughts and who knows, you might hear something that completely changes your day.
To really understand how to communicate effectively, why not take the Better Conversations course.
Built from the ground up, the Better Conversations course is designed to give individuals or teams all the tools they need to free themselves from the confines of poor communication. Eliminate the pitfalls of unclear and uncomfortable conversations and learn how to get the most out of your communication strategies.
Survey Source: Independent survey of 200 Director level executives July 2020, Amphora Solutions Ltd.