The modern world has armed us with technology that has revolutionized communication. We have more to say than ever before and many mediums to use to say it.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that communication has improved. In fact, new technologies, diminished attention spans and information overload have worsened communication problems in our personal as well as professional lives.
Communication in the workplace is becoming increasingly fragmented because we’re too distracted to really listen to what the other person is saying. Instead of practicing active listening in work meetings, calls and presentations, we are often too busy checking our phones, moving on to the next conversation, or thinking about a dozen things at the same time.
It’s important to remember that active listening is a critical skill in the workplace. It builds trust among colleagues, increases productivity and helps create an open work environment.
You can learn the art of listening attentively in Harappa Education’s Listening Actively course. The Harappa EAR–Empathy, Authenticity, Respect–of Listening framework helps you understand how you can make the speaker feel respected and valued by paying close attention to them. The course will also help you learn to recall past conversations accurately, stay calm during difficult conversations and develop the confidence to tackle communication errors.
Communications Issues In The Workplace
Communication problems in organizations can stem from internal and external factors. Internal factors include one’s prejudice, preconceived ideas and other distortions while listening to someone. External factors could be disturbances in the environment or problems in the medium being used to communicate. These disturbances put together can cause massive communication problems in the workplace.
At work, we interact with peers, juniors and seniors daily. We are working from home and communicating virtually, but our channels of communication before the COVID-19 crisis were very different. Workplace interactions and communications took place through water cooler conversations, in conference room meetings and informal catch-ups in the break room.
Every conversation has its own set of communication issues. But one of the biggest communication problems is not listening well. One can speak impactfully, efficiently and accurately, but if the listener does not listen attentively there will be a communication breakdown.
Here’s a list of communication problems that you find in the workplace:
Filtered listening occurs when the listener applies filters in their mind even before the speaker starts speaking. If you judge the speaker based on attributes like gender and religious beliefs you are likely to filter their words through the lens of your bias. Processing someone’s communication using such preconceived notions will doubtless cause communication errors.
Stereotyping is a common communication mistake that listeners make by generalizing people into large homogeneous groups based on arbitrary factors. For example, one may believe that everyone who belongs to a particular city or region will think or act the same way. Objectivity and attention go out the window in stereotype-based listening. The listener tends to draw conclusions based on their perception rather than the speaker’s words.
If five people are talking all at once, no one will be able to get their point across. This is why good communication skills involve patiently listening to the speaker and taking turns to talk. However, people have become so restless and eager to move on to the next subject these days that interrupting conversations is almost normal behavior.
Interruptions don’t just hamper communication. They can also spoil a relationship or the speaker’s self-esteem. Communication errors such as interruptions can make the speaker feel dejected and even keep them from participating in future meetings.
If you think that you’re the best orator out there, you might be making the mistake of monopolizing conversations. This is a common communication mistake. If you hijack a conversation, rest assured that your listeners will soon lose interest in your monologue. A conversation is built on mutual respect and trust. Great speakers must learn to be good listeners if they want to be truly effective communicators. It is important to learn to respect the other person and give them room to put forth their ideas and opinions.
Ours is a ‘digital-first’ world. We live out most of our days on social media: Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, and so on. We may have become used to it, but this overreliance on social media has led to a deterioration in our communication skills. To begin with, social media has severely lowered our attention span. We also tend to think more about social media conversations instead of focusing on real-life interactions.
Have you noticed someone starting to fidget or grow impatient during a conversation because they can’t wait to check their phones for social media updates? If we’re away from our notifications for too long it impacts our ability to listen and be present during a conversation. You can resolve such communication problems caused by digital interference by paying more attention.
Learn To Listen Well
A conversation or a dialogue demands presence of mind, genuine openness and curiosity, mutual respect and empathy. The next time someone pours their heart out to you, try to listen with all your mind instead of thinking about something else. It will make a world of difference to your communication and will deepen the bond you share.
Harappa Education’s Listening Actively course has concepts and frameworks you can use to learn the basics of active listening. Good listening is not just about hearing the words said. It is also about responding appropriately and accurately to the speaker and asking the right questions to keep the conversation going.
Active listening is as much an acquired skill as is writing, painting, or dancing. It demands attention to detail, a willingness to learn, and complete dedication. Sign up to learn how to navigate and overcome communication problems in the workplace.
Explore the skills & topics such as Active Listening, Listening Barriers, Barriers of Communication, 7 C’s of Communication & Elements of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section and overcome communication problems.