Effective Communication Builds Teams
Effective communication is vital to any area of human interaction. Whether it's between board and senior managers; between customers and staff, or between any two people who need to effect a task.
Effective Communication is the core of team building theory and offers a basis for future team development. However, the most common area of difficulty in organisations (and it's fair to say in relationships) is based on poor intercommunication.
Most people are aware of the 'fight or flight' response - the innate way we react when under stress. Do we either stand and fight our 'enemy' or turn tail and run! This response is graphically illustrated when you consider communication. If you explore an organisation under stress, you will see that there is little true, effective communication.
The atmosphere either becomes more argumentative (fight) or people stop talking to each other and start sending e-mails instead (flight). A common problem is for us to perceive that good communication comes naturally. That it either happens or not! More often than not, effective communication does not happen naturally. Managers must take the initiative in ensuring that efficient systems and patterns of communicating in the work environment are developed. On a one-to-one basis, in teams, in meetings; in fact - everywhere.
What is natural is that people want to communicate.
So what gets in the way of communication?
The root cause of most break downs in communication is that one or more participants becomes defensive. When an individual perceives themselves to be under attack or threatened, they are likely to engage in behaviours which reduce the probability of mutual understanding. A common response is to counter-attack. This in turn leads to the other person feeling threatened and therefore becomes defensive. Communication then becomes blocked at both ends.
Another common response is to withdraw (either physically or psychologically) and thus cut off the perceived threat. The outcome of these behaviours is to reduce the effective exchange of ideas and the possibility of developing solutions to problems.
The basic elements of effective communication should be:
- Actively listen to the person talking.
- Do not assume that you know what they are going to say or how they think or feel.
- Do not make judgements about the content of what they say based on prior knowledge of the person.
- Do not allow yourself to become defensive.
- Check out anything you do not understand.
- Ensure that your intercommunication is at all times Clear Precise Open Honest Supportive and Specific.