Moving on from our discussion of the various orders of functioning that are followed within the workplace, we’d like to delve deeper into the interactions that take place during the typical 9 to 5 stint. It’s pretty clear from the offset that communication is imperative to a healthy work ethic, and an efficient handling of situations. To understand the causes of a possible gap in communication at the workplace, we must first understand what communication itself is.

In essence, communication is the process of interaction between two or more people through the use of certain verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate emotions and opinions. From this simple definition, it becomes pretty clear that the way we speak, clarify our emotions, and carry ourselves at work is imperative towards helping us reach our highest potential.

We’d like to discuss some of the possible causes of a communication gap at work, and how this relates to employee engagement in the larger scheme of things. Listed below are aspects we feel often lead to a miscommunication or bottleneck that often reduces the efficiency of work within an otherwise productive space:

Fear and Communication

We’ve already discussed the notion of hierarchy, and the implications that this has when it comes to being delegated work, or being on the other end of the spectrum, wherein one delegates work to other people. Fear is something that keeps hierarchy intact. Subordinates in a strict corporate environment often show a sense of fear for their superiors or bosses and often aren’t able to clarify their emotions in a clear, assertive manner to state what they feel.

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This meekness that often resonates with employees often leads to a communication gap. It also leads to the development of negative emotions and repressed feelings arising from this fear, leading to a lower amount of productivity in the workplace. The best way to deal with such instances where one feels hesitant to clarify what they feel is probably to remember that being assertive, and simply stating how you feel in a calm and composed manner will spur a productive discussion towards the resolution of this problem.

The Email Obsession

Some workplaces often conduct all interactions between the various rungs of the corporate hierarchy through emails, even within the workplace. This may lead to a streamlined, digital process that supports the communicative networks within a space, but it also may lead to a miscommunication of instructions, and emotion as well. With respect to the need and nature of a particular task, one must decide the channel of communication that needs to be used in order to administer instructions.

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For example, if a project involving extensive fieldwork is being implemented at a Business Development firm, it probably would not be wise to brief employees about the nature of tasks and scouting they would have to do through an email. Having a short sit-down meeting in order to clarify the process to be followed would be imperative to ensuring success, in order to communicate the zeal and attitude required while conducting fieldwork in an effective manner to those assigned to the task.

The Confrontation and Professionalism Paradox

When we think about the two aforementioned terms with respect to communication, we are often inclined to say that a nasty confrontation is no way to display one’s unwavering professionalism at the workplace. However, one needs to understand that a confrontation need not necessarily be nasty. Taking cues from our thoughts on assertiveness, one must always talk about cases where they feel they’ve been cornered or singled out openly with the individuals concerned rather than fearing the consequences it might have on their image at work. An aggressive outburst followed by a breakdown is obviously not the right protocol to take up in this case.

Image: Guy Harris

However, being assertive about one’s feelings will probably get one to realize that confrontation and professionalism are indeed, two notions that do not really lie at odds with one another. Realizing that a clarification of emotions is miles better than jut ‘letting things slide’ is probably what will make the difference to one’s daily routine at work. Blame and argument are no solutions towards showing professionalism. Taking up a discussion in an assertive, expressive manner is the golden rule.

Unresolved Beliefs and Anxiety

We often forms beliefs about the perceptions that people have of us, or about the nature of proceedings at work. A boss probably suffers from pangs of worry in his cabin, thinking about whether his employees are completing the tasks delegated to them. He may believe and ruminate over the possibility that the work is being handled in a haphazard manner. On the other end of the spectrum, employees who work efficiently may sometimes believe that they aren’t considered competent, or worthy enough to do certain tasks. For example, if an employee isn’t selected to work on a particular project, he or she may ‘catastrophize’ it to think that he or she wasn’t given this opportunity due to their own beliefs about their ‘inefficiency’ or ‘incompetence’.

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We often tend to look at situations in a black and white manner, as either positive or simply negative. however, reading into the grey areas will probably help us understand what the true intent of an individual, or what the beliefs of an individual ┬ámay be! If the editor of a magazine is scrounging to get the final edited draft of a publication in place, the deadlines are probably playing on his or her insecurities to deliver, leading to pangs of anxiety. In this case, a slight outburst is very well possible, due to the large volumes of work and the constraints of time. Employees may experience aggression from the other side, but looking at this in terms of simply ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ won’t help the situation. Understanding that working on a tight deadline leads to heightened stress, and making allowance for the outbursts will probably do everyone good.

 

The aforementioned phenomena that may occur at work, or may be displayed through interaction clearly mark some of the most frequent causes of a communication gap. The notion of assertiveness lies at the backbone of the solution to these issues. We must understand that communication, employee engagement and productivity are factors that are very much hand in hand. One cannot function without the other. Keeping this in mind, clarifying emotions, expressing the need for certain kinds of work, as well as being assertive about one’s preferences and capabilities is what will lead to the ultimate level of transparency at any workplace.

 

An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.