Unit 2: Workplace Communication
Employees are regularly expected to interpret information correctly and communicate with their colleagues, customers, and clients in a respectful manner. Effective communication can increase motivation and create a positive work environment. Even so, one of the leading causes of conflict in the workplace is a lack of adequate or clear communication. Miscommunication can arise from a number of sources, including poor listening skills, misinformation, and misinterpreting verbal, nonverbal, and virtual messages. In this unit, we explore ways to avoid communication errors, since they can lead to disastrous results if left unrecognized and unchecked.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- describe your responsibilities as a communicator;
- describe strategies to improve verbal communication;
- describe nonverbal communication and its role in the communication process;
- explain the importance of active listening and active reading;
- describe ways to use technology to enhance a small business;
- differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate situations to use e-mail;
- describe important components of an effective e-mail;
- describe the five stages of a conversation; and
- describe difficulties encountered in professional telephone communication.
- describe your responsibilities as a communicator;
2.1: Verbal Communication
Have you ever had to clarify something you said that was misunderstood? If we really knew how our words affected our audience, we might never utter a sound! In business communication, our goal should be to offer a clear and concise message. A prepared communicator is organized, clear, concise, and punctual. A responsible communicator is also ethical and treats people equally and respectfully.
Responsible communicators should be prepared and ethical. They also practice the golden rule, which we discussed in Unit 1. Read this article and review the exercises. What do you think about these scenarios?
Using clichés, jargon, slang, sexist and racist language, euphemisms, and doublespeak can create misunderstandings and miscommunication. We need to remove these barriers to make sure those who communicate with us can trust us. Read this article for a description of each type of barrier, examples of how they might be used, and suggestions for more effective ways to express yourself.
This article gives six strategies for improving your verbal communication. For example, if you plan to use a term that may be unfamiliar to your audience, you should define the term or use a different word or phrase. The authors discuss aspects to effective verbal communication, such as audience, tone, checking for understanding, and aiming for results.
2.2: Facial Expressions and Body Language
If your verbal communication conflicts with your nonverbal messages, you may confuse the listener and make yourself more difficult to understand.
Read this article for an overview of how your body language, facial expressions, and other nonverbal expressions affect others.
2.3: Active Listening
Communication involves sharing and understanding meaning. Inattention to what a speaker or author is saying or writing causes us to miss much of what the other person wants to share. It takes effort to listen and read attentively.
Read this article to learn how to become a better listener. The author offers some techniques for active listening and reading, and advice for how to respond in difficult situations.
2.4 Using Technology
Small businesses and start-ups create a lot of economic energy in today's business environment. Technology allows business newcomers who are usually short on staff to fulfill multiple roles, such as social media managers, human resource managers, and marketing experts, until they can delegate these responsibilities to future employees. Technology helps us be competitive, while those who avoid high- and low-tech solutions frequently miss out on opportunities.
Read this article for some tips on how to use technology to enhance your small business.
2.5: Using Email Appropriately
We use email to communicate with our clients, partners, and co-workers across the world. However, there is still room for misunderstanding, especially since there is usually a lag time between when the message is sent, read, and when questions can be answered. To avoid confusion, your writing should always be clear and brief. You should write a clear subject line, make your point, specify the response you want, and use pointers.
Read this article on how to use email properly in the workplace. Pay attention to the examples of good and bad email writing.
2.6: Speaking on the Phone
When we speak on the phone, we rarely consider how our voice influences our message. Managers, coworkers, and customers expect you to show a high level of conversational skill. They have little patience with people who do not have professional phone skills.
Read this article to learn a few strategies for effective conversation. Some employees have the additional challenge of overcoming their tendency to condense their communication with written abbreviations and symbols, which can be useful when texting. This article gives many helpful conversation techniques that you can use to improve your communication skills.
Cell phone etiquette is less about convenience and more about courtesy and respect for others. This video gives techniques to help you make a favorable impression, both on the phone and in person.
Do you feel like you have to answer every phone call? You are not alone. This article asks five questions about cell phone addiction, discusses cell phone etiquette, and gives advice to avoid several types of cell phone faux pas.
2.7: Using Videoconferencing
Today, most businesses use videoconferencing applications like Zoom, GoToMeeting or WebEx to conduct virtual meetings with employees and guests located in remote locations. We need to be mindful of the unique challenges these collaborative spaces bring, so participants feel welcome and are able to contribute effectively to the discussion.
Not surprisingly, successful communication relies on many of the same concepts of etiquette we have already explored in this course. In this environment, however, careful preparation is especially important. As a facilitator, presenter, or attendee, you are responsible for ensuring you can access the conference link, you are familiar with the conferencing controls, and your audio and video connections are working properly.
Read this article, which gives six tips to help minimize lost productivity and reduce distractions that result from poor participant etiquette and lack of preparation.
Do you need to meet face-to-face by video? Perhaps your co-workers or clients would prefer to receive an email, Google Doc, or other asynchronous communication. So many of our schedules are overloaded with meetings and other commitments. In this article, Betsy Church offers five tips to master the art of video calls, including how to respect the time of others.
This infographic offers 10 tips for videoconferencing etiquette.
Unit 2 Assessment
- Receive a grade
Take this assessment to see how well you understood this unit.
- This assessment does not count towards your grade. It is just for practice!
- You will see the correct answers when you submit your answers. Use this to help you study for the final exam!
- You can take this assessment as many times as you want, whenever you want.