“If you just communicate, you can get by, but if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.”
Introduction to Effective Methods of Communication
When the word communication comes to mind, people think about exchanging ideas and information through words. But such type of verbal communication is just a small component. In the 21st century, we can access various effective business communication techniques for internal and external audiences. The main methods of communication that businesses can use include traditional business meetings, videoconferencing, and social media. Several tools are available to address audiences who are in locations that are both near and far. Despite much attention from the new effective methods of communication, the value and the relevance of the traditional methods of communication still exist. Thus, several different methods of communication exist, and the determination of the method is right for decision-making.
Different Ways to Communicate Effectively in the Workplace
The different methods of communication commonly used in a workplace are –
1. Verbal Communication
Verbal communication involves the usage of words with the delivery of the intended message. It is a method of effective communication including personal, phone calls, or emails whenever possible. It can be one-on-one, over the phone, or in group settings. The medium of the message, in the case of verbal communication, is oral. Seeing the person with whom face-to-face communication is taking place helps gauge that person’s response by understanding their body language and also assists in active participation in the dialogue. Thus, both written and oral communication are the two main types of verbal communication.
Storytelling is a form of verbal communication that is effective. A vital organizational function is served by it as it helps in the construction of common meanings for the individuals in the organization. Stories assist in clarifying key values and also help in demonstrating the way things are. The story’s tone, strength, and frequency relate to higher organizational commitment. The quality of stories that entrepreneurs tell is related to the capability of securing capital for their organizations. Stories can help to reinforce as well as perpetuate the culture of an organization.
The process is similar, with more skill, reflection, and planning for high-stakes communications compared to daily work interactions. Examples of high-stakes communication include presenting the venture capitalist with a business plan and asking for a raise. Apart from these, several times in our professional lives, we have crucial conversations in which stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions may differ.
2. Written Communication
Written communication is crucial in the workplace. It is everywhere and consists of traditional paper and pen documents and letters, text chats, emails, typed electronic documents, reports, SMS, and anything else, for written symbols like language and documents that are a part of day-to-day business life. Such methods of communication are indispensable for any formal business communication and also for the issue of legal instructions.
The methods of communication that mainly use written communication consist of formal business proposals, press releases, memos, contracts, brochures, handbooks, and the like. How effective the written communication is will depend on the writing style, vocabulary, grammar, and clarity. Written communication is most suitable for detailed instructions, documentation, or remote communication. Some of the written methods of communication include –
Social media tools such as Facebook can be used effectively in organizations to communicate between locations, divisions, departments, and employees. Certain devices, such as Yammer, are specifically designed to create social media networks in the confines of a particular business domain.
Email communication in organizations has become very common and is an essential tool for sharing information with hundreds and thousands of employees. It is usually a significant component of the communication plan. Even though it may not be a replacement for face-to-face or other methods of communication, it is easily accessible and inexpensive.
3. Oral Communication
The other type of verbal communication includes the spoken word, either over the phone or face-to-face, videoconferencing, voice chat, or any other medium. Different types of informal communication, like the casual rumor mill or grapevine, and formal communications, such as conferences and lectures, are the forms of effective oral communication. The use of verbal communication is common in discussions as well as conversations that are informal and casual. How effective oral communication is will depend on speed, volume, pitch, voice modulation, speech clarity, and non-verbal communication like visual cues and body language.
Some of the important oral methods of communication include –
4. Face-to-Face Communication
This is usually the preferred method of communication, although it is only realistic sometimes, especially in organizations in several locations around the globe. However, tools like videoconferencing make face-to-face communication possible and help even large organizations create personal connections between the management and the staff.
Meetings with employees and clients are common in almost all business settings, and now it has become possible to augment them via tools of technology that allow participants in remote locations to participate in the discussions. However, they are not physically present at the meeting site.
Verbal communication is used for clear communication or to compliment or reprimand someone. While using verbal communication, the person needs to be aware of his tone of voice, inflection, and speed. Using sarcasm and angry tones can cause the person you are communicating with to be defensive. While speaking to your team or a group of people, you should ensure that you speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can understand what you are saying. Use a microphone to address a group in a large room. Verbal communication makes conveying thoughts faster and easier and is the most successful method of communication. However, it makes up just 7% of all human contact.
5. Nonverbal methods of Communication
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”
Communication by sending and receiving wordless messages is a part of nonverbal communication. Such messages are a vital part of any communication and generally reinforce verbal communication. However, they can also convey their feelings and thoughts.
Physical Nonverbal Communication
Physical Nonverbal Communication or body language consists of body posture, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures like a pointed finger, wave, and the like, touch, tone of voice, overall movements of the body, and others. It can be relied on for sign language.
You need to be aware of nonverbal communication. Your movements, eye contact, gestures, and the way you sit and stand all help convey a message. Use appropriate gestures, and your hands should be at your sides. You should avoid fidgeting as it is distracting, and avoid crossed arms as it signals being closed off or angry. You should always look into the eyes of the person to whom you are speaking but never stare or roll your eyes when they are talking.
The most common among all nonverbal communication is facial expressions. For example, a frown or a smile conveys emotions that are distinct and difficult to express using verbal communication. Research has shown that nonverbal cues, body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body stance account for almost 55% of all communication. As per the research, only 7% of the message’s comprehension relies on the actual words of the sender, 38% is based on para language (the volume, tone, and pace of speech), while 55% depends on nonverbal cues (body language).
Research has also revealed that nonverbal cues may help you get the job of your dreams. Judges who examined the applicants’ videotapes could assess their social skills even with no audio. They evaluated the gesturing rate, time spent talking, and dress code to determine the eligibility of the candidates. Thus, it is essential to consider how one appears in the business and what one says. Our facial muscles convey our true emotions like a silent message without uttering a word. A change in our emotional state is visible in our facial expressions.
For example, if we focus on being confident before an interview, our faces will convey our confidence to the interviewer. Putting up a smile even when feeling stressed can reduce stress levels.
A significant component of nonverbal communication is when something is said instead of displayed. This consists of a style of speaking, tone, emotion, stress, pitch, intonation, and voice quality. It helps in communicating interest, approval, or absence. The tone of the voice accounts for 38% of all communications.
The other nonverbal communication forms generally express personal development. These consist of the following –
- Aesthetic communication or creative expressions like painting, dancing, etc.
- Appearance or the style of grooming and dressing communicates a person’s personality.
- Space languages like landscapes and portraits broadcast taste as well as social status.
- Symbols like ego-building, status, and religious symbols.
To ensure the use of effective methods of communication, align the tone, appearance, and body language with the words. Research has indicated that when individuals lie, they blink more often, shrug, and shift their weight. The tone is another element of communication that is nonverbal. A different tone can alter the message’s perceived meaning. The emphasis on a particular word illustrates how a tone can convey much information.
6. Visual Communication
Visual communication is the third method of communication that takes place through the help of visual aids like color, illustration, graphic design, drawing, typography, signs, and other electronic resources.
Visual communication comprising charts and graphs reinforces verbal communication methods and, in most situations, replaces non-verbal communication completely. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage that shows that verbal communication can, on several occasions, be more powerful than nonverbal communication. The developments in technology have made the expression of visual communication easier than it was before.
There is no one correct way of communicating, but you need to know what is appropriate in that situation. The chosen methods of communication depend on the scenario. Put yourself in the shoes of others and try empathy. To communicate a certain message, consider how you would interpret it. Using your good judgment regarding the situation and being considerate of your employees will make you an effective communicator. A better understanding of the various effective communication styles and methods will help in knowing and dealing with people, clear any misconceptions or misunderstandings that may exist, and thus contribute to the organization’s success.