Effective Communication Essential to Workplace Success

  • Published
  • By Janet Tremelling
  • 558th Aircraft Sustainment Group
The most common answer to the question "what is your number one problem or challenge at work, home, school or in relationships in general? " is COMMUNICATION.  I'm sure this has happened to you: someone has done just the opposite of what you wanted them to do. How can that be when you told them exactly what you wanted? It happens because communication, the process of transmitting information from one individual to another, is a very complex process with many opportunities for error and/or failure. 

I've found throughout my career that communication is essential for success and is often a main contributor to problems, issues, concerns, and failure. Why is communication so complex? Because communication is a two-way process with people sending and receiving messages to and from each other and opportunities exist for the meaning of the message to be lost in the transmission.
There are a broad number of sources that can interfere and complicate the communication process. The choice of words affects the quality of communication. There are more than 900,000 words in the English language, many with multiple meanings, and more are being added every day. The same words will be interpreted differently by individuals. For effective communication to occur your message must be received and understood. 

To keep work flowing people must be able to effectively communicate with each other. Misunderstandings can lead to delays and stifle our ability to successfully accomplish tasks and projects. Good listening skills are important to understanding what is being communicated. 

In today's environment, much of our communication involves less conversation and more electronic sharing of information such as e-mail or other means of written correspondence. Messages and e-mails are subject to being misunderstood, misplaced, or simply not read. 

There are a few basic elements that can help you effectively communicate in the workplace. One element is to be direct and concise. People are too busy to wade through multiple paragraphs to get to the most important points you are trying to convey. Make sure you include them up front. 

Another important aspect of communication is clarity. People need to be able to understand what you are saying. Using excessive language to appear more intelligent or important can often have the counter effect. 

It's always a good idea to proofread written material. Read and re-read before you send it. Does it send the message you intend? Is it clear? Can it be misunderstood somehow? Is there a better way to write it? Use spell check. Sending something forward containing spelling and grammar errors can make you appear sloppy and unprofessional. 

Remember that written documentation is a record and can be referred to in the future. Choose your words carefully, clearly, and without emotion. For some items, written correspondence may not be the best form of communication, you may need to consider a phone call or a personal meeting. 

The way we communicate has an impact on our ability to successfully accomplish workload, get along with others, avoid conflict and solve problems. Good communication skills are needed by everyone. Effective communication can improve workplace relationships and workplace efficiency.