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Interactions in the workplace offer a distinctive environment for communication. Businesses are designed around hierarchy and a focus on efficiency that offer different rules and opportunities for communicating as opposed to other types of relationships.
Understanding the environment of a business organization, the definition of communication between coworkers and the specifics of effective coworker communication can allow for relationships in the workplace to be improved. Efforts made to strengthen workplace relationships can ultimately lead to an increase in job satisfaction and workplace efficiency.
Communication in general has been defined in many different ways. An exchange of information, transferal of ideas and a conveying of beliefs and feelings are all ways that communication can be described. The authors of "Communication Counts: Getting it Right in College and Life" define communication as "negotiating symbolic meaning." Regardless of the specific chosen definition, there is some form of information exchange taking place in basic communication.
Once communication is moved into the workplace, the definition becomes more specific because the explicit context for communication has been established. Communication in the workplace always will have the business environment as the backdrop for the exchange, regardless of the actual content of the communication. Rules, roles and customs for communication are all dependent on the context of the business.
An important aspect to consider when working to improve workplace communication between coworkers is the issues of boundaries. Members in an organization are assembled for a purpose, and certain boundaries regarding the development of relationships between members are implied by that purpose and the ensuing structure that develops. In some businesses, interpersonal relationships are discouraged, with the socialization of coworkers being limited to the task-related interactions occurring during the workday. An important first step to improving the communication between coworkers is understanding the specific environment of a business organization and how relationships are regulated within that climate.
For a business workplace to operate effectively, the individual coworkers need to have created effective business relationships, increasing the likelihood of workplace operations to function efficiently. The definition for communication between coworkers needs to address the necessity for functional relationships. Therefore, communication between organizational members in the workplace can be defined as developing and maintaining functional relationships through an exchange of feelings and ideas.
Effective communication between coworkers in a business requires the development of relationships focusing on trust. The employees of a business are the building blocks that keep the organization together, so creating trustful relationships will increase the likelihood of coworkers working together more efficiently. In addition, supervisors are more likely to offer increased responsibility to those workers who are considered trustworthy.
Respect Between Coworkers
Treating all others in an organization with respect, regardless of rank, will improve communication relationships in the workplace. Every level of hierarchy is important to a business structure, so offering respectful treatment of those at all levels will develop crucial relationships that may be necessary for later success.
Disagreements and conflicts will emerge in the workplace, and employees willing to approach them with a desire to resolve will be most successful. Responding to disagreements with intent to clarify and understand the disagreement before working to solve them will be much more effective than quickly reacting to conflicts as competitions that must be won. Thoughtfully approaching conflict will increase job satisfaction among coworkers and may lead to advancement in the business environment.
Willingness to take responsibility for personal actions and mistakes is critical for effective communication between coworkers. Human error will occur, and owning up to those errors will communicate to others a desire to fix problems rather than hide them. Refusal to accept and apologize will create strain in relationships between members of a business organization, increasingly the likelihood for dishonesty and conflict.
- "Communication Counts: Getting it Right in College and Life"; David Worley, Debra Worley and Laura Soldner; 2009
Ross Lane began writing in 2009 with work published on the website GameObserver. He is a communication instructor at Boise State University and he received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in communication and journalism from Boise State.