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Effective team communication is vital to a productive work environment. In fact, poor team communication is a primary reason for a failed career, according to the University of Northern Iowa. Effective group communication relies on understanding interpersonal communication basics and how they can improve or hinder messages. Interpersonal communication factors that influence effective communication include ability to listen, nonverbal communication, culture and conflict resolution.
Ability to Listen
Effective communication requires sharing ideas. This means not only sharing your ideas, but also listening to ideas from others. Using listening strategies, such as active and reflective listening, helps you to become a good listener. Active listening involves using nonverbal communication, such as eye contact and posture, to help you listen. Reflective listening requires rephrasing what the other person said to ensure that you understood the other person’s idea correctly. For example, if someone says “Scheduling more cashiers should help us keep lines down during the holiday season,” you could respond, “Yes, more cashiers should prevent long lines.”
Group communication works best when members trust each other. Nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language, can establish trust or raise suspicion. It builds trust when the nonverbal messages sent complement the verbal ones. On the other hand, nonverbal communication that contradicts verbal communication indicates trust issues, such as a person who says he just made a stressful decision but seems relaxed.
Biases and prejudices created by culture cause barriers to effective team communication. For instance, a man from a culture that views women as inferior to men might have trouble working as equals with women. Overcoming such barriers involves learning about different cultures and shattering stereotypes. Starting conversations about cultural diversity can increase knowledge and deflate stereotypes, according to Ohio State University. For the example above, this would entail demonstrating to the man his female co-workers are equally capable and deserve respect.
With team communication comes conflict. Conflict will more likely benefit group communication if you confront problems, in a respectful manner, as soon as possible. “I” statements are one way to ensure you discuss issues respectfully without causing others to become defensive. “I” statements put the focus on you rather than the other person. For example, “I feel we need to go into further detail about our marketing plan” would be better than “You didn’t give enough attention to our marketing plan.”
Zachary Fenell is a 2009 graduate of Notre Dame College of Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication with minors in philosophy and writing. Fenell has been writing since 2002, when he joined his high school newspaper, "The Arc Light." In college Fenell won awards for excellence in English and communication.