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September: Communicating in the Workplace
Manage Better Through Communication
Good communication. It’s crucial for a productive workplace. The most effective work teams develop open communication and collaboration. They also learn to resolve conflicts among team members. As a manager, you’re in an ideal position to help improve such communication within your workgroup. As your communication skills improve, so will your effectiveness as a manager.
By consistently supporting good communication with team members, you can help the team stay on track and address conflicts and disagreements. Difficult conflicts are inevitable in the workplace. However, if you have an organized strategy for dealing with them, you can help make conflicts serve a constructive rather than destructive purpose.
Seek to understand before being understood: Active listening is an important tool for managers. Team members can become frustrated if their views aren’t being heard, respected and supported.
This issue of Your Source introduces you to techniques that support better workplace communication, including:
- How to identify and work well with your team members’ various communication styles
- How to foster good communication at work, even in difficult situations
- How to keep communication positive in your workgroup
As a manager, you’re a bit like the conductor of a symphony—you’re helping many different kinds of instruments work together to accomplish a larger goal. By listening closely to what’s going on in your workgroup, you can help improve the team’s overall results.
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Log on to access Communicating in the Workplace and other helpful resources in the Spotlight section. There you will find tools that can help you move forward as a manager.
Communication Strategies for Resolving Conflicts
Whenever two or more people get together to do something, there can be disagreement about how it should be done. In the workplace, this means team members may have different ideas about how to reach the workgroup’s goals. But if disagreements are not resolved in a healthy manner, the conflicts can linger, creating tension and disrupting work.
The Value of Conflict
While often not pleasant, conflict is a way that new ideas and solutions emerge. Without conflict, people can grow stale and unresponsive to the environment. Research shows that conflict is a necessary part of group development. It can move the group forward if you know how to confront it.
Create an Environment for Constructive Conflict
It’s important for leaders to encourage open forums where disagreement is expressed honestly, and no one gets attacked on a personal level. If conflicts become personal, you should interrupt the process. Remind team members to focus on resolving work issues, not complaining about individuals.
Have a Conflict Resolution Strategy
Here are some techniques that can be part of your strategy for constructive conflict resolution:
- Confront problems neutrally. Set up time to discuss problems away from the daily work space.
- Treat all participants with respect. Your words can affect listeners positively or negatively. It’s important to be sensitive to others’ input.
- Listen carefully. Focus on and restate each person’s position so you can be sure to understand their point of view.
- Discuss alternative solutions. List all possible solutions to problems. Don’t pass judgment on “brainstormed” ideas. Conflicts should not be competitions.
- Find common ground. Agree to a compromise or solution that everyone in the group understands and can live with.
- Get help when needed. If a problem gets too emotional or out of control, consider asking for help from a neutral third-party mediator (e.g., human resources) in your organization.
- Monitor the fix. Once an agreed upon solution is put in place, track its effectiveness and make changes as needed.