• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
businessday logo


Workplace Communication

Transitioning company management to trust structures

Effective communication is the lifeblood of a thriving workplace. Just as the work environment serves as a microcosm of the vast world of human interaction, each individual has a unique way of getting their thoughts across, weaving an intricate tapestry of communication styles.

Understanding various communication styles is a foundational element of workplace success. When managers, team members and coworkers understand each other, there will be fewer misunderstandings and greater cooperation on projects and throughout the culture.

Let’s take a closer look at different communication styles and how they inform work relationships, employee interactions, and collaborative projects in the workplace.

Read also: Schneider Electric commits to diversity, inclusion in workplace

Overview of communication styles

Unpacking the mosaic of communication styles within any organization can be eye-opening. You immediately become aware that not everyone communicates the same way and may observe how these differences impact employee relationships and productivity.

When we understand how people prefer to give and receive information, we take a significant step towards unity and connectedness, both of which are essential for productive collaboration.

Identifying communication styles

Recognising communication styles is like mastering an intricate language of cues and patterns. You must consider nonverbal cues, like eye contact, hand movements, and facial expressions, as well as how words are chosen and delivered. Listening, too, is a form of communication that often mirrors speaking style, revealing even more layers of our communication persona.

So, let’s dive a little deeper into communication styles and how they play out in the workplace.

Assertive communication style

Assertive communicators are highly confident without being confrontational but often walk the line between passivity and aggression. They are good listeners and adept at navigating the needs of themselves and others and are clear and direct in their interactions.

One of the biggest benefits of assertive communication is that it promotes an open and healthy work environment where colleagues feel heard and respected. They are willing to compromise and usually good at getting to the point.

For those looking to cultivate this style, it’s about balancing between advocating for oneself and considering the greater team dynamic. Practice active listening, make direct eye contact, and always try to balance the group’s needs.

Read also: NBCC holds health walk, sensitises firms on safety in workplace

Passive communication style

Passive communicators shy away from the spotlight, often at the expense of their own needs and wants. This passivity manifests in action and also in the language and tones used. They are usually reluctant to impose themselves on the conversation.

Passive communicators should not be overlooked! Instead, they should be supported by reminding them that they have a voice and encouraging them to speak up for their needs and wants. Because passive individuals can be easily taken advantage of, managers must be aware of the tendency of aggressive individuals to bully them or otherwise diminish their input.

Aggressive communication style

Aggressive communicators are quick to express their thoughts, wants, and needs with little regard for how others might perceive them. This style is a double-edged sword; directness can be good in some situations as it cuts through the noise, but it can be harsh and harmful to relationship dynamics.

Learning to soften this style without sacrificing its value is a delicate skill. The individual must choose cooperation over compulsion, think before they speak, and make a solid effort not to dominate a conversation or talk down to people.

Responding to aggressive types isn’t always easy, as tempers may flare. Ultimately, try to remain calm, focus on the issue, politely communicate your boundaries, and stay empathetic, as there may be an underlying reason for the aggression. If the behaviour continues or is disruptive, involving a third party, such as a manager or HR professional, may be necessary.

Passive-aggressive communication style

Passive-aggressive types have qualities from both styles. They may be outwardly humble, but that façade masks more aggressive sentiments. They avoid direct conflict, and their actions and actual opinions may not align. These traits may manifest in gossip, spreading rumors, being condescending to others, or stonewalling—all unacceptable in a business environment. In extreme situations, they may even try to undermine or sabotage other’s work or involve others in their subterfuge.

Those who identify with this style can work on being more direct and not letting issues fester. When communicating with a passive-aggressive type, focus on the facts, be direct, stay professional, and seek clarification so there is no room for misinterpretation.

What do communication styles in the workplace look like?

Communications styles emerge in meetings, one-on-ones, email threads, and just about every other form of business dialogue. Identifying communication patterns and underlying dynamics can be the key to unlocking the potential of teams, aligning roles with styles, and bridging the gap between departments and personalities.

Read also: Leading forward: Breaking free from micromanagement in the workplace

The power of adaptability
In today’s remote-leaning workplace, communication extends beyond the physical office. While these styles evolve and adapt, their core traits are consistent. Acknowledging different communications styles and being open to change is the key to successfully navigating team dynamics.

How do digital workspaces affect communication?

Remote work has changed the fabric of workplace communication. Digital communication—emails, instant messaging, video calls, etc.—requires an acuity of understanding beyond verbal and nonverbal cues. When we must rely on digital mediums to communicate, brevity is essential. Keep communication concise and to the point, and cultivate the ability to read between the lines in a text or silence when on a call.

Last line
Communication within the workplace is more than a mere exchange of words. It is a blend of styles, personalities, and human intricacies that, when understood, can be leveraged to promote a healthy, connected and positive work environment.