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Organizational communication is a broad concept studied by many authors due to its multiple fulfilled roles. Andrioni and Popp (2018) define Organizational communication as the relationship between the members of the organizations to successfully achieve organizational goals. Additionally, multiple investigations have found out that “an efficient internal communication contributed to the increase of the employees’ workplace satisfaction, to their morale, to productivity, to commitment, to trust and to learning”. This shows that organizational communication plays a central and dynamic role in the operations of the organization. This essay will explore specific communication factors that can lead to both successful and unsuccessful communication within an organization. Organizational structure, active listening, assertion skill, and collaborative negotiation will be discussed and analyzed as factors that lead to a successful communication. Furthermore, I will argue and analyze ineffective conflict management and negative nonverbal communication that fosters unsuccessful communication.
The first factor that fostered effective organizational communication is the active listening, which is defined as a difficult discipline that requires the listener to get inside the speaker, so to understand the speaker’s points of view. One of the essential methods in active listening is an attending listening, which is a method to show an undivided attention to the speaker without passing a judgment. This was reflected by my supervisor, Ken, through leaning forward toward me in a relaxed way and avoiding moving a lot. Additionally, Robertson (2005) proposes that active listening comprises communicating in an environment without any distractions or interruptions, which was what Ken did by inviting me to a meeting room. This environment encouraged me to speak relaxed, without being pressured. As I talk, Ken repeatedly reacted to my words with “hmmm” and “okay”. These verbal attending responses help to demonstrate his interests and full comprehension of the message conveyed with a minimum distraction.
Overall, the fact that Ken maintained a respectful demeanor led Ken and I build a good relationship with an empathy and trust, which makes the speaker easier to open up to the listener. The evidence shows that active listening leads to a successful communication.
The second factor that encouraged a successful communication is the organizational structure. Organizational structure is defined as a unique feature of an organization that shapes its communication process. My firm had a flat organizational structure, which is a decentralized organization with no level of management between staff level employees and management. A research has determined that flat organizational structure is the best structure for communication, as it allows an informal communication channel, where the communication tends to be more personal between members of the organizations. Ken approached me without any communication resistance and discussed my personal concern face-to-face. Additionally, the decentralized organization allows to reduce power distance between the management and the employees and to develop an open relationship. I was able to speak out my worries without feeling any fear to speak out. Therefore, the flat, decentralized structure enabled low barrier communication and enabled a less rigid environment, which led to a successful communication.
The final factor is the assertion skill, which Warland, McKellar, & Diaz (2014) defines as a statement made by an individual through the expression of his own feeling or thoughts without invading but recognizing and respecting others’ feelings or thoughts. My supervisor, Ken had actively performed this skill by being affirmative to my concern when giving feedback. He had used the STAR, an acronym for positive feedback that confirms behavior or outcomes. It gives a positive constructive feedback about the situation, the action the speaker is about to comment on, and give the result that can be expected from what the speaker did. Since Ken gave me a specific reason to why he approves my work, I was able to agree to his feedback. As stated by Omura, Maguire, Levett-Jones, & Stone (2017), assertive communication can improve the performance of the employees and improve employees’ failures to speak up when they have problems or concerns in the work. On the other hand, this behavior can sometimes be confused with an aggressive behavior, but the main difference is that a person demonstrating an aggressive behavior has no concern to others and only thinking to solve the problem. If Ken had aggressively said “Your job is good, your worries is a waste of time”, my feelings would have been hurt and my trust toward Ken would have disappeared. Therefore, I believe that Ken had successfully shown an assertion skill, and this led to a successful communication.
The first factor which led to an unsuccessful communication is the conflict management, which is defined as the way you manage and control a conflict between two people and a sensitive factor that can lead to an escalation of the conflict or worsening of the relationship. When I aggressively negotiated to Steve to give me the easiest task, I used a competing negotiation style. Competing negotiation style is used when one party try to control the other party with an egocentric self-interest, with its goal to win over the competitor by gaining more profits and without any sharing. In the example, I was only thinking about myself trying to get the less amount of work over Steve and without knowing how hard it will be for him by losing the negotiation. When I spoke loudly by pointing my finger at Steve to seek his attention, I was self-exposing, which is a personal negotiating styles that try to be the center of the situation. At the end of the negotiation, both of us showed a flight response, from Steve escaping from the situation, and me trying to avoid what happened without apologizing to Steve. When one or both of the parties show a flight response, the conflict will be stopped for an instant and likely to arise again in the future. And most of the time, the conflict ends up being unsolved or ends with an undesired outcome. This ineffective conflict management between individuals leads to a deficiency of trust, commitment, and satisfaction. The misuse of negotiation has resulted in an unsuccessful communication, breaking our relationship without solving any problems.
Another factor is the use of inappropriate nonverbal actions. Nonverbal actions is a series of codes and signs that are combined and delivered from the source to the listener. Some researchers claim that the information is transmitted in a proportion of 82 percent by nonverbal aspects and only 18 percent by words and that it is a very powerful aspect as it shows the truth unlike words, where people can easily lie. In my scenario, I had shown kinesics behaviors several times, which comprises of aspects such as body posture and hand movement. As I stood up, leaned forward, and pointed a finger at Steve, I tried to dominate Steve and made him shrunk. Additionally, staring at him with an angry face is a “general behavioral inhibition”, which made Steve feel pressured when making a response. As stated by Tracy, Randles, & Steckler (2015), these obvious anger expressions make the receiver avoid or distance oneself from the expresser. This is why Steve had escaped from the room after I expressed all of the anger to him. Furthermore, when I shouted at Steve, I have shouted in a loud and high-pitched voice in an angry and aggressive manner. People should avoid talking this way, since it can also make the listener angry, with the feeling of being accused unjustly. Steve had definitely felt angry at me shouting at him without asking him for a calm discussion. All of these uses of negative nonverbal communication led to an unsuccessful communication.
After analyzing the unsuccessful communication scenario, I realized that there are many parts in the scenario that I could have done them differently. To begin, I should have shown high concerns for both Steve and me, and then use the collaborating negotiation style, without being selfish. Collaborating negotiation focuses on finding and developing the best solutions for both of the parties. I would have clearly explained to Steve the fact that both of us are busy, and gently asked if it is possible to equally divide the work. When Ken left the room after hearing my shout, I shouldn’t have shown a flight response like Steve, but a flow response, which is to appropriately acknowledge and react to the conflict situation. I could have either contacted him or went to meet him to apologize for the aggressive action I took. After that, suggest a meetup to calmly discuss for a solution that none of us get disadvantaged. The most important thing I should have considered was the relationship between Steve and I. These actions could have persuaded Ken to discuss and complete the task. I believe that these actions would have completely changed the outcome of the scenario and led to a successful communication. I should have also used positive nonverbal actions toward Steve, without emphasizing all of my anger. When Steve complained about the task, I should have stayed seated, without any finger gestures. Instead of staring at him with an angry face, I should have shown a relaxed facial expression, which is me smiling and looking at him with a soft eye shape. This would have made Steve attentive to listen to my opinion without feeling humiliated, and consider discussing a solution to solve the problem. I should have also changed my vocal qualities to a lower volume and spoke with an even speed and pitch. Vocalization is an essential factor when trying to communicate successfully because individuals catch the speaker’s emotions faster through vocalizations than language. This could have reduced the strained and heavy atmosphere between us and made up a better environment. I consider these changes necessary to successfully communicate.
To conclude, this paper highlighted a range of factors that can promote successful organizational communication, as well as ineffective organizational communication. The evidence and analysis prove that active skill, organizations structure, and assertion skill have a strong link to a successful communication. When communicating, it is important for the listener and the speaker to be in an environment that encourages them a communication without barriers. Additionally, the listener should not just listen, but fully understand the content and the feelings of the speaker and demonstrate it so that the speaker can open up. Conversely, an ineffective conflict management and the use of negative non-verbal actions will lead to an unsuccessful communication. It is improper for one party to only consider about oneself, and to directly show one’s emotions through facial expression or voice. Overall, organizations should be careful when communicating, as ineffective communication can lead to a severe damage to the relationship or making the problem worse.
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