Supportive Communication (Managers) Essay, Research Paper
Supportive Communication (Managers)
Most managers in the workplace find that the most important factor in promotability is effective communication. With this in mind it is strange to see that many managers and employees within organizations lack effective communication skills. In fact, managers still find effective communication to be the biggest problem in organizations. Why do so many people lack these skills? This is often due to the fact that employees are not aware of the importance and their lack of this skill. Employers in the organizations of today are stressing the importance of communication more and more. Emphasis is placed on communication being clear by being transmitted strongly with precise images.
The foundation of effective communication is supportive communication. This form of communication preserves relationships while addressing the problem in the most effective manner. There are eight attributes of supportive communication.
? The first is to be problem-oriented, not person oriented. You should always direct the statement towards the problem, staying away from comments that become personal. Statements that become personal cause the person to resist your suggestions.
? Be congruent, not incongruent. Statements should reflect the true feelings of the one expressing them without angering or insulting the one that it is directed towards. Managers that hide their true feelings and opinions cause subordinates to believe that there is something hidden about themselves that the manager does not wish for them to know. Congruence in communication leads to more satisfaction in relationships.
? Make statements descriptive, not evaluative. Statements should not be made to evaluate the person. It should describe events and solutions. When statements are made to evaluate the person it invokes feelings of defensiveness. No person likes his or her behavior to be judged or labeled. Here are some simple steps for descriptive communication:
I. Describe objectively the event, behavior, or circumstance.
II. Focus on the behavior and your reaction, not on the other person s attributes.
III. Focus on solutions.
? Be validating, not invalidating. Validating statements make people feel important and needed. Invalidating statements make people lose confidence in themselves and cause them to see themselves as worthless. There are four types of validation.
I. Respectful communication is the type of communication where the listener feels worthwhile and an equal.
II. Flexibility in communication is where the communicator accepts that there are alternatives to a problem and allows the listener to give input.
III. Two-way communication is where the listener is given a chance to express their opinions through flexibility and respectful communication.
IV. Identifying areas of agreement gives the listener a sense of self worth.
There are four main types of invalidation.
I. Superiority oriented communication is the type that makes the listener feel inferior and not informed about the subject at hand.
II. Rigidity is where the communication is portrayed as being absolute, where the listener is made to conform to an absolute point of view.
III. Indifference is the form of invalidation where the communicator makes the other person feel that their feelings are not cared about.
IV. Imperviousness is where the communicator does not acknowledge the listener s feelings or opinions.
? Make communication specific, not global. When statements are made to be specific, the listener will understand it better and be able to apply to the wrong behavior more effectively.
? Be conjunctive, not disjunctive. Communication should always flow so that the meaning is joined to previous meanings in some way.
? Always make statements owned, not disowned. You should always take accountability for ones statements. Doing this builds trust in the listener.
? There should always be supportive listening, not one-way listening. One cannot learn from or about the listener if they do not listen themselves. There are four main types of responses that may be generated by the listener:
I. An advising response is one that gives the communicator direction or a personal opinion about the problem.
II. A deflecting response is where the listener switches the problem to one of their own. This is most appropriate when the communicator needs comfort and support for their opinions or decision. This type of response is usually done through the use of an analogy or a whole new topic.
III. Reflecting responses are used to direct back the same statement to show understanding or acceptance.
IV. Probing responses are used to gather more information about a statement made by the communicator. It is often used when a statement is unclear or not understood. There are four main types of probing responses:
i. Elaboration probe simply is a request for more information.
ii. Clarification probe is a request for more clarity.
iii. Reflective probe is the repetition of the communicator s statement in the form of a question to gain more information.
iv. Repetition probe is when the listener repeats what was communicated by the communicator to ensure that he/she received the statement accurately.
Using all of these attributes is easier said than done. One must be aware of one s own errors in communicating and practice. When all attributes are used effectively, communication is greatly enhanced.
When supportive communication is not used effectively, two major obstacles occur. The first is defensiveness. When one of the parties feels endangered or punished by the communication they feel inclined to lash back at the communicator. The other major obstacle is disconfirmation. When one of the parties feel that their self worth is being questioned they often show off and boast to build themselves up. Both of these obstacles create barriers in the completion of tasks and in the task of decision making.
Supportive communication is very important when coaching or counseling other people. Coaching involves any type of help such as advice and support that increase the work skills of another. Counseling involves the form of help that benefits the listeners attitudes. Both of these forms of communication are very important in rewarding positive performance and correcting behaviors or attitudes.
Why is communication so important in organizations? Failing to communicate effectively often causes lack of cooperation, poor accuracy, low productivity, tension, gossip, rumors, increased turnover, absenteeism and tardiness. There are eight other techniques to improve communication in the workplace.
? Focus on the positive. If managers are always telling their workers about things that they are doing wrong they will lose self-esteem. Tell them about the good that they do as well.
? Always listen to workers. Their feedback can be invaluable at times and listening makes workers feel valued.
? Treat employees with respect.
? Always be specific with instructions making sure that the listener understands.
? Relying on memos and bulletins is often cold and impersonal. Use a more personal approach and talk to employees.
? Knowledge should be shared to help employees, not hidden to control them.
? Keep an open door policy for all employees.
? Give employees the chance to disagree with managers and come up with new ideas.
Source is from: Developing Management Skills Fourth Edition; David A. Whetten, Kim S. Cameron; Copyright 1998 Addison Wesley.