Tag: Communication

Communicating with Your Team – Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Non-Verbal Communication

Your body language, voice intonation and use of silence can speak louder than the words you use. By improving on your non-verbal communication skills, you can ensure that you are sending the right message to your team.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Communicating Through Your Body Language

Body language includes your posture, facial expression, gestures, and bodily movements. More often than not your team will pay more attention to your body language than to what you are saying. If one’s body language is inconsistent with the verbal message, the verbal message loses credibility.

Body language includes the following aspects:

  • Eye contact is one of the most crucial aspects of body language. Steady eye contact indicates that you are paying attention while the lack of eye contact can be viewed as defensiveness, nervousness or social withdrawal.
  • Facial expressions can usually be linked to certain emotionsAnger is often revealed by sharp stares, crunched eyebrows and the baring of teeth. Teary eyes and drooping lips usually indicate sadness.
  • Posture also plays a critical role in non-verbal communication. Slumping in a chair is often seen as a sign of disrespect and inattention. Walking with one’s head and shoulders down can be interpreted as a sign of nervousness or low self-esteem. Traditionally puffing out one’s chest is interpreted as pride.
  • Specific movements are associated with certain messages. Nodding is a sign of agreement and raising fists are normally interpreted as a challenge or sign of anger. Frustration is often indicated by the stomping of feet.
  • Physical contact forms part of body language.  Handshakes, hugging, slapping and punching all form part of communication.

How You Say Something is Important

The way you deliver information to your team is crucial and forms part of non-verbal communication. A change in tone or inflection can change the way a statement is interpreted.

  • Your tone of voice is the way you use changing pitch to convey a message. The same message can be delivered using a rising, dipping or falling intonation. Changes of tone can make a message upbeat or depressing depending on the speaker’s tone. Changes in tone help identify the purpose of a sentence.
  • The meaning of a word can change by emphasizing different words or syllables.
  • Pace and rhythm place a role in how your team perceives a message. The speed of your speech and the use of pauses can change the meaning of the words spoken. If you speak too quickly your team my find it difficult to understand you but if you speak too slowly they may become bored.
  • Volume is important and how softly or loudly you speak matters in communication. A too soft voice can communicate nervousness or lack of assertiveness while a loud voice can communicate anger or aggression.
  • Pronunciation and enunciation play a role in how well a message comes across. You need to develop your skills in pronunciation and enunciation to ensure that your team understands you correctly.

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Identifying Barriers to Communication in Your Team

Communication is not as simple as one person talking and another person listening or one person writing and another person reading. Communication is a complicated process, and there are various barriers that can affect clear communication within your team. In this blog we will take a look at some of the most common barriers and how to minimize their impact on communication within your team. Barriers to communication can be divided into three main categories namely language, culture and location.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Identifying Barriers to Communication
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Language as a Communication Barrier in Teams

Language is one of the most common communication barriers that can exist within a team. This may occur because team members speak different languages, the language being used is not everyone’s first language or the team members all speak the same language but have different dialects. To reduce the impact of language barriers, it is essential to recognize that the barrier exists and identify ways to minimize the impact of it. Pictures are a universal language, and can be used to communicate across language barriers. If you are required to communicate with a person over a long period you will have to find a common language or consider hiring a translator.

Culture as a Communication Barrier in Teams

Words or gestures can mean different things to different cultures. The members of your team may be from a different culture, class or lifestyle which can hinder communication. One way to overcome this barrier is to find out as much as possible about the culture of your team members and how it differs to your culture. Identify potential areas of misunderstanding in order to prevent or resolve communication problems that may occur. If you do not have time to prepare, ask about cultural differences as you notice them and encourage questions about your own culture. Ask questions that are curious but never judgmental or resentful.

Location as a Communication Barrier in Teams

Location defined by time or place can also be a barrier to effective communication within your team. These barriers arise when team members are located in different places and time zones. To control or overcome potential barriers when phoning a team member in a different place, it is useful to make small talk about the weather to get a idea of his/her physical environment. You can also ensure that telephone calls and meetings are set up at a time that is suitable for you both. Emails can be an effective time and location bridge as the recipient can read and respond to the message at a convenient time. However if it is something urgent or needs further explanation, email is not the best option.

Being aware of time differences can place pressure on time and can result in rushed communication. Either party could easily make assumptions or leaps of faith. It is essential always to ask the person you are communicating with to give you a playback no matter the time constraints involved. You will need to make the most of the communication time that you do have.

 

 

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