Every team that has ever been successful has mastered the art of good communication. It allows members to share ideas, provide feedback and give the group direction and focus. If a team fails to communicate, it risks conflict and misunderstanding, leading to poor results.

The Importance of Communication in a Team

It is important for team members to communicate so that they can share their feedback on how the team is progressing, and voice suggestions and ideas as to how to improve the way they work. This ensures that the project is looked at from every angle possible and, therefore, the results produced are correct and complete.

The best way to communicate is face-to-face, as emotion can be conveyed through tone and body language- something that is lacking in written communication. However, e-mail and fax can be valuable communication tools, enabling a record to be kept of correspondence; and the use of mobile phones ensures that team members can be contacted at all times. The team should all swap contact information at the beginning of the project.

Listening as a Form of Communication

Communication is as much about listening to the other person as it is talking to them. If a team member does not listen carefully to instructions and information, it can be misunderstood and confusion can arise. Team members should respect one another’s beliefs and value positively makes suggestions without dismissing them out of hand.

A manager or team leader plays an important part in ensuring effective team communication. It is their responsibility to convey the main objective of the project in a clear and informative manner, ensuring that there is no ambiguity. Not issuing instructions in this manner will lead to confusion as to the aims of the team, resulting in a completed project that is of poor quality.

The Effects of Poor Communication

Ineffective or poor communication within a team could lead to conflict, as misunderstandings arise and team members argue over their differing opinions as to what should be done. This will negatively affect morale, which will lower productivity. This, in turn, will result in a project that is incomplete and inaccurate.

Emotions should always be controlled, and it is damaging to team morale to argue or conflict with team members. It is therefore important that each team member gives their opinion or makes suggestions in a positive way, not enforcing views on colleagues but listening to what is said.

Learning Effective Communication Skills

Regardless of whether one is a student, employee, or employer, communication skills are a vital part of building and maintaining healthy relationships. While the word communication usually makes people think about speaking, listening is a crucial part of being able to communicate effectively with others.

Communication Skills Include Active Listening

Active listening is a valuable skill that can be applied to all areas of an individual’s life including in terms of workplace communication, maintaining friendships, and personal relationships. This approach is also a key part of time management as most people can recall time wasted having to answer the same questions repeatedly because a colleague has not listened during a work meeting.

Active Listening Requires Patience

No matter how dull or uninteresting a conversation may be within the workplace, it is crucial to try to be as patient as possible with the individual concerned as otherwise, it is easy to end up forgetting the main points and then have to waste more time. Particularly in the case of an individual who is struggling to express him or herself well it is important not to show signs of being disinterested such as tapping one’s foot, sighing, or tapping the desk with one’s fingers.

Active Listening Includes Recognising Non-Verbal Communication

Essentially, recognizing non-verbal communication requires listening to what the other person is not saying. Instead of or in addition to using words, the individual may use a variety of facial expressions or gestures. Non-verbal communication also includes different body language and using props such as a pen, ruler, or pencil.

Active Listening Includes Showing Listening Signals

Another important aspect of active listening is being able to show throughout the conversation that one is listening carefully to what is being said. This is achieved through exhibiting listening signals such as nodding the head, maintaining eye contact, and smiling at regular intervals inappropriate moments. When a speaker knows that he or she is being actively listened to it makes it easier for him or her to have confidence in sharing ideas or thoughts.

Benefits of Active Listening in the Workplace

From a time management perspective, active listening in the workplace is an effective way to reduce the time which would otherwise have been spent asking the same questions repeatedly. Active listening helps the workplace to run more efficiently and improve staff morale as if people feel they are being properly listened to and respected this will likely result in fewer office politics and reduce workplace conflict.

As highlighted above, to communicate effectively in the workplace and as a part of time management, the ability to actively listen to others is crucial. When colleagues and employees feel they are being properly listened to this will also improve the working environment and hopefully increase staff morale.