Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Communication -the transfer of a message (information, idea, emotion, intent, feeling, or something else) that is both received and understood.

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Communication Levels
1. One-on-one level – this is you and your fellow colleagues or you and your manager and/or supervisor.

2. Team-or-unit level – level that is limited to the group and its members.

3. Company-level – larger than team level, communications with the different teams within the company or organization.

4. Community-level – how the company communicate to the different sectors of the community or society

Inhibitors of Communication

Kill the Messenger” Syndrome – we do not take this literally. This syndrome is our natural way of not listening to people we do not like. When we do not like the person talking, we do not listen to what he/she is trying to say because we are already assuming that everything that is coming out of their lips are not good

Difference in Meaning – as seen in our activity earlier. The leader tries to explain the picture but some of us have a different perception. Maybe the misuse of words to explain is the root cause of this inhibitor

Lack of trust – a symptom of the “Kill the Messenger” syndrome. Again, if you do not like and trust the person talking, you totally disregard the message the speaker is trying to convey.

Information overload – sometimes called communication overload. People have a limit as to how much information one can take in a day. Notice when a person rests their forehead with their palm or fist. That is a sign that the brain needs rest in absorbing information. Yawning is another sign that the person is not yet ready to receive information and experiencing an overload. When this happens, just pause for a few second and let the listener recover for a bit then resume talking.

Interference – interference may happen at any time. Whether it is through a person or an event like ringing of the mobile phone or a blast of the ambulance siren, these sudden noises can interfere the bridging of information from sender to receiver.

Condescending tone – condescending from the word condescension which is synonymous to arrogance. A communication that indicates lack of respect by patronizing the recipient. Patronize meaning to talk down to. In Filipino, being “mata-pobre”.

Poor listening skills – there are people who have not honed their skills in listening. All they want is talk, talk and talk some more. If everybody talks, nothing is understood. To prove my point, try to situate yourself in the middle of a busy public market and try to understand every word that each person says. Listening is an essential skill in communication. Without it, we cannot bridge out the ideas that is inside our heard.

Premature judgments – this happens when we heard something bad that happened to the ones we love. A perfect example, your best-friend said that he saw your girlfriend with a guy. Before your best-friend can finish his story, you bolted out and quarrelled with your girlfriend. If only you listened to the continuation of the story, which is that the man that your girlfriend was seen with is actually her father. How embarrassing it would be, right? That is an example of a premature judgment, which leads us to the last inhibitor of communication, assumptions.

Inaccurate assumptions – people love to assume things. We assume things in almost everything. Inaccurate assumptions can lead to mistakes to disastrous situations. For example, if people would assume a person immediately as a criminal just because of their looks, now that would be wrong. Remember, communications is not limited to the use of spoken words, as we will be discussing that further down the road. Assumptions are good, but remember to keep it to yourself until the assumption is accurate and proven. Listening– one of the most important communication skills

Hearing- is a natural process, but listening is not.
Good listening– means receiving the message, correctly decoding it, and accurate perceiving what it means Empathic listening– listening with the intent to understand

Inhibitors of Effective Listening

1. Lack of concentration – this is because we do not pay attention or really not interested in listening at all.

2. Interruptions – sudden occurrence that brings our mind to focus on something else.

3. Preconceived ideas – even before the actual listening happens, our minds have a solid picture of the person who will be talking to us thus giving us the impression of not wanting to listen.

4. Thinking ahead – like preconceived ideas, our mind in preoccupied with something else, that’s why we are not listening effectively.

5. Interference – like interruptions, people or events that suddenly interrupt our listening.

6. Tuning out – not wanting to listen at all or sometimes because of communication overload that our mind shuts down momentarily to rest, thus tuning out.

Listening Responsively
1. Active – Always show interest to the person talking to you. Being active gives you a good reception on what the sender is trying to say.

2. Alert – this goes hand in hand with being active. Being alert also gives you a good reception to the message the sender is giving.

3. Vigilant – Synonymous of being alert. Pay full attention to the speaker to grasp the message he/she is trying to convey.

4. Sensitive – being sensitive shows a sign of interest to the person talking. Sensing that the place have so many interferences, you can say to the speaker to go somewhere else so that you can understand what he/she is trying to say.

5. Creative – creative in a sense that you ask questions about the message the speaker has given. Asking questions is a good sign that the listener received the message properly.

Improving listening skills
-Upgrade your desire to listen
-Ask the right questions
-Judge what is really being said
-Eliminate listening errors

Non Verbal Communication Factors
1. Body Factors – these are our gestures and facial gestures. Whether we are the sender or receiver, we subconsciously act out our thoughts. Good readers of non-verbal cues can understand that as if you are an open book.

2. Voice Factors – these pertain to the pitch, intonation, and speed of our voice. Simple cough to interrupt the speaker means a lot of things, depending on how it was sent or received.

3. Proximity Factors – this pertains to the place or space of the listener to the speaker and vice-versa (ex. the farther we are to the speaker means that we are not interested in listening to the person talking)

Communicating Verbally
Show interest
Be friendly
Be flexible
Be tactful
Be courteous

Asking Questions Effectively
1. Phrase questions carefully – choice of words are important, we should be sensitive as to not offend the speaker by questioning him/her inappropriately.

2. Use open-ended questions – these are questions that can give the speaker a chance to respond to further clarify the inquiry given.

3. Acknowledge emotions – be sensitive on the underlying emotions. Read the non-verbal cues of the speaker and from there you know how to handle the situation.

4. State your purpose – it is a sign of giving due respect to the speaker of stating the purpose of your question. In that way, both the speaker and the listener know that they are both on the same page on the topic.

5. Drop your defences – be objective in giving and answering questions. After all, the purpose of question and answer is to clarify things and needs further explanation. Being defensive will only inhibit the flow of communication

Communicating in Writing
Strategies for improved written communication
1. Plan before you write – just like in speaking, be sensitive on the reader of your written correspondence. Choose your words carefully before writing them down.

2. Be brief and direct – since the message is done in writing, might as well give your message brief. This can help the reader to understand your message and not experience eye-strain in reading a bunch of words that mean to tell him that he needs to brush his teeth in the morning for example.

3. Be accurate – go straight to the point on the message of the letter you are righting.

4. Practice self-editing – after writing, read your message as if you are the receiver. Feel the content and understand every word. Try to edit parts that you feel or notice that the reader will misinterpret what you are trying to say.

Writing better reports
Define the problem
Develop a work plan
Gather relevant data
Process findings
Develop conclusions
Make recommendations

Communicating Corrective Feedback

Be positive – this is for both the manager and the employee in question. Remember to give due respect to everyone, whether you are the listener or the speaker. Watch your non-verbal communication and try to show to the one you face that you respect him/her as a person and ready to discuss anything with him/her. Remember that you subject yourself into this because it is for the better. Be prepared – think back of the reason why this activity is happening. Try to clear your head with negative thoughts as it will not help you not only in recalling past events, but also finding solutions to the problem. Be realistic – when giving corrective feedback, look for solutions that are doable. In addition, try to focus on the subject at hand and base all of the topics on facts not hearsay or speculations. Don’t be completely negative – the negative form of corrective feedback is being reprimanded. But on the other hand, you can look at it as a form of an advice coming from top management to make you do better with work. So do not be negative. And if you are the one who will be doing the reprimanding, remember the “kiss and kick” principle, start with something positive then inject the negative. (i.e. “You know I like as to how you come in to work early but if only you could lessen the internet usage for surfing personal stuff, you could help the company a lot.”)

Improving Communication Skills
Keep up to date – this does not mean that you have to read a lot of magazines so that you can talk about what are the latest happenings in society, although it can help keep the interaction interesting. But other than that, keeping up to date means you talk and interact with your peers and superiors about what is happening inside the workplace. Keep yourself inside the loop so that you will not be left behind. Prioritize & determine time constraints – talks are good but do it efficiently. One can talk but make sure that you know what to talk and for how long you will be talking. It is not nice for someone to keep on talking and talking that you do not give the listener an opportunity to react. Time your talk and balance out the topics to keep the interaction going.

Decide who to inform – if you know something sensitive, it would be wise to think first as to whom you will share the sensitive information with. Inappropriate sharing of information can lead to grapevine or worse can sue you for libel. Our word is our bond so be careful. Determine how to communicate – would it be proper to say it in front of his face or write it down in a memo? Just remember, saying it makes the receiver feel informal while putting it down on a piece of paper makes it more stern and formal. Analyze the message you want to convey and then choose the method of delivery. Communicate & follow-up – once you opened your communication line about a topic, keep it open. Learn to follow- up if there are updates that you should know about. Always keep yourself in the loop. Check understanding & obtain feedback – doing follow-up makes you certain the level of understanding the listener has about the message you convey. Do not hesitate to ask if they understood what you mean and ask them for feedback. In feedback, you can gauge on how effective you conveyed the message and see what areas you can improve so that you can give clearer message delivery.

There are three ways to convey our message across, they are: 1. Written – again, we said that this is the formal way of sending your message across. Written messages can hold you responsible and accountable on every word written.

2. Verbal – the most common method of sending the message across. It is informal and sometimes forgettable. So if you wish to send something important across using this method, make sure to ask the person if he/she understood what you are trying to say. Follow-up from time to time if the listener did understand the message you have sent across.

3. Electronic (E-mail) – emails these days have two forms, the written which we call email and voice which we call voicemail. This is the modern form of message carriers; it is fast, convenient and can be stored easily. Like the written message, you have to be careful on what you put there because each message is a file and these files can be stored and opened again if needed.

Developing Interpersonal Skills

Recognition of the need
Careful selection
Measurement and reward

Promoting Responsiveness among Employees

Value people
Give people what you want to get back
Make cooperation a habit

Personality & Communication

used to describe a relatively stable pattern of behaviour, though, emotions, motives & outlook distinctive to a given individual & that characterize that individual throughout life

Group of characteristics according to psychologists
1. Introversion Vs. Extroversion – are you a homebody or someone who likes to go out and have an adventure?

2. Neuroticism Vs. Emotional Stability – do you experience thinking negatively to others or you still have a clear conscience?

3. Agreeable Vs. Stubborn – do you always “go with the flow” or someone that “blocks the flow”?

4. Conscientious Vs. Undependable – do you always look into detail or are you just “happy-go-lucky”?

5. Open To Experience Vs. Prefers The Familiar – are you unafraid to try out new things or contented to the status quo?

Overview of Team Building and Teamwork

Team- A team is a group of people with a common, collective goal. Primary reasons for advocating teamwork are:
• Two or more heads are better than one.
• People in teams get to know each other better, build trust & as a result help each other.

• Teamwork promotes better communication.

Rationale for Teams
A group of people becomes a team when the following conditions exist:

• Agreement exists as to the team’s mission
• Members adhere to the team ground rules
• Fair distribution of responsibility & authority exists.

There are three types of teams in the work place, they are:

Department Improvement Team – their focus is improving work in the department. H. James Harrington and Kenneth Lomax have stated the importance of this type of team in their book“Performance Improvement Methods”. They write, “Department Improvement Teams or DIT is one of the most valuable teams in the entire process. The team is made up of employees in a particular department reporting to the same manager. They focus on problems that they know about, has resources to use, and is empowered to solve with little or no outside approvals… Since this team is looking at issues that affect its own efficiency and effectiveness, there are huge opportunities for saving organization resources.”

Process Improvement Team – Harrington and Lomax has a description of this team. They write, “Another very valuable team in any organization is this team… since they focus on a particular process, they are also called cross-functional teams.” Directly handled by management, its members consists of individuals who are deeply involved in that particular process. They will identify process issues that can be corrected through the use of a task team. Organizations will prioritize the critical business process and assign PITs to redesign and reengineer one to three processes at a time. In these cases that the PIT members will work on it between 50% – 100% of their time for three to six months. And just like the Department Improvement Team, thePITs has great opportunities to reduce internal cost by making process more efficient, more effective, and more adaptable.

Task force-a task force is a temporary unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Members are based on experience and participation is mandatory. They are directed by management and it is also in the discretion of management on the task that they will be working on. Task mforces are formed to provide solutions as soon as possible so the urgency is very high and directly affect the entire organization. The process facilitator is optional and team leadership shall be appointed by management. Task forces are also called “ad-hoc committees”

Being in a group, members should learn how to work together. Factors that influences teamwork are:

Personal identity of team members
Relationships among team members
Identity within the organization
To become a member of a team, one must:
Gain entry
Be clear on the team’s mission
Be well prepared and participate
Stay in touch

Now, how can one be a leader of the team? He/she should be:
Team Building and Teamwork
Be clear on the team’s mission
Identify success criteria
Be action centered
Establish the ground rules
Share information
Cultivate team unity

And finally, the following characteristics should be present in order to exude team excellence and performance:

Stretching tasks
Common language
Shared leadership/ followership
Problem-solving skills
Confrontation/ Conflict-handling skills
Assessment/Action, celebration

Building Teams and Making Them Work
Following are the factors that influence team building & should be taken care of: Makeup & Size of Teams
Choosing Team Members
Responsibilities of Team Leaders
Other Team Members
Creating Teams Mission Statement
Developing Collegial Relationships
Promoting Diversity in Teams
Four Step Approach in Team Building
Assessing Team Needs – talk, communicate, and interact with fellow members. At this point there should not be roles played like leader and follower. Everybody is equal, therefore can equally express freely what the needs of the team are. In that way, people can identify what is essential and work on it in the process. Planning Team-Building Activities – once the needs are identified, the team should use it as basis for the activities. The activities should address a particular need, not one activity that can answer all of them.

Executing Team-Building Activities – execution is key. The team should do the activities properly in order to address the need identified.

Evaluating Team-Building Activities – not all activities go on smoothly. If it does, the team should not stop there. Meet and analyze the events that happened. The team can do a SWOT analysis to evaluate the activity and use the results on assessing a new set of team’s needs and do the same process all over again.

Character Traits and Teamwork
Following are few character traits required for Teamwork:


Teams are not Bossed – They are Coached

Bosses approach the job from

“I’m in charge – do as you are told perspective”. facilitators of team development and continually improved performance.

Following are a few characteristics of a Coach:

Clearly Defined Character
Team Development/Team Building
Mutual respect
Human Diversity

Handling Conflict in Teams
Resolution Strategies for Team Conflicts:

Plan & Work to establish a balanced culture
Establish clear criteria
Don’t allow individuals to build personal empires
Encourage & Recognize risk-taking behavior
Value constructive dissent
Assign people of widely differing perspectives
Reward and recognize both dissent & teamwork

Structural Inhibitors of Teamwork
Compensation and Recognition – let’s start from the most obvious. People will not lead if they will not be paid handsomely and recognized for the work. Let’s admit, it is human nature, no one will work for free.Even volunteers have their own intentions, not really working freely just for the heck of it. Planning and Control – Rank and file employees do not like additional work, work that they won’t get paid. Middle management on the other hand does not wish to work because of the length of time consumed plus the paper works. Again, people will do it, wherever he/she is in the organizational ladder, for compensation and recognition. Unit Structure – this is all about how the organization looks like. A rank- and-file cannot lead a team same as an executive becoming a memberof a team led by a rank-and-file. Unit Goals – conflict of interest is sometimes a big hindrance for a team to move forward. Members that have a hidden agenda that sometimes conflicts with what is supposed to do can stumble or even halt the entire team’s operation. Accountability & Responsibility – I put them on top of the ladder because they are the toughest and at the same time most critical value a team must have. It is human nature that when something fails, we point fingers and not accept part or even full responsibility of the actions. Remember, a team should work as one, and working as one, the members should contribute. If members are weak in this area, the team will stumble and not reach their goal.

Rewarding Team and Individual Performance
The second figure shows the model for developing a team and individual compensation system. The steps are as follows: Step 1: Decide what performance to measure
Step 2: Determine how to measure the performance
Step 3: Identify the rewards to be offered
Step 4: Integrate related process

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