Saturday, April 20, 2013

Communication as an Interconnected Activity of Self and Society



Each day we communicate with each other and make inroads into understanding each other. Organizations are built and maintained on the types of communication patterns people choose. As people talk about work, their lives, their hopes and their fears they make relationships and bind themselves to others. These relationships influence the culture of the organization and the effectiveness of behavior that improves upon goal attainment. The manners and styles in which we communicate will determine the effectiveness of our behavior.

Workplaces have transformed in communication to hyper information that bombards us from cell phones, face-to-face communication, email, Internet, and just about everywhere else. It hits us from all directions. The rise in the need for stronger communication abilities is apparent in the world of globalization and technology. Employers are now seeking people with emphasis on “interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate” in teams in order to achieve their collective goals (Barley & Kunda, 2001, p. 77).

Oral and face-to-face communication are still the gold standards in communicative abilities. Organizations have ranked new graduates as largely inefficient in their communication skills (The Conference Board, 2009). Therefore, the need to understand communication and those behaviors that are most beneficial is needed. This understanding raises the ability to improve upon these communication styles and create higher levels of effectiveness.

Communication behaviors doesn't work within a vacuum on their own and by themselves. They exist within an environmental context and create a sequence of events. Such behaviors are social, used to engage people, link micro actions to collective structures (Bisel, 2010). Thus, communication is a method of taking individuals and connecting them to the organizational and societal collective.

People communicate with each other for a number of personal reasons. When a person engages in communication, they seek to influence their goals, relational status among others, and their self-identity (Clark and Delia, 1979). Therefore, communication is not passive but an active aspect of modern living that is connected to both the self and  collective society.

Communication also has a larger impact on the perception self and choices of behaviors. “Whatever processes may be involved in human skill learning and performance, the concern is with intentional attempts to carry out motor acts, which will bring about predetermined results” (Hargie, 2006). Therefore, communication is a precursor to actions that are goal seeking.Communication is vital to American businesses and individual needs attainment.

Communication influences the environment but also allows the environment to influence the person. It is an outward expression of inner thoughts that allows for goal attainment that further connects people to society. It is through this connection that people are able to achieve their personal and professional goals. Organizations can develop communication abilities to help enhance the efficiency of accomplishment within organizations.

Two studies by Keyton, et. al. (2013 help to highlight which communication behaviors are exhibited in the workplace and which are most successful. You may view their two studies below:

Study 1:

Two authors identified 343 communication activities from four communication textbooks. These were analyzed for relevance and a total of 163 communication behaviors were identified. Each were analyzed to determine if it was a communication activity, if they had logical opposites, and was it simple. A total of 126 participants were involved that help identify the behaviors they experienced at work.

Results:

-The top ten communication behaviors were listening, asking questions, discussing, sharing information, agreeing, suggesting, getting feedback, seeking feedback, answering questions and explaining.

Study 2:

The second study focused on trying to understand if the communication had an internal structure that allowed for the development of measurements of communication abilities. Out of 331 participants 1/3 were asked to fill out the survey that analyzed the communication styles exhibited at work. They ranked themselves on how well they did on these communication styles.

Results:

-Participants ranked their most effective behaviors as showing respect, cooperating, offering help and sharing information.

-Participants ranked their least effective behaviors as complaining, expressing frustration, relational maintenance of small talk, telling stories, and seeking approval.

Analysis:

Communication is a method of connecting individuals to an organization and society. By engaging and talking with people you can develop relationships with them and this further creates higher levels of social influence as well as provide opportunities for individuals to achieve their goals. Understanding communication patterns within the workplace helps in developing methods for improving such communication. Through these communication patterns, employers can encourage stronger choices and behaviors that help to achieve goals. Colleges can provide greater methodology and skill in preparing students to effectively communicate with their work environments to achieve their personal goals as well as help the organization.

Barley, S.& Kunda, G. (2001). Bringing work back in. Organization Science, 12, 76-95.

Bisel, R. S. (2010). A communicative ontology of organization? A description, history, and critique of CCO theories for organization science. Management Communication Quarterly, 24, 124-131.
  
Clark, R. A., & Delia, J. G. (1979). Topoi and rhetorical competence. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 65, 187-206.

Hargie, O. D. W. (2006). Communication as skilled performance. In O. D. W. Hargie (Ed.), The handbook of communication skills (3rd ed., pp. 7-28). New York, NY: Routledge.

Keyton, et. al. (2013). Investigating verbal workplace communication behaviors. Journal or Business Communication, 50 (2).

Keyton, J., & Shockley-Zalabak, P. (Eds.). (2006). Case studies for organizational communication: Understanding communication processes (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.

The Conference Board. (2009). The ill-prepared U.S. workforce: Exploring the challenges of employer-provided workforce readiness training. Retrieved April 20th, 2013 from http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Pages/Ill-Prepared%20U.S.%20Workforce.aspx

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