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Showing posts with label verbal communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label verbal communication. Show all posts

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Are we Syncing Our Non-Verbal Cues in the Workplace?



The workplace is full of communication as people act and interact with each other to get the day’s events accomplished. Beyond what is said and the words we use it is possible that language works in the background as well. Inadvertently, you may be sync yourself with other people in the much the same way as you sync your electronic gadgets to each other.  

A recent study explains how people inadvertently sync to their social networks when communicating (Higo, et. al. 2014). Our non-verbal communication mannerisms start to mimic those within our social networks and create a language of their own. We naturally find a way of showing our engagement in further conversation. 

As we talk to people we engage with on a frequent basis we naturally make personal and emotional connections to those members. This happens because we share information, stories, and memories. Beyond the verbal obvious is the story embedded in our non-verbal communication patterns. 

When two people begin to share non-verbal cues they create a synchronous way of communicating. We can see this when a person is encouraged to keep talking simply by the body movements of the other person that expresses interest and a level of excitement with the information. Failure to sync means failure to connect on a meaningful level.

The power of non-verbal communication has been known for some time. The difference is that viewing non-verbal communication as a sync and not-sync helps explain how groups are formed, cultures are experienced, and the difficulties some people have with connecting to strangers. Over time when groups of people sync together they are “connected” and form a true entity. 

It is possible to think of how organizational cultures are formed through shared values and beliefs. Perhaps such beliefs are also formed from the way in which people act and interact with each other on a non-verbal level. As organizational members sync with each other they encourage and develop greater communication and organizational development. 

Higo, N. et. al. (2014). Interpersonal similarity between body movements in fac-to-face communication in daily life. Plos One, 9 (7).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Social Network Channels Influence Job Performance


Do your social networks impact your success? Xiaojung and Vekatesh (2013) discuss research on how important physical and online social networks are to job performance. Direct physical, direct online, and indirect online are sources of information that impact the process of decision-making and connecting to resources. Their research helps identify how online and offline communication channels can work together to enhance job performance.

It is first beneficial to define what a social network is. “A social network is a specific set of linkages among a defined set of persons, with the additional property that the characteristics of these linkages as a whole may be used to interpret the social behavior of the persons involved” (Mitchell, 1969, p. 2). Those within the same social networks often use similar behaviors and vantage points.

Face-to-face communication offers the opportunity for both verbal and non-verbal communication. It is considered a rich content channel that spreads information through time tested historical methods. The advent of online communication affords greater variety of information management that previous methods need physical interaction to accomplish.

Despite its breadth, online communication channels are less value laden than face-to-face communication. Yet this communication channel is being hedged to create greater reach than would be possible with traditional methods. Varying degrees of information can be collected from networks in the online world that moves quickly among members. Over time online channels will become more information laden to mimic face-to-face interaction (i.e. video, music, forums).

The authors found that the use of online and off-line communication does have an impact on job performance. The belief is that information is power and the more one is able to collect and integrate varying channels of information the more likely they can make proper decisions that impact their job. It is recommended that business leaders use both forms of communication for maximum job growth.

The report doesn’t move into this concept, but through channel expansion theory and concepts of information hubs it is possible to put oneself in the center of the information hub and expand upon that information for greater influence. Leaders who desire to become influential should develop as many communication channels as humanly possible and use that information to bring great ideas forward.

Mitchell, J. (1969). “The concept and use of social networks” in social networks in urban situations, J.C. Mitchell (ed), Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, p. 1-50.

Zhang, X. & Venkatesh, V. (2013). Explaining employee job performance: the role of online and offline workplace communication networks.  MIS Quarterly, 37 (3).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Positive and Negative Communication Patterns Impact Workplace Culture

Communication is social by nature, helps others to engage in relationships, and link the micro actions of individuals to the macro actions of the organization. The communication patterns of a workplace determine not only the culture and flavor of the company but also its effectiveness.  The researchers Keyton, et. al. (2013), discuss the nature of communication in the workplace and the patterns formed.

Employees who are effective communicators are likely to succeed in achieving their goals. Individuals are seen as active agents whose behaviors are driven by motivations that are innate (Bandura, 2008). Such individuals express themselves, their personalities, and even their unconscious conflicts through communication.

Let us take two examples of people who have distinct communication patterns within the workplace. Tom wants to be successful and seeks recognition for his work. John feels as though he is more deserving of others and the only way to achieve his goals is to dominate others around him. Both will develop a communication pattern to meet their goals.

Tom talks about the great things he has done and seeks recognition and approval. John is hyper critical and talks poorly of others abilities. Tom likes to talk out differences while John seems to push his agenda on others. Tom learns from others and John negatively compares himself to others. Both have developed a pattern.

Tom and John’s behaviors are both addictive. Communication is social and others gauge their environment by the behaviors around them. If Tom works hard, manages conflict, and seeks recognition and this results in success others will begin to copy Tom. If John’s brashness and negativity is rewarded others will assume that is what makes success. One workplace will become more productive while the other will become more toxic.

Of course, Tom and John are not the only people in the workplace. Therefore, the total communication flow is based upon up the collective pattern of the environment. These patterns are defined as the culture and value systems of a company.  To change culture and patterns can mean to change the conversations, reward systems, and basic economic assumptions of the environment.

The researchers sought to understand what communicative behaviors the workplace has experienced based upon the perception of employees. Within their target they found that the ten most common verbal communication patters were listening, asking questions, discussing, sharing information, agreeing, suggesting, getting feedback, seeking feedback, answering questions and explaining. These observed patterns suggest a workplace that seeks to be efficient and the communicative patterns appear to support that effort.

A second study found some differences. Routinely used verbal communication behaviors exhibited were information sharing, relational maintenance, expressing negative emotion, and organizing. Even though each of these are common it should be understood that relational maintenance should not be excessive and expressing negative emotion should be productive. If they do not add to the success of the organization, it is possible that excessive amounts of time in social structure maintenance and negativity can create a non-mobile and toxic workplace.  

 Understanding what communication patterns employees are using can determine overall cultural values and communicative behaviors within the workplace. Surveying employee’s perceptions of communication patterns within the workplace will help solidify for decision-makers the most common interactions. By understanding these patterns, it is possible to make adjustments that further help the organization develop proper workplace assumptions that lead to productivity.

When conducting similar studies it may be beneficial to break up the surveys into the following:

1.) Executive Communication Patterns: How do executives communicate with each other and employees?

2.) Employee Communication Patterns: How do employees perceive the communication patterns within the workplace?

3.) Employee to Customer Communication Patterns: How do customers perceive the communication patterns coming from employees?

Bandura, A. (2008). Social cognitive theory. In W. Donsbach (Ed.),
The international encyclopedia of communication[electronic version]. London, England: Blackwell. doi:10.1111/ b.9781405131995.2008.

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

Other Reading: