It is safe to say that, especially in this modern time, a great source of conflict can arise between one another. It’s as simple as person A not understanding or misinterpreting what person B is trying to convey and then getting into an argument. It happens all the time and especially with a language barrier. Moreover, it usually leads to conflicts between one another, sometimes escalating if the feud gets worse.
Take that unfortunate situation between two folks and place it in an environment where communication is critical and time is money. People have something to lose if they don’t fulfill their quotas on time. In a workplace environment, miscommunication can make a stressful situation even worse than it has to be. This article seeks to explain how even misinterpreting your colleagues’ text can cost your productivity and mental health.
Miscommunication can arise from many sources, some more than what people typically expect, taking on many forms. These can range from different communication styles and language barriers, making it difficult to parse what people are trying to communicate to one another, particularly in the latter, where some workers might not be as fluent in some languages as others. Even outside of that, not correctly understanding the body language of another worker can also create miscommunication, with the issue only being compounded if said body language comes off as confusing to some.
Miscommunication can also come from external pressures such as time crunch and unclear expectations. Whenever employees are unaware of what they are expected to do, their forces to perform well are amplified, and they struggle to connect with others. This is doubly so whenever workers are placed under a short time crunch, further exacerbating the confusion and stress they experience.
Finally, miscommunication can be primarily traced from employee-to-employee interaction. Hierarchy in the workplace can affect communication. Leaders who struggle to communicate with their lower-level employees can lead to uncertain goals and confusion. Poor leadership, in general, is faulty if they cannot communicate with their colleagues effectively.
Other employees in more middle-managing positions will often have to address the employees in positions above and below them. This can be particularly problematic as they have to navigate through different goals and expectations from the workers they cooperate with.
With these factors, it's no surprise that miscommunication can run rampant within the workplace and considerably impact employees. Miscommunication can contribute to a worker’s stress and can lead to fatigue. Likewise, it can be a crucial factor in a group’s failure to complete a project on time. Moreover, with the teams being unable to communicate properly, they result in the work effort being disorganized as they scramble to do what they can but are unable to cooperate correctly since they are not aware of what they expect from each other.
Furthermore, a workplace that cannot foster proper and efficient communication with its employees tends to suffer from a loss in productivity, leading to unproductive meetings, unforgivingly tight deadlines, crunch, and other stressful situations that usually come at the employees’ expense.
On that respective end, employees suffering from mismanaged communication can have the chance to suffer a negative emotional impact on their morale which can carry into their personal lives should it get worse. Should that be the case, employees will also have their performance sullied, hurting the company’s bottom line.
Projects can fail under miscommunication, which is aptly demonstrated through history with the Airbus A380. As told through an article published by Datarockets, there was once the world’s largest commercial aircraft to be built, with different teams from countries spanning Britain, Spain, France, and Germany involved with the construction. Unfortunately, German and Spain used outdated computer software and failed to communicate this with the rest of the crew. This, in turn, led to configuration management problems, significant delivery delays, and an increase in production costs by billions.
So as demonstrated, a company can have a lot to lose if their workplace struggles with even the most basic of proper communication. So what steps should be taken to avoid it? The solutions to this problem stem from a management position and the person.
From a leadership role, they should be responsible for fostering a workplace environment that encourages worker communication. They should also strive to make their expectations clear, communicating to their colleagues what they expect out of them.
On an individual basis, workers should make an effort to be active listeners to the people around them, not just whenever they are talking to one another, but also make a considerable effort to understand one’s body language. They can also double-check emails sent to them by their colleagues to ensure a better understanding. Above all, taking responsibility will help when miscommunication does go awry.
Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that miscommunication will be inevitable. There will be circumstances where the best efforts will still be unable to prevent the occasional slip-up. What matters more is the fact that it should be about stopping the chances of miscommunication from occurring and focusing more on a workplace environment that fosters clear communication.
Communication is vital in any circumstance, but it becomes essential when applied to a busy, stressful working environment where people are collaborating on projects, managing other people, and generally doing what they can to make ends meet. Miscommunication can disrupt the flow of productivity in a workplace and can come from nearly anywhere. However, as long as people take steps to ensure the chances of miscommunication are relatively uncommon, it can make the workplace less stressful.
The workplace will always remain a potentially stressful environment, so making sure that people can talk to their colleagues without burdening themselves can make the grind all the more manageable.
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