Indirect factors affecting office Communications

Emotional reactions like anger, love, defensiveness, hate, jealousy, fear, embarrassment influence how we understand others message and how we influence others with our own messages. If for example we are in an atmosphere where we feel threatened with loss of power or prestige, we may lose the ability to gauge the meanings of the messages we receive and will respond defensively or aggressively.

The best approach to dealing with emotions is to accept them as part of the communication process and to seek to understand them when they cause problems. If employees are behaving aggressively or sullenly, managers should get them to talk about their concerns and pay careful attention to what they say. Once managers understand the employees’ reactions they may be able to improve the atmosphere by changing their own behavior. Before a crisis, managers can try to anticipate their employees’ emotional reactions and prepare to deal with them. Also, they can think about their own moods and how they influence others.

Inconsistent verbal and nonverbal communication:

We often think of spoken and written language as the primary medium of communication, but the messages we send and receive are strongly influenced by such nonverbal factors as body moments, clothing the distance we stand from the person we are talking to, our posture gestures, facial expressions, eye movements, and body contact. Even when our message is as simple as “Good morning” we can convey different intents by our nonverbal communication. A busy manager who does not want to be disturbed might respond to an employee’s greeting without looking up from his or her work, for example.

The keys to eliminating inconsistencies in communication are being aware of them and guarding against sending false messages. Gestures, clothes, posture, facial expression, and other powerful nonverbal communications should all be “in synch” with the verbal message. Analyzing the nonverbal communication of other people and applying what is learned to oneself and to one’s dealings with others is helpful.

A receiver’s trust or distrust of a message is, to large extent, a function of the credibility of the sender in the mind of the receiver. A sender’s credibility is affected by circumstances in the context in which he or she sends the message. Here is where the history of a work relationship comes to bear on communication. If an employee or contractor has repeatedly experienced disdain or unmet promises from a manager, that manager’s communication effectiveness to these people can be eroded. In some cases, the fact that a message comes from a manager will enhance its credibility. In other cases it can have the opposite effect. Again, the time and place in which this is happening is crucial.

In general, a manager’s credibility will be high if he or she is perceived by others as knowledgeable, trustworthy, and sincerely concerned about the welfare of others. Credibility is the result of a long term process in which a person’s honesty, fair-mindedness, and good intentions are recognized by others. There are few shortcuts to creating a trusting atmosphere. A good rapport with the people one communicates with can only be developed through consistent performances.

It is also helpful to remain sensitive to the various alternative ways of phrasing a message. Sometimes even a minor restatement can have beneficial effects. If for example, we are replacing an unpopular sales quota system with a new system in which reaching sales objectives is only one measure of productivity, we might do well to avoid the word “quota” entirely because of its negative association with the old system.

Once again, seemingly simple changes in the physical office environment can promote relationships in which different perceptions are available for all to see and work through. When managers at World Book wanted to move from its cramped, dark, and outdated offices, the firm hired an architect to plan office space that would promote communication and creativity. The architect was able to accommodate these needs, plus more, through the innovative ways in which the new space was configured. Low panels were used to create work areas of eight-by-eight feet for every professional, yet the natural light could still flow throughout the office. Communal areas were created that allowed for and encouraged informal friendly conversation.