Effective Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace: Self-Concept, Self-Esteem, Self-Disclosure, Emotional Intelligence, and Conflict Resolution

Introduction

Hello, Coworkers. Communication is an important aspect of workplace activities. Even in situations where a group of workers are highly trained and talented, issues can arise if the individuals are unable to demonstrate strong communication skills. After taking a class on interpersonal communication, I have learned many different techniques for optimizing workplace communication. An analysis of different aspects of strong communication will be provided, along with several examples of poor communication and how to avoid it.

Barriers to Effective Interpersonal Communication

Many different forms of interpersonal communication take place in the workplace.

In some cases, one coworker may send out an email to other workers. Things like phone calls and face-to-face interactions represent additional forms of workplace communication. The way in which messages are communicated can vary depending on the type of interaction. For example, it is usually better to refrain from trying to communicate things like sarcasm or humor when typing emails. The message may not be received in the way it was intended by the person who sent it, and it can sometimes lead to misunderstandings.

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Face-to-face interactions are a better option when communicating things like emotions.

One major barrier to effective workplace communication is the use of jargon. Jargon is terminology that is limited to a specific field or base of knowledge (Kassim & Ali, 2010). For example, people who work in the field of engineering may use a wide range of different terms that are used exclusively within their field to refer to specific things. The benefit of jargon is that it can save time if both parties understand what is being referenced.

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However, it can be a barrier to effective interpersonal communication whenever one of the parties does not know the jargon that is being used by the other party (Kassim & Ali, 2010). In many workplace interactions, the level of knowledge or skill varies among workers. For example, an expert in the field of engineering may need to communicate something about a potential problem in a system. In such a circumstance, the use of jargon could prove to be problematic if the other person did not have advanced knowledge about the field of engineering.

The engineer could benefit from using more simple terminology and taking the time to explain details. As coworkers, you have different areas of expertise, and different amounts of experience. Overusing jargon when communicating with coworkers is not the best option. Instead, it is beneficial to use simple terminology and explain things in detail whenever possible. Social, cultural, and emotional barriers may also play a role in preventing effective workplace communication. People from different cultures typically have different expectations regarding interpersonal communication.

For example, some cultures expect younger people to always respect the opinions or instructions of their elders (Gudykunst et al., 1988). In such cultures, it may be unexpected for young people to occupy positions of authority, and also for them to talk back to people who are older than them. A barrier to effective communication can arise if an older and younger person are in different positions of authority within a company. Such an issues is more likely to be present when someone from a culture other than the United States receives a job here. The culture in the United States is more based on independence and personal achievement than on respecting age.

Many young people occupy positions of authority. People working in a company can benefit from being aware of different cultures that people come from, and the expectations that go along with their cultures. To all of my coworkers, it is a good idea to listen when people reveal information about the cultures that they come from. If they witness something that goes against their cultural expectations, then it is likely that they will mention it at some point. By paying attention to the things people say, it can foster a more collaborative work environment in which people feel respected, even in cases where they come from a different culture.

Two additional barriers to effective interpersonal communication are language differences and a lack of non-verbal cues. Attitudes, status, and other things can be communicated through a person’s body language (Argyle et al., 1970). Many forms of workplace communication do not involve non-verbal cues. This is particularly true in the digital age. Many people use things like emails, text messages, and phone calls in order to instantly connect with their coworkers. However, those forms of communication do not involve non-verbal elements. It can sometimes be challenging to decipher a person’s attitudes or emotions whenever the primary form of communication is something like an email. Miscommunications can sometimes exist whenever a non-verbal message is being sent, but the medium of communication is unable to convey the non-verbal message.

Principles of Effective Communication

The most basic principle of effective communication is that the receiver of a message accepts, understands, and provides feedback on whatever is being communicated. All three different factors play an important role. A miscommunication could exist if someone never receives a message in the first place. Other issues can arise if the person gets the message, but does not completely understand what is being communicated to them. Lastly, feedback and responses play an important role, because they allow both the sender and receiver of a message to gain reassurance that they both understood what was being communicated. For example, a manager could ask a worker to handle a major marketing project, and provide them with a detailed explanation of what is expected. However, the interaction would not be done yet.

The manager could ask the worker for a response based on whether or not they understand what was expected of them, and whether or not they are able to complete it. Empathy and active listening are two skills related to effective interpersonal communication. Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to the emotions and experiences of other people (Davis, 1994). Without an adequate amount of empathy in the workplace, people may feel as if the other workers are cold and uncaring. In team-based work environments, it is more beneficial if workers think that their coworkers have their back and care about their success in the organization. Active listening is the ability to pay attention to a speaker, and to ask appropriate questions that help both parties to gain a better understanding of whatever message is being communicated.

Active listening is an important skill that all workers can benefit from learning. Effective communication is based on being patient and direct when interacting with other people, and then on getting feedback to ensure both parties have a clear understanding of whatever is being communicated. Sometimes misunderstandings can arise when the speaker rushes through a message. They may forget to include important details that would otherwise have helped both parties gain a better understanding of the interaction. Lastly, it is important for people to ask questions if they are unclear about the message being communicated. Effective communication is a two-way street, and both parties must do their job in order to create an environment where effective interpersonal communication is present.

Self-Concept and Self-Esteem

The way in which we communicate is related to our self-concept and our self-esteem. Although the two concepts are closely related, there are also some differences. An individual’s self-concept refers to their own idea about different traits or attributes that they possess (Sponcil & Gitimu, 2013). Their self-esteem is based on the value that they assign to different traits and qualities that they possess (Sponcil & Gitimu, 2013). For example, one person could have the self-concept that they are a team player and are more introverted than extroverted.

Their self-esteem could be high or low, depending on the value that they assign to those traits. In some cultures, team players and introverted people may be held in a higher regard, which would likely result in the person having higher self-esteem. In other cultures that value things like extroversion and independence, the same person may have a lower sense of self-esteem. Cultures vary with regard to different traits that are seen as better or worse than others. Regardless of what traits are valued by cultures or individuals, self concept and self-esteem are related to communication. Young people often form a concept about themselves based on their interactions with other people. For example, a young student could realize that they are much quieter than most of their peers.

They may prefer more time alone, and then subsequently form an image about themselves based on the outcomes of their interactions. Similarly, a different person may have a history of having negative interactions with other people as a result of things like anger. They may then form a self-concept, and eventually base their self-esteem on the way that they communicate with other people. People who are able to maintain healthy relationships with coworkers and friends will usually have a higher self-esteem than those who are unable to do so. If other people are constantly reacting in a negative way towards a particular individual, then it can sometimes cause that person to view themselves in a negative way as well. It is important for coworkers and friends to stay positive and maintain healthy relationships with the people around them.

Self-Disclosure and Emotional Intelligence

Self-disclosure and emotional intelligence are important topics related to interpersonal communication. Self-disclosure refers to the extent of information about themselves that a person is willing to share or express with other people (Sponcil & Gitimu, 2013). Different levels of self-disclosure are appropriate for different types of interpersonal communication. For example, a family or close friend will typically reveal much more about their own emotions and opinions than two coworkers. In the workplace, some level of self-disclosure is needed. People can establish trust and work better together if they get to know each other on a professional level.

However, it is usually not appropriate for coworkers to go into depth about their own personal feelings or things that are going on in their own lives. Such interactions are fine when done outside of the workplace, but it is a better option for coworkers to limit their self-disclosure whenever they are in the workplace. For example, it may be a better option for coworkers to refrain from confessing their attraction to a coworker whenever they are in the workplace. While it is recommended for workers to exercise some discretion with regard to selfdisclosure in the workplace, the same is not true of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to correctly understand and interpret the emotions of other people, while also exercising emotional self-control. Emotional intelligence is useful in a wide variety of different workplace scenarios.

For example, a manager could identify that one of the workers is slowly losing their motivation and getting burned out. Although the worker may not have directly voiced their feelings, a person with a high level of emotional intelligence would likely be able to identify what the person was feeling even if they did not voice it. In addition, emotional intelligence is useful when conflicts arise. Many interpersonal conflicts, both inside and outside of the workplace, are related to human emotions. People may become upset if they think that other people are treating them poorly or failing to understand their perspective. Managers and coworkers with a high level of emotional intelligence are able to control their own emotions when interacting with other people. The result is that they are less likely to have emotional outbursts that can make conflicts spiral out of control.

Interpersonal Conflict Resolution

Even the most productive workplace teams sometimes experience conflicts in the workplace. Sometimes conflicts are rooted in misunderstandings, whereas other situations exist in which a person causes a conflict as a result of their inability to identify or control their own emotions or reactions to their surroundings. In general, a few different skills and strategies can help to resolve interpersonal conflicts that may arise. The first is to practice active listening.

Getting the details about a conflict or potential misunderstanding is the first step in arriving at a resolution. Both parties can be asked to calmly share their own perspective on the conflict. If no manager or mediator is involved in resolving the dispute, then both parties in the conflict can benefit from using active listening in order to gain a better understanding of the other person’s perspective. Another strategy for resolving conflicts in the workplace is to remain focused on the future and finding a workable solution to a problem. Sometimes people make mistakes or say things that they do not mean. People who constantly focus on the past or on the hurt they felt from someone else may have a difficult time accepting an apology or finding a solution and moving forward. A better option is for people involved in a conflict to focus on the future.

An example conflict would be if a parent took time off of work during their pregnancy, and then returned immediately after their pregnancy. Imagine a coworker insulted them for poor performance, and suggested that they take more time off to take care of their child before returning to their job. The mom may feel offended that someone thinks that they know what is best. Such a situation could be handled by both parties explaining their own perspective, and what their reasons were for saying the things that they did. Then, the conflict could be resolved by both parties focusing on the future. The mom could choose whether it is a better option to take more time off or return to work, and the coworker could apologize if the things they said were taken out of context and seemed offensive.

Gender and Culture

Gender and culture are important factors in interpersonal communication. Some cultures have gender roles, and people may react in a negative way if people of a certain gender act in a way other than what they expected. The United States is based on principles of equality and fairness. Although gender roles played a major role in the past, the United States has worked to reduce the inequalities that members of different gender face in the workplace. As coworkers, you can benefit from removing prejudices and stereotypes surrounding gender. All people in the workplace should be given respect, regardless of their position or their gender.

Conclusion

As coworkers, you will likely face a wide range of different challenges in the workplace. Some conflicts may spiral into major issues that must be settled by third parties. On the other hand, following the advice from this letter, it is likely that many conflicts will be able to be handled before they turn into anything major. By practicing things like empathy, active listening, and emotional intelligence, you can create a more positive workplace experience for all workers. Conflicts will naturally arise over time, but the way in which you respond to and resolve the conflicts is what is most important.

Cite this page

Effective Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace: Self-Concept, Self-Esteem, Self-Disclosure, Emotional Intelligence, and Conflict Resolution. (2022, Nov 06). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/effective-interpersonal-communication-in-the-workplace-self-concept-self-esteem-self-disclosure-emotional-intelligence-and-conflict-resolution-essay

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