PEOPLE at work experience communication concerns every now and then. While some may be easily fixed, others may be challenging to deal with. Any social and professional relationship is a potential source of communication issues; but what may be tough to handle are misinterpretations that can cause arguments, stress and tension at the office.

The workplace is home to different personalities who have been handpicked to perform certain tasks. They may come from different backgrounds, social status and varied cultures. The diversity in personalities brings about differences in opinions that can lead to disagreements and misunderstandings. With these, conflicts may arise and can make communication even more difficult. While everyone believes that he can help achieve the goals of the company, each one has varied thoughts, contributions, feedbacks and responses of his own. In order to prevent further arguments at the workplace, it would be good to understand the reasons why communication issues occur.

  • Differences in culture contribute to miscommunication that may lead to conflicts between people who may interpret things differently because of certain values and beliefs. What could be a norm for some cultures may be offensive to another. I remember when a colleague shared his first few encounters with new recruits in the office. He mentioned that they normally have lunch together as a group, but he noticed that very often, he would be left alone on the table when the newbies are done with lunch. He finds it rude that they leave the table right away after their meal. When he confronted them, he was told after that in their culture, somewhere in the Northern part of the Philippines, the dining table is only meant for eating and it is not considered a place for hanging around or for discussion. It was only then that he understood.
  • Language is another factor for miscommunication and this includes choice of words, tone and pitch. Native speakers often get misunderstood and unfortunately, at times, are laughed upon. They may carry heavy intonation of their common language; some may sound angry while others have a pleasant sweet tone of voice. Others may even be loud and fast when speaking that may seem annoying. It may be bothersome for some in the beginning and may cause communication breakdown, however, colleagues may get used to it after a while.
  • Poor listening skills can also affect communication flow. One may encounter a colleague who does not know how to listen but speaks his mind like he is the most intelligent person in the world and thinks that your input is not important. He likes interrupting; hence, you may not be able to finish what you have to say. When you meet this person, it may be frustrating but try not to get bothered. It would be best to say, “Hold on a second, let me finish first” in a normal and pleasant tone of voice.
  • Nonverbal cues contribute to communication issues at the workplace as well. This includes posture, body language, facial expressions, gestures, and eye-contact. These are factors that may further hinder communication especially if one or both parties are exhibiting negative body language. Unconsciously, the negativity shows varied expressions such as frustration, anxiety, impatience, lack of confidence or even boredom. Manifesting inappropriate body language send undesirable consequences. A good communicator is mindful about nonverbal signs while speaking.

Remember that at the workplace, people do human interaction. Part of this interaction is building relationships with clients and co-workers. To create better relationships, great communication skills must be learned and practiced in order to avoid conflicts.