Creating an Effective Communication Climate

A Communication climate refers to the tone of the relationship as expressed by the verbal and non-verbal messages between people.  The communication climate is created by the way people feel about each other.

A positive communication climate is created when people feel they are valued.  In a positive communication climate people interact confidently and courteously.  Their relationships are built on openness, honesty and trust which comes from the goodwill they feel towards one another.  People are willing to speak with others, to listen carefully, ask questions and offer feedback.  Information and ideas are conveyed accurately.

A negative communication climate is created when the contribution of individuals is not appreciated.  A negative climate makes it difficult for people to get and give information and to take action, because it is hard to communicate.  People feel uncomfortable and unwilling to interact.  Consequently, they are less willing to ask questions, or offer ideas and feedback, and are more inclined to wait and see what happens.  The accuracy of the communication declines and interpersonal relationships are less effective in a negative communication climate.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and feel as the other person feels.  Those who are able to show empathy have the skill to let others know their message has made contact, and the ability to respond appropriately.  Empathetic people have the skill to:

  • attend to what is said
  • retain objectivity and distance
  • recognise non-verbal cues about the feelings of others
  • understand the content part of the message
  • understand the feelings in the message
  • communicate their understanding to others.

Empathy enhances the communication climate.  The tone of the communication is positive and the communication is about what is happening now.  Communication is about the needs and interests of the people communicating.

Win-Win Approach

The win-win approach to communication is about concentrating on the needs and interests of the people communicating.  Rather than winning positions or gaining victories over the other person, the win-win approach lets you gather or give information in a way that creates a positive communication climate and results in accurate information transfer.  The communication is more likely to get things done and to maintain and build goodwill because each person understands the needs and interests of the other.

Self-Disclosure

At work, people may learn a lot or very little about their colleagues.  It depends on how much people are willing to disclose about themselves.  Self-disclosure involves showing how you react and feel about the present situation and giving any information about the past that affects this reaction; in this way, you allow others to know more about you.  This openness comes from an acceptance and appreciation of yourself.  Others come to understand you by knowing how you react.

Self-disclosure does not mean you have to reveal intimate details about your past.  It means sharing ideas and feelings.  As you self-disclose, you also provide feedback to others on how their behaviour is affecting you.  The amount of self-disclosure is affected by the communication climate.  In a positive climate people disclose more, in a negative climate they disclose less.

Both self-disclosing and feedback increase understanding and lead to more open communication.  This allows you to establish closer, more satisfying relationships at work, and in your social and family life.

Effective Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication takes place in the workplace whenever two or more people interact on a one-to-one basis or in small groups.  When the actions taken as a result of your communication match your intentions, your interpersonal communication is effective.  The message is received accurately.  Others perceive your message . as you intend it to be received.

Workplace relationships built on effective communication work well.  Those built on poor communication do not work so well.  People who operate effectively in interpersonal relationships at work and elsewhere possess five general qualities.  These qualities are supported by specific interpersonal skills, as follows.

Openness – is the capacity to respond frankly and spontaneously to people and situations, and the ability to acknowledge your own feelings and thoughts.

Empathy – is the ability to understand and feel as the other person feels.  Empathy enables you to hear the unsaid and understand the other’s thoughts.

Supportiveness – is the ability to supply descriptive and spontaneous feedback to another person in a provisional or tentative manner.  A provisional or tentative manner shows that your mind is open to other ideas and indicates a willingness to change your opinion.

Positivenes – s is the ability to communicate in a confident way while also acknowledging the other person.

Equality – describes a communication climate that recognises each person in the interaction as worthwhile, with something to contribute.

Confidence- is the ability to feel comfortable with the other person and the situation.

Immediacy – refers to the sense of contact the listener receives from the person communicating.  It refers to what is happening ‘here and now’.

Interaction management – refers to the balance between the sender and listener as each acts on the other.  In an effective interaction, both parties are satisfied.

Expressiveness – refers to involvement-both as sender and receiver-in the interpersonal interaction.  Give appropriate and informative feedback during the interaction.

Other-orientation- is the ability to attend to and informative feedback during the interaction

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