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Effective Communication

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Running Head: Effective Communication 1

In order to be an effective manager in the work force today, one must have a very good understanding of the various ways in which people interact and communicate with one another. It is critical that good leaders display the ability to effectively communicate with their associates and subordinates as well as train and encourage others to demonstrate those same communication skills. By doing so, they will promote both a healthy and efficient work environment that everyone will be sure to enjoy.

The first challenge in effectively communicating with today's workforce is diversity. The work force today is more diverse than ever and is rapidly becoming even more diversified as time passes. Leaders are already facing differences from many levels of society. And with every new group that enters into the workforce, there are still the cultural differences such as customs, beliefs, and expectations that are thrown into the mix as well. All of this, as well as many other issues only further complicates the task of achieving effective communication on all levels.

Perhaps the first and most obvious difference in the work environment is the difference of the sexes. Women

Running Head: Effective Communication 2

possess a tendency to be more subtle or convincing rather than shouting out demands. Studies have shown that women are more likely to construct their requests in the form of suggestions or leading questions rather than be more direct (Adult Learner's Guide, 1999). The conflict is evident if one considers the fact that males possess the complete opposite tendency. Men are often more direct and to the point. These two contrasting attributes are a fertile breeding ground for misunderstandings of all sorts. Women also do not hesitate to mix business with personal talk where men are more anxious to get to the details of the business at hand. For women this seems to be a double edged sword. On the one hand, the personal talk brings down some barriers and lets each one get to know the other so everyone is comfortable. This works in their favor in situations where they are meeting a group or individual for the first time. But on the other hand, after they become acquainted, women have trouble separating their personal feelings and allowing them to enter into their business talk as well as their daily business activities.

After the different sexes, different ethnic groups emerge as the next most noticeable distinguishing characteristics of individuals. People of different race

Running Head: Effective Communication 3

have lived and worked together for many years but not without a fair share of problems. The United States have long been labeled as the "Great Melting Pot", and with good reason. American culture is by far the most diverse culture in all of the world. Not only are Americans exposed to new and different ethnics groups more often, but different ethnic groups and cultures are experiencing each other for the first time in America as well. As people become more mobile on an international level, they experience a vast array of behavior. These behaviors will even vary as one moves across the country. Take for example the difference in just the northern and southern states and their preconceived notions each holds of the other. There are people in northern states that believe people of the southern states do not wear shoes or have running water in their households. Because of this false image, they automatically assume that southern people are of a lower intellect. People of southern states tend to believe that northerners are rude and uncaring which is also a misconception. These types of preconceived notions are also present for every race and culture on the planet and they differ from culture to culture for each other. It is very difficult but even more important for today's

Running Head: Effective Communication 4

leaders to put these preconceived notions to rest. One must remember that just because a person looks Korean, that it is possible that they have never even been to Korea. They could very well be a forth generation American and therefore hold the same values and views as most all other Americans (Adler & Elmhorst, 1999). If this is true, they may be offended if someone was to treat them noticeably different or assume that they did not know how to do something. Even though a person has not voiced these thoughts, their actions can communicate these thoughts just as effectively. This is just one of the many types of subtle communication in which all people notice. It is imperative that leaders treat their subordinates and co-workers based on merit rather than assumptions made on their looks or backgrounds. A multicultural workforce is an asset only if each individual is treated equally and fair as the others. As team members witness their leader treating everyone with equality and fairness, they will be more inclined to emulate these actions with one another. This will in turn help the group to value diversity and develop creative problem solving skills (Pierce & Newstrom, 1996).

Running Head: Effective Communication 5

Different sexes and cultures are a couple of mindsets that leaders of today will have to struggle with, but what of the proper communication techniques that may be utilized? Perhaps by using the proper techniques, a leader will be able to cope with a more diverse workforce much easier. Effective listening is probably the single most skill in which will insure clear communication. Studies have shown that people spend well over one third of their time listening (Adler & Elmhorst, 1999). However, people tend to go into an automatic listening mode where they start to make conclusions based on assumptions that they feel they already know. People are constantly agreeing and disagreeing with a speaker's comments and basing their conclusions on this list of agreements and disagreements (Pierce & Newstrom, 1996). Leaders must possess the ability not only to hear exactly what the speaker is saying, but extracting what the speaker is trying to say. They must keep themselves from making any type of judgment until they are sure they understand the message the speaker is trying to portray. They must be able to separate the feelings of the speaker from the statement they are trying to get across. The best method for insuring that they understand the intended message clearly is to paraphrase

Running Head: Effective Communication 6




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