21 June 2022

What causes miscommunication in the work environment and how to fix it?

Communication is a very significant factor at work because it controls the flow of work and is directly correlated to what the company and employees achieve. When there are disturbances in communication, miscommunication appears which then disrupts the normal patterns of work and can shake people out of their work flow. This is a serious thing that has to be addressed, solved and improved so communication remains effective in the future. From workplace statistics, a high 28% of employees see poor communication as the reason for not delivering work results. In addition, 97% of employees think that communication impacts the efficacy of their tasks on a daily basis. As it can be seen, great communication has major importance for employees so it has to be established. However, first we need to find out what actually causes miscommunication at work and then we can add some ideas on how to fix it.

The first cause of miscommunication is lack of context. Context in business means the background or environment surrounding an occurrence. It gives clarification and purpose for any responsibilities or tasks to be done. When something has to be done, for example, a report presentation of an event. Firstly, there has to be context of the event that the presentation will be about, formality of the presenter, and audience. Without these details, the whole task could waste a lot of time, money and be done completely wrong. Lack of context can damage relationships and lead to business failure. To prevent miscommunication happening this way, the employees should be given enough time to ask all the important questions and give their work for review.

The second cause of miscommunication is false assumptions. Assumptions happen when something is thought to be true but is not verified. Such instances happen in business when making decisions because some things are standardized, however, it is not always the time to assume especially when it may relate to specific details such as the wishes of the consumer. A good amount of research has to be done along with a clearly known context to avoid failure through assumptions. At work, to avoid this you should confirm anything you heard and also precisely use your own words so it does not cause disbalances in communication.

The third cause of miscommunication is the lack of engaged active listening. It is crucial to learn to actively pay attention to the person who is talking to you. We are mostly focused on thinking when we will talk or what we will say and this further in the line can create a lot of miscommunication. Active listening means that we are able to concentrate on what another person is saying, hear the words that we need to hear and proactively respond if anything is unclear. Overall, to fix this common communication problem, you should get rid of all the distractions such as phones by switching off notifications and putting them away and fully focus on the listener. Make eye contact, carefully listen and finally ask questions to make sure your understanding is complete. The more you become an active listener, the better you will understand people and make them feel like you actually listen to every single word.

As the last cause of miscommunication, the medium of internal communication is a great one. Now with the rise of remote work, the options for communication have drastically increased. You can pick in-person meetings, video meetings, email, LinkedIn messages, Slack, phone calls or texts and in-app messaging. It is very important for the company or the team to figure out which channel suits the best for specific needs. When the wrong one is chosen, messages can be lost and communication can be disrupted. The employees may not feel comfortable in the communication channel or use it carelessly especially when a few channels at once are used. To fix this problem, the team has to agree on the norms of the communication channel and what channels will be used for which conversations. This may differ a lot from company to company so I need to choose wisely.

Miscommunication can be caused by multiple things, however, just as easily it can also be fixed. It is crucial to remember that communication at work has to flow smoothly because only this way successful work results will be achieved. Communication is an integral part of any process so to assure that internally and externally it operates well, the ideas mentioned in the article have to be implemented.

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