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Communication Issues in the Workplace

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Within the workplace, there are many factors that affect overall communications. These factors alone may not break down the barriers of communication; however, when you add two or three factors together, the lines of communication begin to weaken. This deterioration of communication leads to larger issues and slowly the company begins to fail. When a company fails, everyone suffers. Knowing how to handle workplace communication issues can mean the difference between a company that stays in business for hundreds of years and a company that is only able to stay in business for a couple of months. Although communications have been, researched, analyzed, and discussed in great detail, there seem to still be many problems and issues that are never altered. To understand communication issues, one much first understand communication and how it affects our lives on a daily basis. Our research, interpretations, solutions, and conclusions are discussed in further detail.

Communication Issues in the Workplace

Spoken language is a form of communication that stands out above all other forms of communication. This is the primary way we communicate. Expressing our thoughts as we speak, helps aid in our verbal communication. Body language and gestures can make a person’s perception of our communication a lot clearer. If you have ever listened to a monotone person speak, it is hard to understand their feelings on the subject. When they incorporate gestures and tone, we are able to see their point and understand their meaning.

Different people use this ability in different ways. When giving information we want to speak, how we speak is different depending on the location we are in. There are so many languages that it becomes hard to communicate with people. Even different dialects within a language make verbal communication difficult. An accent can cause someone that speaks the same language to become confused and misinterpret the meaning of speech. Because of this, we have evolved our language skills to use non-verbal communication. How and聽where we are raised determine both our verbal and non-verbal language.

Culture seems to be the biggest factor in our communication skills. With America being such a diverse place, we have to learn to change our style of communication. There are so many cultures represented in America that it is impossible to have one single agreeable way to communicate. Where we are raised and what we believe is the foundation to our thoughts. This is what aids us in our communication. Culture changes drastically as you move around the world. Spoken language will change as you spin the globe. Although most languages are linked to our roots, it is difficult to understand.

We have evolved so much in our own separated areas that we have lost touch with our past. As discussed earlier, dialects are an example of this problem. Within the English language, there are two main separators. You have American English and the English of Great Britain and Ireland. The two languages have the same base. There are words that mean the same, but are spelled differently. You have words that are used for slang in one language that are not used in the other. This makes understanding very difficult. Some cultures have combined languages to form their own. Belgium and Vietnam are two prime examples. We overcome this issue by learning about cultures and languages.

In the technologically advanced, fast-paced world in which we are employed, issues in communications can cause creativity and production to come to a screeching halt. In today’s world, we live by email, letters, and memorandums that are sent out electronically over the Internet. Written communication is becoming our primary way of communicating in the workforce more and more every day. When dealing with this issue on a personal basis, we understand the person because we know them. You have an understanding of them as a whole. Slang and special icons have made personal written communication easier to understand. When dealing with written communication on a professional basis, it can be hard to get the proper point across. Written communication has dominated the work place for a few years. Gone are the days of team meetings and face-to-face conflict resolution. How we express ourselves can leave a lasting impression on someone we have never met in person.

Certain factors can have a huge impact on communications in the workforce. For instance, if you are at a “desk job”, where your job depends on communications via the Internet or email, a computer virus can cause all communications to come to a crashing halt. With over 50,000 known viruses and new versions of those viruses being developed on a daily basis, it is a matter of time before a virus infects your computer at work. When this happens, all communications must stop, as the network must be repaired. Although 50,000 is not a large number when compared to the number of computers in the workforce, it only takes one virus to completely destroy a mainframe.

In 1990, estimates ranged from 200 to 500; then in 1991 estimates ranged from 600 to 1,000 different viruses. In late 1992, estimates were ranging from 1,000 to 2,300 viruses. In mid-1994, the numbers vary from 4,500 to over 7,500 viruses. In 1996 the number climbed over 10,000. 1998 saw 20,000 and 2000 topped 50,000. It’s easy to say there are more now. (www.cknow.com/vtutor/vtnumber.htm) It is difficult to calculate the correct number of viruses circulating. There is not one method of counting. While some persons count every strand or replica of any virus as an additional virus, others only count the first initial virus that comes out. For example, if a virus is designed to recreate itself as a different strand, 10 times some people count that as 10 additional viruses, while others count it as still the one since it stemmed from the original virus strand.

A company can protect themselves from viruses by implementing certain regulations for opening emails. Scanning all attachments before opening will diminish the possibility of a known virus destroying the mainframe, however, it will not protect against a new virus that has been unleashed on the world that day. Using common sense and proper education of employees on viruses can assist in solving that problem. Knowledge is power.

Symantec Security Response (http://www.norton.com/) encourages all users and administrators to adhere to the following basic security “best practices”:

路 Turn off and remove unneeded services. By default, many operating systems install auxiliary services that are not critical, such as an FTP server, telnet, and a Web server. These services are avenues of attack. If they are removed, blended threats have less avenues of attack and you have fewer services to maintain through patch updates.

路 If a blended threat exploits one or more network services, disable, or block access to, those services until a patch is applied.

路 Always keep your patch levels up-to-date, especially on computers that host public services and are accessible through the firewall, such as HTTP, FTP, mail, and DNS services.

路 Enforce a password policy. Complex passwords make it difficult to crack password files on compromised computers. This helps to prevent or limit damage when a computer is compromised.

路 Configure your email server to block or remove email that contains file attachments that are commonly used to spread viruses, such as .vbs, .bat, .exe, .pif and .scr files.

路 Isolate infected computers quickly to prevent further compromising your organization. Perform a forensic analysis and restore the computers using trusted media.

路 Train employees not to open attachments unless they are expecting them. Also, do not execute software that is downloaded from the Internet unless it has been scanned for viruses. Simply visiting a compromised Web site can cause infection if certain browser vulnerabilities are not patched.

While no computer is completely virus-proof, taking the proper educational measures could assist in preventing a catastrophe. A company should set regular network down time for routine maintenance, including updating virus scan software. A simple “lock-down” of a network when a virus threat is present can eliminate many chances of acquiring a virus. This is a simple聽maneuver that can be done by the network administrations department. By not allowing outside communications to filter through the email system, it reduces the risk of being infected. If you lock down a network completely, meaning not allowing any access to the Internet, that produces an even greater chance of staying virus free. Many employees have outside email addresses that they check while they are at work. While it is unknown exactly how the viruses are downloaded, any protective measure can assist in remaining virus free.

Although viruses are a huge threat to network communications, simple communication issues between employee and bosses can cause a bigger catastrophe. Nowadays people feel it is easy to look down on someone simply because of their position, either we’re not ranked as high as them or they fell they are superior to regular employees. We have all been put in a situation at work where our superiors talk down to us due to their position and assumed knowledge. Many managers and supervisors forget they once were regular waged employees. Once they are promoted all they see is power and their new salary. There are, however, the few that are able to treat each employee as an individual and not allow his or her power create an egotistical situation.

According to a survey conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide Inc., employees’ personal problems have an impact on job performance by decreasing productivity, increasing absenteeism and contributing to poor emotional and physical health. Stress is the most experienced problem affecting job performance and illness and death in the family are major contributors along with depression as the main cause for illnesses in the workplace.” (Personnel Journal, p21, 2p). Currently, manufacturing companies located in State College, Pennsylvania, are closing their doors due to the competitive market in The European countries. Employees are being laid off and cannot find work with similar wages and benefits. This creates hardship and additional stress due to the pressure of meeting survival needs.

Looking back to twenty years ago, life is more complex today than it was yesterday. The baby boom generation of the 1950 to 1970’s is observing the聽next generation is expecting to reap what they have worked for 20 years to receive right away. Overall, those groups have always wanted more for their children than what they ever had and now are facing problems with them. The next generation is taking and looking at the new work force to give them more than what their ancestors were given and more stress is being put on this group. More women are working today than staying at home and taking of the family. There are more family problems due to trying to raise a family, working full time, taking care of the bills, and cleaning the house. Families must have better communications between one another so the past, present, and the future operate at 100%.

Changing our personal style is the answer to many communication issues. If you have ever had to communicate with a person that cannot hear, how do you get your information to them? Would you be able to use that same method with a person that cannot see? These are some examples of how we change our style of communication. These are major differences, but the principal is the same. You would not explain an explicit scene in a movie to a mature person the way you would to an immature person or child. You would not use certain phrases with your chief executive that you would use with you best friend. Because we have to change our styles of communication with different people, we have all learned to come together at a happy medium. Adjusting our speech, body language, and mannerisms when dealing with separate individuals or groups is evident throughout each person’s day. Even when we cannot be in agreement on a topic, we learn to focus our attention to how we say and show our thoughts. Being understood is the key to successful communication.

In order to maintain proper communication between employees and their managers; managers should be given a management course before they are promoted. All employees are trained before their promotion is final but adding an extra training class to ensure proper treatment of fellow co-workers. Adding a management control class can avoid potential disagreements between mangers and their employees. It can also teach managers that they are not to talk down to their employees due to their position and they shouldn’t let the power get to their head.

Another way to keep track of performance between managers and their employees is to have weekly surveys done by both the employees and the managers. This will keep track of the manager’s performance. It cannot only monitor their performance weekly but it can produce feed back from their co-workers that might help improve their methods. In all fairness the manager should also have the opportunity to monitor their co-workers performance and conduct weekly surveys as well. It would help keep everyone in perspective of what his or her strong and weak points may be. As stated in Assessing Communication Behavior: An Application within the Public Relations Profession, those companies with a wider span of control engaged in a greater amount of communication aimed at regulating work behavior and solving work problems.

Another useful method of proper communication between upper and lower management would be to conduct daily pre-shifts. Now daily pre-shifts can be anywhere from fifteen to twenty minutes prior to the start of the workday. At this time managers can advise their employees of their daily expectances and cover any important material that would need to be completed by the end of the day. Employees can take advantage of this time to properly understand any new material that is covered and to ask any questions they might have. This time can also be used to resolve any issues before work to assure a great working environment and potential disagreement through out the day. It has been noted in CEO’s On Innovation that there is importance of establishing trust and communication between employees and management in order to make effective changes at a company. However petty and unimportant a little meeting might seem to other companies some might take the extra time to ensure proper communication and a successful outcome.

Some companies are now offering assistance programs called Employee Assistance Services. These programs offer not only crisis counseling and substance abuse but it enhances services for financial, and legal counseling, and stress related sources. In addition, it supports Human Resources Departments suggesting training programs for all levels of employees regarding discrimination, harassment and other concerns and dilemmas. Second, exit interviews are offered to establish any problems聽occurring in the office environment and surrounding areas

To improve ourselves, we reach out in many different ways. The one thing that brings our knowledge in is communication. Whether we read a book, watch a documentary, or sit in on a lecture, we are communicating in one way or another. We all strive to learn. What we learn is up to us as individuals, but how we learn is a matter of communication skills. You have learned about different types of communication and how it affects the work place. You have learned how the different cultures that surround us affect our communication our professional lives. We have discussed how there are things in our lives that we cannot control, such as stress, conflict or an illness and how that affects our communication. This paper has covered a large area of communication and issues that surround it. We have improved our knowledge through communication once again. Now that you have received the information we have passed to you, it is time to end this communication.

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