A Short Guide about Interpersonal Communication for Small Businesses
Christopher Jan Benitez
Effective and proper interpersonal communication* is necessary for team collaboration in small businesses.
It enables teams to function properly as it’s the only way members share opinions and ideas with each other. This also helps improve employees’ bonds with each other.
However, maintaining the right communication in the team is challenging. You need to consider many things and ensure every step is implemented carefully.
If you want to know more about interpersonal communication and collaboration, and you’d like to improve your business’ efficiency, then keep reading.
Start the change you want to see with yourself.
Assess your attitude and personality. Are you frank or do you prefer to talk in the kindest way possible even if it means going around in circles? Do you listen to others’ ideas and opinions?
It’s in asking these questions that you become a better team member.
Think of ways to improve your attitude towards work and coworkers. Work on your interpersonal communication and management skills to improve relations with others. Be approachable at all times.
This way, you’re opening up your team to innovation and further development. Assessing yourself also makes it easier to assess your work environment. You can compare yourself with how your team is doing in relation to your workspace.
Ensure team efficiency
Team communication issues are usually symptoms of bigger problems. It’s possible your team struggles with roles, cohesion, or personal matters. Fully-functional teams aren’t made overnight. They’re the product of months or years of hard work and determination.
Maintain a culture of confidence and competitiveness in the team by setting daily, monthly, and annual goals. Ensure that you’ve got the right people doing the right tasks. Everyone should fit in perfectly with their roles.
They should also maintain friendships among each other, even outside work. Evaluate their progress, offer incentives, and train them regularly. You want to have an open culture where everyone works together in achieving one goal.
Team communication is a common issue among virtual teams. Schedule regular physical meetings if you’re running an online business. These don’t need to take hours at end. Even talking for a few minutes with your team aligns goals.
It reminds them they’re part of an existing business. Sometimes, people need something tangible to become motivated. Meeting personally with your team is an effective communication strategy in building tighter bonds with each other.
You can even schedule a team building session in a resort and treat it like a mini-vacation. Not only does this improve bonds, but it also lets you know each other more.
Share mutual time zones
Operating a business with workers from different time zones is challenging, but not impossible. Find a way to communicate well across different time zones. Setting official office hours enables members to discuss anything with each other.
It also helps speed up response rate, which comes in handy if someone is asking about something. Don’t schedule many meetings. Instead, encourage messaging in a group chat box during office hours.
Share your expectations
Team members easily lose track of guidelines and job responsibilities over time. To avoid this, it’s best to have a place featuring the team’s expectations. Note it down so that members will have something to refer to when needed.
New members can also check this out. It’s an effective way of orienting them on what needs to be done and how they should act while working. Guidelines should include which channels members must use for communication.
Have separate channels as well. It’s best to have one intended for real-time communication and one for announcements.
Remove cultural barriers
Cultural diversity is beneficial in workplaces because it cultivates different ideas coming from various perspectives to improve work. However, make sure that differences don’t conflict with interpersonal communication.
Cultural differences can cause misunderstandings in work ethics as every culture has its own professional etiquette. Some cultures are also more frank than others, such as Westerners who prefer straightforward criticism compared to Asians who are usually “over-sensitive.”
Though this applies to many, this doesn’t generalize everyone. Cultural stereotypes can also slow down team integration and hinders effective interpersonal communication. To avoid this from happening, encourage members to share their comments or thoughts on specific things.
An example of this would be asking their opinion about assigned tasks. Have them write down their comments so you can have something to review later on. Provide cultural sensitivity and awareness training.
This is necessary especially if you have a member who’s part of a cultural minority. Educating members about their differences improves interpersonal communication.
Learn feedback management
Feedback is an important aspect of team communication. Your team shouldn’t struggle with receiving or giving feedback. You should give your team feedback to improve work processes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the manager or not because everyone is entitled to give feedback to others. Make sure that feedback is given properly in the form of constructive criticisms. They should also be well received and considered by recipients.
Unfortunately, giving feedback is easier said than done. It can even damage your relationship with others especially if it’s critical. Thus, it’s important to maintain professionalism in your comments. Don’t be too personal.
Be specific when giving feedback. Giving examples or situations makes the comments more acceptable for the recipient. Also, don’t hesitate in asking for more details if you think the feedback is generic. Ask for specific ways on how you can improve.
Conclusion: Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace
Team communication is a fundamental aspect of all businesses. It’s what drives innovation and enables continuity of operations.
Businesses are made up of different individuals. However, it’s through interpersonal communication that they’re able to set aside differences and work toward a common goal. Maintaining cohesiveness in the team is challenging, but it can be easier by proper communication.
Dig deeper into issues and immediately look for solutions. Search for areas which need improvement and make sure everyone feels comfortable with each other. It might seem like just building friendships, but it goes beyond that.
Having a well-knit group of individuals ensures utmost efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
Host blogger’s comments:
Readers, please share so other small business people read Christopher’s tips for improved interpersonal communication.
*Note: Interpersonal Communication can be defined as the way people exchange information. Interpersonal communication is often done by face to face communication.
I look forward to your suggestions in the comments section. Do you have any tips for improving interpersonal communication?
Check out this article about getting paid to communicate online.