Human relationship is one of the most complex areas that are to be managed in the organizations. Importantly, communication is the key to success in any group, as mutual understanding and interaction are fundamental to the creation of new ideas and building long-term effective operation. It is the responsibility and the challenge of Human Resource Management (HRM) to ensure that organizations operate as living organisms, which can embrace diversity (DeKay, 2012).
Fundamentally, communication is not just about the verbal interaction. The communication is multifaceted, involving the receiver and sender of information and their emotional response to the process (Drain, 2016). This information can be transferred through verbal and non-verbal communication methods. To be able to fully understand others and express self, it is important to learn about various methods and channels of communication and appropriateness of its use in various circumstances. The course of Business Communication shed a lot of light on the challenges of organizations in establishing the communication, methods and communication media as well as responses that can address each challenge. The purpose of this reflection is to touch upon the three major learning outcomes, including methods and media, challenges and application of communication theory and, finally, response to the cultural differences.
Communication Media and Methods
Communication is diverse. The business environment in which companies today operate is increasingly diverse as well. The cultural and professional differences, along with the internationalization of businesses expand the means and tools, used to communicate. Communication media includes such traditional means of communication as meetings, phone calls and letters as well as new channels, such as WebEx, video conferences, e-mails, chats, among others. Each of these channels of communication is appropriate for specific situations. One of the most important learnings that I will take away is the fact that there is no right or wrong communication tools. Rather, it is important to understand the preferences of individuals involved in the communication method and the means available to the group for communication (McLean, 2005). The decisions on communication media and channels, therefore, must be made, based on common decision and consideration of diversity.
Organizations are comprised of people. Everyone is different, and it is fundamental for the companies to understand these differences, which drive communication.With that in mind, feedback is a fundamental part of communication as it allows to address the critical challenge of finding compromise and achieving empathy as the foundation of communication and information exchange (Leavitt and Mueller, 1951; Benett, 1971). More specifically, many people tend to look at others, and, thus, build their interaction through the prism of own self. This prevents people to establish a unique and effective communication channel, which leads to the creation of new ideas and trust. As such, according to Benett (1971), we act with understanding and acceptance, but not with the desire to learn from others. Only by switching from sympathy to empathy groups are truly able to achieve successful and open communication, based on trust. I learn that this ability to actively listen and learn from others, even, when the opinions of people seem to be new and unclear, is fundamental to my personal and professional growth (Ellington, 2001).
Another important learning from the course is the development of communication in stages and the different challenges that individuals and organizations face on each stage. As such, Berger and Calabrese (1975) discuss the uncertainty and the difficulties in establishing trust in communication between individuals in the early stages of interaction. Indeed, when reflecting on situations in which the new organization (group, faculty) is created, one of the most important difficulties to be overcome is the transparency and, thus, trust. Choosing the communication methods, clear and understood by each member, therefore is central to resolving this challenge. The uncertainty reduction theory, discussed by the academics, including Berger and Calabrese (1975) and Sunnafrank (1990) explains the importance of common goal and alignment of expectations among individuals. I strongly believe that the creation of common goals and transparent alignment of expectations are critical to me and others in any workplace or academic situations.
Culture and Communication
We often talk about differences and preferences. The fact is that everyone comes with a different background. This background is determined by the national and individual culture of people, who participate in the interaction. I found it very interesting to learn about the contribution of culture to communication. This learning came from theoretical insight into the national culture by Hofstede (2001) as well as discussions on language and culture that we have had during the course. An important learning is that even the fact that people come from the same nationality does not make these individuals identical in their approach and understanding of the world. Worldviewsare influenced by family, social environment, education as well as language and culture (traditions, religion etc.). Indeed, when I think about the work that we have done in groups, I realize that the culture of the university, school as well as what I have learned in my closer social environment affect my uncertainty avoidance, patience, learning style and even interpretation of the basic terms and happenings. The example that was given to us about the time management is very interesting as it explains the simple “truth” built by individual cultures. The same way, culture in many ways explains whether I see a glass half empty or half full. This vision is what I will try to pass to the receiver of my message. The way this message is interpreted, however, is influenced by both, my and his culture. To be able to communicate effectively and respond to the cultural challenges, we should continuously learn about diversity and inclusion. Avoiding the Golden Rule, therefore, is also an important task of cultural literacy in communication and interaction (Benett, 1971; Hofstede, 2001).
Communication is the key to living in society and expanding the comfort zone. It is fundamental to understand that communication always involves at least two parties, and mutual understanding and empathy are essential to the effective exchange of information. The course has taught me a lot about the need for self-development and cultural literacy. The knowledge about other people´s learning styles, the impact of communication media and channels, differences in national and corporate culture, language barriers, among others can significantly improve the communication and build trust and transparent relationships. Communication is a dynamic process and, thus, active listening and insight into verbal as well as non-verbal communication are as important as a clear expression of own thoughts and ideas.
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