Sunday, February 26, 2017

Communicating in the Workplace

     Information overload is a common problem in the workplace. This can be especially true for a new employee. When I went back to work at an insurance agency after taking a hiatus to raise my children, everything had changed.  There was a completely new computer system, new procedures, and even a new dress code. Because I already had a background in sales and was familiar with insurance, I was thrown right into my position. The computer system was completely new to me, and I often felt like I was drowning in information. There were no written instructions. The person in charge of training me showed me a few things here and there when they had time, choosing the things they felt were the most important. Whenever a new situation came up, I had to go to someone for help again. After a few weeks, I got the hang of the system, but it was a challenge. One of the things that helped me deal with the information overload, was to make my own training manual that outlined the step by step process of each of the tasks I needed to master.  I added to it regularly. The next time someone was hired, it was my turn to train them. In addition to offering hands-on help, I gave them my manual, and they said it made it much easier to adjust to our computer system. 

     The person presenting this information to me originally did the best they could with what they had to work with. Training wasn’t usually their department, and they had other work to handle as well. The management at the office could have handled this situation much better. There should be people especially assigned to training, and specific steps and manuals they can use to help with this process.  If the company was more organized, the training process would go smoothly, creating less frustration for employees and better performance.

     There are many other techniques that can be used to help prevent information overload in the workplace. The first step is to make sure that you stick to one topic at a time. Jumping from one thing to another causes unnecessary confusion. It is also important that you clearly state your objective. Keep your message simple and to the point. Choose one format, such as video, PowerPoints, or charts, and stick with that throughout. Before giving your presentation, go over the information, and cut out anything that is unnecessary or confusing. Keep things short and to the point, and summarize your key points effectively at the end of the presentation ("Elearning Industry", 2013).

     Four important design elements of business documents are consistency, balance, restraint, and detail.  These are powerful tools in any form of communication, but are especially relevant when using an electronic or mobile setting. Be sure to use the same margins and word fonts consistently throughout your project. Use the white spaces between margins to provide contrast and balance.  Underlining or bold print can be used to emphasize important points. However, you must use some restraint and limit the techniques you use so your audience isn’t overwhelmed.  If you use noisy backgrounds or a font that is too small, it may be difficult to read.  Keep your work consistent and detailed, and always stay on point (University of Phoenix, 2017).

     Another important step in business communication is proofreading. You should always read over your work several times before presenting it to your audience. First, wait at least a few hours before proofreading because you are more likely to find mistakes. Always make certain to use a spell check program, but be aware that this isn’t foolproof. If you use the wrong word, but spell it correctly, spellcheck may miss this. If you have any doubts about the spelling of a word, look it up in a dictionary. Also, make certain to check for run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and incorrect tenses ("Small Business Chron", 2016).

     In addition to looking for grammatical errors, also double check your facts for accuracy. If possible, have a co-worker look your presentation over. A second pair of eyes may catch a mistake or an inconsistency that you missed. If this isn’t possible, see if you can find a text-to-speech program. This type of software will read your work back to you. It’s much easier to catch mistakes when you hear them. If you don’t have access to the software, try reading your work out loud to make certain it flows well.

     At times, you may find you need to adapt your presentation to suit your audience. The first step is understanding their needs and expectations. You should consider their demographics, language, and experience. If you see that you’re losing their attention, there are a few things to consider. Make certain you’re using a conversational tone that is both professional and friendly. Choose your words carefully, using plain language, but powerful words. Also, consider your setting, and choose a pleasant environment. While it is necessary to keep your audience engaged, remember the importance of business ethics. Never exaggerate facts just to make your presentation more exciting. The key to a good presentation is to inform, persuade, or initiate a conversation, so keep these goals in mind.  Basically, you must try to see things from their point of view, and prepare your presentation in a way that will appeal to your audience (University of Phoenix, 2017).

     If you’re working with a team, interpersonal communication is imperative. Each team member should clearly communicate their goals and objectives for the project, and take the time to understand the perspectives of each person involved. Everyone has their own opinions, and sometimes compromises must be made.  It’s also important that each team member learn to develop their listening skills.  Everyone on the team has a unique voice and essential skills to offer to the group. Listen to what each team member has to say. Even when there are disagreements, try to keep an open mind and never reply with anger or criticism.

     In closing, communicating in the workplace is a crucial part of any career. By taking the time to consider the needs of your audience and work closely with your team mates, you are sure to succeed in all your endeavors.

eLearning Industry. (2013). Retrieved from
University of Phoenix, (2017). Business Communication Essentials. Phoenix, AZ: University of Phoenix.

Small Business Chron. (2016). Retrieved from


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