Skip main navigation

Communication, Communication! What’s the Big Deal?

Discover the power of the spoken and written word to drive organisational goals. In this article, discover what communication entails.
Woman leader listening to her staff.
© Standard Abobe Stock Images

For as long as there have been individuals managing others, there has been a need for effective communication. The way in which a manager interacts with his team, and indeed with all stakeholders, is a vital element of business management. When you interview for a job, communication skills are often the first set of skills that are assessed and are often considered the most important characteristic of a desirable employee. Likewise, being able to communicate effectively with others – especially your own team – greatly impacts on your success and work satisfaction.

The current business world has evolved in a way which puts even greater emphasis on communication and managerial communication. Workplaces are becoming more diverse, businesses are becoming digitized, and workplaces are restructuring to allow for flexible working conditions and flexible teams. All of these changes are accelerating and substantiating the need for more effective communication practices.

Effective Listening

Barriers to Listening

The Listening/Speaking Differential refers to our speech’s actual physical capacity versus the thinking capacity we possess in our minds. We can speak at a rate that is only 25% as fast as we think. Therefore, when we listen to someone, our mind is invariably processing or attending to other aspects of thought. Motivation refers to an individual’s motivations for listening to others. Given the capacity for excess thought highlighted above, an individual may be motivated to think about various other topics important to themselves instead of listening to the speaker. Willingness is closely related to motivation in that it refers to the general desire to hear and digest what someone else is saying. However, willingness forms before the speaker engage, and the listener may decide before they even begin that they are not interested in what they are about to hear.

Managerial Listening Benefits

Effective managerial listening can lead to a variety of positive workplace outcomes, including:

  • Managers are more likely to obtain the data and information necessary for managerial decisions by listening to employees.
  • Effective listening may make managers more dependable. Good listeners are typically more likely to understand and follow directions than those with poor listening skills.
  • Peers typically more respect good listeners.
  • Good listening enables people to be generally better-informed overall about general aspects of the organisation. This can lead to positive perceptions by others and general confidence in the individual.
  • Good listening can, quite simply, help avoid time-consuming mistakes and mismanagement.

General Listening Techniques

Improving one’s listening skills first requires an understanding of different levels of intensity with which we listen. Situations often call for different attention and listening levels, and it is important to note such differences and adjust one’s listening appropriately. There are three key levels of listening to understand:

  1. The Casual or marginal listening level is used when the information being conveyed is not critical. Perhaps in social conversations or when listening to the radio.
  2. Factual listening entails listening when specific factual information must be obtained. This may take place during business meetings, conferences or academic settings.
  3. Emphatic listening is the deepest listening level and entails trying to understand a person from their own personal frame of reference. This requires resisting most judgement and responses and simply probing to obtain a deep understanding of where the person is coming from.
© Ducere Global Business School
This article is from the free online

How to Become a Business Executive

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now