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Diagnostic Tools for Analyzing Communication Skills

Question:

Discuss about the Effective Business Communications.

The five diagnosis tools I have considered to analyse my communication style are self-perceived communication competence questionnaire, personal report of communication apprehension, personal report of public speaking anxiety, willingness to listen to diagnosis and tolerance for disagreement. I have reflected on and judged my communication skills in areas of verbal communication, listening actively, non-verbal communication and asserting my perceptions.

Analysis of the five communication diagnostic tools:

An analysis of my communication skills based on the first tool, self-perceived communication competence questionnaire shows that I am comfortable speaking to people individually but uncomfortable during speaking to a group of listeners. Batrinca et al.(2013) state that appropriate communication skills are very important speaking to an audience. The They further state that successful communication with the public while giving presentations depend on a variety of factors like the behaviour of speakers, tone of voice, vocal variety and facial expressions of the speakers. These behavioural attributes of the speaker play important role in communicating the message in appropriate ways to the listeners. Cahn and Abigail (2014) further state accurate communication of messages in work places play a very important role smooth operations. Proper gestures by managers to their subordinates play a significant role in enhancing the motivation of the employees. This analysis shows that the rate of my anxiety increases while speaking to a group of people. This shows that I lack communication skills and confidence while speaking to a group while giving presentation.

An analysis of personal report of communication apprehension, the second analytical tool shows that I exhibit uneasiness and lack of confidence while speaking to an audience. Here I can point out that the apprehensive approach of mine while public speaking actually shows my fear of disagreement from the audience.  Beattie et al.(2014), state that speakers should work to improve their communication skills. The employees aiming to become managers should have excellent communication skills because it is among one the most important managerial competencies. The human resource departments often train the employees to enhance their communication skills. Moore (2014) further states that managers should have the competency to deal with conflict among employees and manage them efficiently. They require mediating between the management and the employees in order to ensure continuity of the production. This analysis shows that I require strengthening my confident while speaking to an audience. Thus, appropriate communication would help in forming strategies on future business operations.

Analysis of Self-Perceived Communication Competence


An analysis of the third tool shows that I experience moderate level of anxiety and stress when giving presentation in the law firm where I worked. Tootell et al. (2013), state that effective gestural communication enables in creating appropriate impact on the audience. Appropriate body language exhibits confidence of the speakers. This confidence often creates strong impacts on the speakers, which lessens the chances of contradictions and questions from their sides. Caldas, Broaddus and Winch (2016) state that confidence exhibited by a speaker helps in handling contradictions from the audience. I can reflect that I require improving my communication skills and conflict level in order to handle contradictions from the audience.

 An analysis of the fourth tool illustrates that I have average willingness to listen to the audience I am speaking to. I can analyse that during I am good at verbally communicating with my audience especially in while interacting individually. However, I need to improve my gestural communication and understanding of the facial expressions and body languages of the audience while listening to my speech.  I can point out that while reflecting on my readiness to listen to audience, I am an average listener. This again points out to the two weaknesses in my communication skills. I am not comfortable speaking to a group of audience and lack the skills to handle contradictions from the audience.

An analysis of tolerance of agreement the fourth tool, once again shows that I lack the skills to deal with situations where the audience does not agree with my views. I can also reflect on my communication skills and can point out that the fear of mine regarding facing contradictions from listeners often results in my execution official responsibilities in the law firm. I did the task without communicating with the manager by maintaining a submissive attitude to avoid criticisms from her.

The fifth diagnostic tool, tolerance to disagreement test shows that I am not immune to handling objections and criticism from the audience. The low score of mine on objection handling again points out to my fear of handling conflicts.

An analysis of all the tests combined shows that there two gaps in my communication skills. They are lack of confidence while speaking to a group of audience and the inability to handle contradictions from the audience, which in turn impedes confidence to speak to them. These weaknesses call for me to take initiatives to improve upon them and strengthen my communication skills.

Analysis of Personal Report of Communication Apprehension

Findings of the tools:

The first two tools namely, the questionnaire tool and the personal report of communication apprehension point out to the first communication issue I face while communicating in the workplace. It is lack of comfort while communicating to a group of audience. The third tool namely, personal report of public speaking anxiety point out to the second issue in communication. The second weakness in my communication is lack of confidence and fear of conflicting opinions from the side of the audience. These two fears often make me communicate less with seniors and seek their guidance, which influences my performance.

Two key issues in communication:

I have recognised two key issues in my communication, which prevent me from communicating effectively at the office. The first issue is the lack of comfort while talking to a group of audience and giving a speech or presentation. The second issue also stems from this lack of confidence while giving presentations. I am not efficient in handlings criticisms and contradictions from others. This lack of conflict management results in lack of communication while performing my official duties.

Two recent professional interactions:

The two recent professional interactions, which pointed out to my lack of communication skills are my inability to speak to my audience while giving a presentation and my lack of communication with a senior manager.

The first recent professional interaction of my which showed by communication gap was when I was giving a presentation before my senior managers and juniors who are mostly advocates. While giving the presentation some of my seniors counter questioned me and their body languages showed that they did not agree with my view. It made me feel nervous and anxious. The analysis of my behaviour showed that I suffer from communication apprehension, which is the first issue and pointed out that I require taking communication courses.

The second interaction showing my lack of confidence was when I my senior manager assigned me a work. My manager assigned me a work and I completed it without consulting him, which led to faulty solution. I analysed the action of mine and understood that I lack the confidence to approach the manager because I was not ready to face confrontations from this side, which is the second issue. I can point from this behaviour of mine that I am not ready to face conflicts and counter questions from my managers. This lack of communication led to faulty solution and my poor performance. This once again pointed out that I suffer from lack of confidence and require to prompt actions like counselling to deal with the problem.  

Analysis of Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety

Communication apprehension:

The theory of communication apprehension states that people feel fear due to lack of confidence while communicating with people.  The theory also states that the communication may happen in reality or may be an apprehended one. This apprehension depends on several factors like perceptions of the parties involved in the communication process, attributes of the listener like their educational qualification and professions and communication skills of the speaker.

Interpersonal communication theory:

The theory of interpersonal communication describe the term as an exchange of information between two or more people. The theory further states that there are various factors which come into play in interpersonal communication. They are personality, structure of knowledge, interpersonal skills, language, non-verbal or gestural communication skills, intellectual perceptions and cultural backgrounds of the parties involved. However, too many gestures, cultural differences, differences of backgrounds between the parties to the interpersonal communication and noise act as barriers to successful interpersonal communication.

Positive non-verbal communication:

Non-verbal communication plays a very crucial function in successful communication process. Metallinou, Katsamanis and Narayanan (2013) state that body language is the process of communicating by using gestures with others. Positive body language gives rise to interests, optimistic and positive feedback from the listeners. Alleva et al. (2014) add to the contribution of Metallinou, Katsamanis and Narayanan. They state that since more than half of the communication takes place using non-verbal communication or body language, appropriate body language is considered very important. There are certain body languages, which are considered positive in non-verbal communication while others are considered negative. Metallinou, Katsamanis & Narayanan (2013) delve further into the aspects of positive nonverbal communication and state that non-verbal communication is characterised by exchange of multimodal information like expressions of the face and body language. They further state that these non-verbal reveal the influence of the speaker on the listeners. Shishavan (2016) however contradicts that non-verbal communication is ambiguous and often fail to communicate the right message. It can be pointed out that this ambiguity in non-verbal communication often reduces the effectiveness of meetings and conferences t the workplaces. This affects the decision-making activities and execution of plans. Thus, it can be inferred that positive non-verbal communication play very important role in communication of messages accurately among the parties involved. However, non verbal communication is not very dependable while taking business decisions because it lacks clarity.

Importance of communication in companies:

According to Sinuff et al.(2015), communication plays extremely crucial roles in the business organisations. Communication comes into play while decision-making, execution of orders, making business strategies and conflict management. Hollensen (2015) further adds to it and states that marketing is also a type of communication between the companies and the customers. Hence the concept can be studied under two broad heads namely, internal communication and external communication.

Analysis of Willingness to Listen and Tolerance for Disagreement

Internal communication and decision-making:

Mishra, Boynton and Mishra (2014), state that internal channels of communication play very crucial roles in day-to-day operations within organisations. The apex management acquires information about the business environmental factors like market conditions and customer preferences from the departments like marketing and customer services. They then use the internal knowledge management system within the organisations to gain important internal information like available financial resources and human resources from the accounts and HR departments respectively. They then integrate all the information to make central business strategies, which they communicate, to the middle level managers and departmental heads. Men (2014) further stresses on this role of communication in decision-making and states that smooth flow of information between the apex management and different level of employees encourage leadership in the organisations. The apex management bodies are able to lead the organisations towards greater degree of business excellence and higher market position.

Leadership and motivation:

Bolman and Deal (2017) point out that smooth flow of communication between superiors and subordinates is crucial to encourage leadership and motivation in the organisations. Transparent communication between the departmental heads and their juniors create a positive organisational culture within the organisations. This positive organisational culture creates the environment of understanding and coordination between the departmental heads, their subordinates and even between the departments. Lumbasi, K’Aol and Ouma (2016) state this healthy internal communication encourages the subordinates to participate in the strategy making activities, which leads to their better understanding of the strategies. One can point out that these transparent understanding results in better execution of plans and achievement of higher degree of efficiency. Kessler et al (2013) point out that transparent communication and thorough understanding of the responsibilities among the employees results in minimum conflict, which in turn boosts productivity. This in turn allows the departmental heads to lead their departments towards over achievement of the performance parameters. This analysis shows that internal communication enables the apex management to form strategies. It helps them to communicate those strategies to the middle level managers. Communication enables the subordinate employees to participate in decision making and execution of plans. It minimises conflict and boosts productivity. Thus, it can be inferred that communication enables motivation and leadership in the organisations.

External communication:

Fernández-Cavia et al.(2017) state that external communication helps the companies to communicate with the market and the stakeholders like customers, government and the society at large. The companies market their products to the customers and communicate their positive attributes and benefits. This marketing creates demand among the customers, which ultimately results in sale of the products to them. Bae (2015) state this sale of products lead to generation of revenue for the companies. Thus, it can be stated that external communication forms the base of revenue generation of the companies, which is their ultimate aim. LUO and HE (2015) state that companies communicate their financial information with the market to attract investors. The multinational companies have large number of shareholders who invest in their shares and account for their financial strength. Thus, external communication helps companies to market products and generates profits. Again, it helps them to attract investors, which accounts for their financial strengths. External communication is not only instrumental in generation of capital and profits from the market but in communication with the stakeholders. Inauen Schoeneborn (2014) point out that companies require to maintain continuous communication with stakeholders like governments, financial institutions and the society as a whole. This smooth external communication helps companies to take advantage of their external market opportunities and thrive in the market.  This analysis shows that external communication is integral to the business operations and competitive advantage in the market.

Combined Analysis of All Diagnostic Tools

The above analysis shows that I have to improve two areas of my communication capability at office, namely my confidence to address a group of audience and communication apprehension. The need of the hour is to improve my communication skills, behaviour and knowledge by taking professional courses.  I would take short online courses like Advanced Communication-Online from reputed institutes like Australian Institute of Management.  These institutes provide grooming courses like Applied Project Management, Business Networking and Effective communication. These professional courses are available online and their tenure is six months (aim.com.au, 2017).

The second action plan of mine would be a reading plan to read books, articles and journals to improve my communication skills and work on my communication apprehension. I would read books like ‘Transformational leadership and project success: The mediating role of team-building’ written by Aga, Noorderhaven and Vallejo.  Another book I would read is ‘Understanding and developing emotional intelligence. In Knowledge Solutions’ by Serrat. These readings would help to boost my confidence while speaking in public and deal with counter questions from audience. I can also read several self-help books which can I can purchase online. They would help in delivering more convincing and accurate presentations (amazon.com, 2017). This reading plan would last for a year, as I have to go through several books.

The third communication plan would be maintaining a personal journal to record my actions to improve communication skills. I would practice writing essays on communication related topics to improve my writing skills.


The fourth step would be identifying a member and taking a course from him. I can take a course from communication experts like Millswilsons. These professional mentors provide communication services to people who lack confidence. They arrange for seminars and conferences where people can speak to them about improving their communication skills (millswilson.com.au, 2017). These mentoring courses would take six months.

The above action plan shows there are four actions I can take to improve my communication skills. They are a six months diploma online course in communication, a reading plan stretching over a year, the third action would be practice interactive writing for six months and the fourth would be mentoring which again take a year. This action plan would help me t develop and strengthen my communication skills. The above action course can be presented on a Gantt chart, which is as follows:

Actions

6 months

1 year

More than a year

Diploma courses

Reading plans

Interactive writing

Mentoring

Figure 1. Gantt showing communication improvement plan

Key Issues in Communication Skills

(Source: Author)

Conclusion:

The above discussions show that strong communication skills are crucial from transmission of proper messages in the organisations. The speakers require achieving high level of confidence and conflict management skills. I can also conclude upon reflecting on the importance of communication in workplaces that communication is the basis of operations and coordination among the professional teams. It plays crucial role in exchange of information both within and outside the organisation

References:

Advanced Communication - Online. (2017). AIM Education & Training. Retrieved 6 October 2017, from https://www.aim.com.au/courses/advanced-communication-online

Aga, D. A., Noorderhaven, N., & Vallejo, B. (2016). Transformational leadership and project success: The mediating role of team-building. International Journal of Project Management, 34(5), 806-818.

Alleva, J. M., Martijn, C., Jansen, A., & Nederkoorn, C. (2014). Body language: Affecting body satisfaction by describing the body in functionality terms. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38(2), 181-196.

Amazon.com: communicating for a change. (2017). Amazon.com. Retrieved 6 October 2017, from https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_9/136-0583890-9571432?url=bbn%3D230659011%26search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=communicating+for+a+change&sprefix=communica%2Caps%2C454&crid=3EP3Y73NMQ66B

Bae, W. (2015). Interview with Tina Barnes-Budd, senior director of social media marketing and communication, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). International Journal of Sport Communication, 8(2), 149-154.

Batrinca, L., Stratou, G., Shapiro, A., Morency, L. P., & Scherer, S. (2013, August). Cicero-towards a multimodal virtual audience platform for public speaking training. In International Workshop on Intelligent Virtual Agents (pp. 116-128). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Beattie, R. S., Kim, S., Hagen, M. S., Egan, T. M., Ellinger, A. D., & Hamlin, R. G. (2014). Managerial coaching: A review of the empirical literature and development of a model to guide future practice. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 16(2), 184-201.

Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2017). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. John Wiley & Sons.

Cahn, D. D., & Abigail, R. A. (2014). Managing conflict through communication. Pearson.

Caldas, S. V., Broaddus, E. T., & Winch, P. J. (2016). Measuring conflict management, emotional self-efficacy, and problem solving confidence in an evaluation of outdoor programs for inner-city youth in Baltimore, Maryland. Evaluation and program planning, 57, 64-71.

Fernández-Cavia, J., Marchiori, E., Haven-Tang, C., & Cantoni, L. (2017). Online communication in Spanish destination marketing organizations: The view of practitioners. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 23(3), 264-273.

Hollensen, S. (2015). Marketing management: A relationship approach. Pearson Education.

Inauen, S., & Schoeneborn, D. (2014). Twitter and its usage for dialogic stakeholder communication by MNCs and NGOs. In Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility: Perspectives and Practice (pp. 283-310). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Kessler, S. R., Bruursema, K., Rodopman, B., & Spector, P. E. (2013). Leadership, interpersonal conflict, and counterproductive work behavior: An examination of the stressor–strain process. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 6(3), 180-190.

Lumbasi, G. W., K’Aol, G. O., & Ouma, C. A. (2016). The Effect of Participative Leadership Style on the Performance of COYA Senior Managers in Kenya.

LUO, Q., & HE, J. (2015). Stock Market Mispricing and the Decisions of Investment and Financing by the Controlling Shareholder.

Men, L. R. (2014). Strategic internal communication: Transformational leadership, communication channels, and employee satisfaction. Management Communication Quarterly, 28(2), 264-284.

Metallinou, A., Katsamanis, A., & Narayanan, S. (2013). Tracking continuous emotional trends of participants during affective dyadic interactions using body language and speech information. Image and Vision Computing, 31(2), 137-152.

Metallinou, A., Katsamanis, A., & Narayanan, S. (2013). Tracking continuous emotional trends of participants during affective dyadic interactions using body language and speech information. Image and Vision Computing, 31(2), 137-152.

Mishra, K., Boynton, L., & Mishra, A. (2014). Driving employee engagement: The expanded role of internal communications. International Journal of Business Communication, 51(2), 183-202.

Moore, C.W., 2014. The mediation process: Practical strategies for resolving conflict. John Wiley & Sons.

Serrat, O., 2017. Understanding and developing emotional intelligence. In Knowledge Solutions (pp. 329-339). Springer Singapore.

Shishavan, H. B. (2016). Refusals of invitations and offers in Persian: Genuine or ostensible. Journal of Politeness Research, 12(1), 55-93.

Sinuff, T., Dodek, P., You, J.J., Barwich, D., Tayler, C., Downar, J., Hartwick, M., Frank, C., Stelfox, H.T. and Heyland, D.K., 2015. Improving end-of-life communication and decision making: the development of a conceptual framework and quality indicators. Journal of pain and symptom management, 49(6), pp.1070-1080.

Tootell, H., Plumb, M., Hadfield, C., & Dawson, L. (2013, January). Gestural interface technology in early childhood education: a framework for fully engaged communication. In System Sciences (HICSS), 2013 46th Hawaii International Conference on (pp. 13-20). IEEE.

Work. (2017). MILLS WILSON. Retrieved 6 October 2017, from https://www.millswilson.com.au/#/xiv/

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