Why the next 10 years of workplace communications will smash the last 10
Author: Carrie Wallis 29 Aug 2015
Communicating in the workplace can be fraught with hidden dangers; that off-the-cuff remark you made about the Chairman to a colleague while at the coffee machine can come back to haunt you.
A sudden outburst of frustration at a meeting can get you labeled as uncooperative and hard to work with.
None of these will help you in your career, or worse they can get you dismissed. It can be immensely frustrating to find yourself in a situation at work where you feel you have been misunderstood; where you think you have been clear about what needs to be done yet your staff seems incapable of understanding you.
Let's face it, in today's climate you must be able to work in a team and get along with peers, customers, suppliers, managers, and staff. To get yourself labelled as a "poor communicator" can be the death knell for your career. You can kiss goodbye to any chance of promotion.
In the last 10 years, we have seen the development of smartphones, email in use in almost every home, remote working, video conferencing, and much more that has changed the way we communicate at work and this is set to continue at an even faster pace.
The University of Warwick's John Taylor in his Lowry lecture in 2013 stated that some of the key influences on relations and communications in the workplace are:
The first issue is of course the economy with the impact of boom, bust, and austerity. The first seven years of my tenure saw almost unparalleled wealth creation in Great Britain whereas the last five have seen the worst recession since the 1930s. Austerity can be the enemy of ambition and the lowest common denominator in policy creation;
The continued growth in individualismwith a demand for choice, transparency, local-ism and ever-demanding service levels from consumers and the public in general;
The slow death of deference for authority, institutions, traditions, and even management structure and procedures;
Globalization and the growing economic power of the BRIC nations;
The fifth is the gradual growing apart of Government, media, and public opinion in the public sector as first the consensus around the welfare state dissipated since the 1980s and latterly with the discrediting of the “Market Rules, OK”;
Probably the most lasting in its impact is technology and the unfolding power of social media.
Over the next ten years, workplace communications are likely to become more complex not less. As the medium through which we communicate changes so our skills need to change to keep pace.
There is likely to be a greater occurrence of people working from home. This has inherent dangers for workplace communications.
Working from home can isolate people, sitting all day working at your keyboard can seriously damage your ability to connect with people. Just think how you fared during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
It is conceivable that the only communication people will have with their colleagues is a few phone calls during the day, perhaps a video conference or two, and a trip into the office once a fortnight.
Consider how most people hear about what is going on at work?
- It is the conversation in the lift on way to and from work;
- it is the chance meeting with a colleague in the restroom;
- it is the overheard conversation as you pass the photocopier, water cooler, or stand in the kitchen making a coffee.
All these sources of information and connection go when people are no longer office-based.
Not only will we lose our human connections but, according to Peter Diamondis in May 2015 there will be an ever-increasing rate of change.
We lose our primary source of connection and yet there will be more information than ever to keep up to date with.
According to Peter, there will be a trillion sensors gathering data everywhere (autonomous cars, satellite systems, drones, wearables, cameras), you'll be able to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights.
Facebook (Internet.org), SpaceX, Google (Project Loon), Qualcomm, and Virgin (OneWeb) are planning to provide global connectivity to every human on Earth at speeds exceeding one megabit per second.
So not only will far more information be available than ever before, we will be able to access it faster than ever and our means of communicating with our fellow humans will change.
So what can we do to prepare ourselves?
The first step is to make sure we can communicate effectively right now. We must learn how to say what we want to say, not be misunderstood, in concise phrases, and be comfortable with the technology available to us.
Don't wait, start right now. For if we are unable to feel heard now imagine how much worse this will be in a world where we have less contact and less time to say what needs to be said?
So how can you improve?
How can you communicate in a way that your message is heard?
Learn assertive communication techniques and strategies.