It’s therefore extremely important to look for solutions to problems with communication, which can affect people at every level of the business, from junior staff to senior directors.
A universal challenge
Senior company directors typically experience workplace anxiety ten times per month – twice the UK average – and communication is the leading source of this problem.
That’s according to a survey of 1,000 companies conducted by the commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), which provides communication skills training for corporate customers.
The findings showed that 94 per cent of directors feel anxious about communicating.
Nearly four out of ten (39 per cent) said networking with new business prospects and pitching are the situations where they feel most concerned about their performance.
Almost a third of directors (31 per cent) said they worried about their ideas being criticised or dismissed, while the same proportion admitted they had fears about people thinking less of them.
Lack of confidence in communication skills is also common among junior workers, 92 per cent of whom said this is a problem for them. Feeling pressure to make an impact – when moving into a more senior role or making a presentation, for example – was found to be the biggest source of anxiety for this group.
Claire Dale, tutor at RADA in Business, said companies looking to overcome these challenges should “focus first on the lowest and highest levels within their organisations”.
Making positive changes
Ms Dale offered a number of practical tips that could help people at various points in the business hierarchy to communicate more effectively.
She referred to the technique often used by actors of making “small but powerful shifts” in behaviour to boost their confidence and speaking ability.
“This could involve grounding themselves through changes in their body language and stance, improving their physical presence and gravitas, or controlling their breath to create greater vocal power,” the tutor explained.
Ms Dale also emphasised the importance of flexibility. Anyone giving a business presentation or speaking in front of a group should be able to adopt a different communication style to suit the audience and situation.
“This helps to build confidence in the given situation, increasing their impact and influence in the workplace,” she stated.
Another important element of good communication is clarity. The person speaking should start out with a clear definition of what they want to achieve and what message they want to get across. This provides the foundation for confident and effective communication.
Furthermore, it’s vital to remember that good communication is about listening as well as speaking. Contributions from listeners should be used as an opportunity to engage with the audience and to create a dialogue that is productive and beneficial for all parties.
Posted by Ben Garbett
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