Workplace communication is a critical component of professional interaction among colleagues as its effectiveness directly impacts a variety of performance indicators. In nursing practice, effective communication affects a wide range of competency and healthcare outcomes. Oral communication among staff helps to eliminate misunderstandings and mitigate conflict. Productive communication enables the exchange of information and experience that creates a positive workplace environment.
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Intercultural interaction is central to professional growth and cooperation, both amongst staff and communication with patients as the healthcare environment becomes more inclusive of minorities. Finally, introducing innovative methods of communication can be vital to improving teamwork, creating organizational change, and influencing the success of workplace interventions. Effective communication presents an opportunity to interact with team members and the management productively reduces the time required to assist patients and enhances the professionalism of the staff through the exchange of experience.
Evidence from Academic Literature
Oral communication is the primary method of interaction in most workplaces and organizations, thus, making it central to effective communication. As Brink and Costigan (2015) note that oral communication “among the most important competencies for success in the workplace” (p.218). That is due to the close and personal interaction among colleagues is inevitable, resulting in cohesiveness and better understanding. Oral communication consists of three distinct skills of presenting, listening, and conversing.
Listening (the act of receiving a message aurally) is often considered the most crucial aspect as it serves as the middle balance between presentation (sending the message vocally) and conversation (responding). Listening requires active participation by demonstrating full attention and portraying adequate reactions (Brink & Costigan, 2015). Oral communication amongst staff and team members is often used for informal communication that allows for the exchange of information and experience. This aids in the formation of workplace relationships, as well as lead to improved performance results as more experienced employees, can provide mentorship to new hires in ways that structured training and organizational guidelines would be unable to do.
Internal and productive communication often occurs among staff, leading to interactions among employees that improve camaraderie and more active engagement. Karanges, Johnson, and Lings (2015) argue that this type of informal communication can significantly benefit the employee base by creating a sense of community and creating a positive state of mind. This type of communication contributes to increased productivity, better organization image, and decreased attrition.
Development of effective internal communication is vital since it dominates the professional life of most everyone as employees interact in teams, with their supervisor, and the organization as a whole. With competent internal communication, the staff will feel that they are presented adequate amounts of information regarding the tasks at hand or job opportunities, thus leading to increased satisfaction and professionalism. Therefore, internal supervisor communication and workplace relationships directly impact the development of optimal employee engagement (Karanges et al., 2015).
In a globalized world, employees in any given organization or sector encounter the challenge of intercultural communication as multicultural and multiethnic teams collaborate on various projects. In healthcare, in particular, nurses are constantly interacting with patients and other professionals from different cultures, greatly requiring the skill of cultural competency and subsequent communication abilities.
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Martin and Nakayama (2015) discuss the importance and virtue of intercultural interaction in an organization. It is a principle of labor organization and communication that offers compliance with modern standards of the work process. Furthermore, skills in intercultural communication allow to prevent unacceptable behavior in the forms of racism or prejudices. Instead, it fosters respect for ethnic and cultural identity which allows for improved cooperation (Martin & Nakayama, 2015). This is vital in the modern society as organizations with multicultural teams have empirically been proven to be more effective, innovative, and successful.
Communication in the modern world takes places as much online as it does offline, with organizations investing significant resources to develop virtual communication technologies. This interaction leads to networking ties, leading to interesting relationships to form among employees. Zhang and Venkatesh (2013) outline that online and offline communication patterns are both distinct, but at the same time, intertwined. Employees group together and form relationships on the basis of both, professional and personal interests. These ties formed in the communication networks serve as complementary resources that interact to improve job performance.
While offline communication offers some benefits of direct interaction and professional cooperation, the online realm allows to expand these networks online since virtual communication is unbounded by temporal and spatial barriers. Therefore, online communication is beneficial for its speed and efficiency, but it serves as a complement to the offline interaction necessary for the exchange and understanding of complex knowledge (Zhang & Venkatesh, 2015). The application of communication techniques in innovative technology has a myriad of positive outcomes if competently applied in the workplace to improve team communications and job performance.
Application to Professional Practice
Applying the communication skills and methods outlined above for nurses in the workplace can significantly benefit the professional experience and lead to an improved exchange of information and experience regarding provided care, which in turn, leads to better patient outcomes. Communication becomes vital to the establishment of teamwork, as team members are expected to contribute their knowledge for the effectiveness of the team.
The effect of communication skills and cognitive processes in the endeavor should be recognized as the dynamic aspects of human cognition allow to perceive, interpret and make decisions. In health care practice, teams are also dynamic, with very few being fixed with pre-established roles. Therefore, on the go communication is vital for successful outcomes since any breakdown in communication will lead to errors. While many strategies for improvement of communication in healthcare teams are based on organizational structures, it is imperative to develop certain approaches on a more personal and professional level to enhance professional interaction (Gluyas, 2015).
Communication methods are extensive and medical staff can significantly benefit by combining them in practice, for instance by incorporating both online interaction tools and informal oral communication. Effective communication is paramount to both, interaction with patients and with other staff members, requiring the cultivation of this skill from early days of nursing education.
However, the rapidly changing realities of the modern world are introducing new technology as well as evidence-based changes to protocols that inherently affect communication. Electronic devices and the use of text messaging and emails are becoming more commonplace to complement oral communication. Therefore, through a blend of communication tools and methods, positive outcomes are seen by improving personal competency, allowing recordkeeping, improved organization, and administration of tasks.
Furthermore, it helps with more efficient management of data and staff cooperation as online tools can notify numerous individuals in various areas of the hospital (Koivunen, Niemi, & Hupli, 2014). Overall, the various communication skills are extremely beneficial in the blended exchanges of modern healthcare as they can be applied both in-person and virtually.
Healthcare organizations and nursing managers can use communication techniques to accomplish a number of tasks. First, effective communication inherently increases performance indicators of staff, leading to better patient care and efficiency in healthcare delivery. Next, methods of communication and interaction may be used to create improved communication between managers and hospital administration with their subordinate staff and nurses.
This would allow for open communication channels that would offer a contribution to improving the workplace and personal satisfaction by addressing any crucial issues. Finally, effective communication can be vital to coordinating of staff in joint activities, organizational change, and large-scale interventions, all of which require significant communication between the leadership and nursing staff to ensure optimal outcomes (Foronda, MacWilliams, & McArthur, 2016).
Strategies on an organizational level to improve communication include programs for team communication, improvement of organizational practices such as checklists, protocols, and the introduction of structured tools such as briefings and staff participation (Gluyas, 2015). Through an organization’s leadership and commitment of resources, healthcare communication can greatly improve on a widespread scale.
Effective communication is vital to the nursing profession as interaction among team members and management significantly improves patient outcomes, decreases the time necessary to assist patients, and enhances professionalism on various levels. To foster effective communication, there must be appropriate conditions created in the healthcare workplace which would support nursing collaboration and exchange of information and experience.
An intervention should be adopted in workplaces that focus on educating and changing workflows in a manner that would stimulate oral communication, encourage productive discussions, promote intercultural and interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovate methods of contact. There are significant benefits from the adoption of effective communication in a healthcare organization, justifying the relevance and cost of adopting such concepts into nursing practice.
Brink, K. E., & Costigan, R. D. (2015). Oral communication skills: Are the priorities of the workplace and AACSB-accredited business programs aligned? Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14(2), 205-221.
Foronda, C., MacWilliams, B., & McArthur, E. (2016). Interprofessional communication in healthcare: An integrative review. Nurse Education in Practice, 19, 36-40. Web.
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Gluyas, H. (2015). Effective communication and teamwork promotes patient safety. Nursing Standard, 29(49), 50-57.
Karanges, E., Johnston, K., Beatson, A., & Lings, I. (2015). The influence of internal communication on employee engagement: A pilot study. Public Relations Review, 41(1), 129-131.
Koivunen, M., Niemi, A., & Hupli, M. (2014). The use of electronic devices for communication with colleagues and other healthcare professionals – Nursing professionals’ perspectives. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(3), 620-631. Web.
Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2015). Reconsidering intercultural (communication) competence in the workplace: A dialectical approach. Language and Intercultural Communication, 15(1), 13-28.
Zhang, X., & Venkatesh, V. (2013). Explaining employee job performance: The role of online and offline workplace communication networks. MIS Quarterly, 37(3), 695-722.