- Slides: 49
COMMUNICATING IN THE WORKPLACE ITICOR 0041 A
ELEMENT 1 ESTABLISH CONTACT WITH CLIENTS
LEARNING OUTCOMES 1. Receive requests and inquiries from clients in a polite and courteous manner. 2. Create an effective service environment through verbal and non-verbal communication. 3. Use questioning and active listening techniques to determine client support needs.
INTRODUCTION TO COMMUNICATION • Communication - is the two-way process of sending and receiving messages (instructions, information, ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc. ) between two or more persons to create a common understanding. COMMUNICATION DOES NOT ALL REQUIRE THE USE OF WORDS.
Key Terms in defining communication Communication is: • A Process – this means it is an ongoing activity, a series of actions that has neither beginning nor end. • An exchange /interaction between two or more persons. • Goal-oriented – the goal is to create a common understanding.
Communication uses a number of different channels including: • • • Face-to-face E-mail Telephone Radio Television Within these channels communication can be verbal and non-verbal.
What is meant by communicating effectively? An effective communicator: • • • Better understands his/her work environment Works harmoniously with others Works effectively and efficiently Avoids accidents Avoids making mistakes Improves his/her productivity
People communicate for various reasons: • To make contact with others. • To exchange information. • To influence others. • To resolve problems.
In a work environment who do we communicate with? • Internal and External Customers. • External Customers are persons outside of your organization who are the end-users of your product. • Internal customers on the other hand, are the people in your organization who need to use your services in the process of meeting the needs of the external customer.
You may not always realize how many people you come into contact with in the workplace. The table below lists some of the persons with whom you may interact as you carry out your routine job functions. Internal clients Fellow workers Supervisors Managers Trainees Janitorial staff Part-time staff Casual staff External clients Customers Suppliers Designers Service Providers Contractors Consultants Sales representatives
The Communication Process • The communication process takes place in various situations for different reasons and has the potential for many different interpretations. It has several components. These are: • A sender or communicator (the person giving the message) • A receiver or audience (the person/s who is getting the message) • Message (the information being sent, content. This can be written or spoken) • Channel/Medium the way the message is sent e. g. fax, telephone, or conversations, e-mail, letters, etc. • Feedback tells how well the message was received and consists of (verbal and non-verbal cues from the receiver to show he/she has understood the message) • Noise/Interference - the barriers or things that can stop the message being understood.
Diagrammatically, the communication process can be represented as shown below:
Key Factors/Stages in Successful Communication • Conceiving the Message – what is the best means of getting your message across? For whom is the message intended? Ensure that your message suits the recipient(s) particular needs. • Encoding the message – decide in advance the medium (or media mix) that will give you the best results. Will it be the telephone, letter, or e-mail, memo, in person? Choose wisely. • Selecting the communication channel – make an intelligent decision regarding the channel selection before sending your message. Consider such elements as speed, confidentiality, simultaneous delivery of message, cost, accuracy, feedback needs, complexity of message, etc.
Key Factors/Stages in Successful Communication (cont’d) • Decoding the message – all incoming messages must be given priority treatment, routed promptly and time must be devoted to understanding their meaning. You must ensure that you do not act as a block to the message as a result of hostile feelings towards its sender, or from malicious rivalry, etc. • Interpreting the message – Spend sufficient time on the incoming message to ensure that you interpret it correctly. • Feedback – Communication is incomplete without the element of feedback; unless the sender is given prompt and unambiguous feedback the communication is likely to be frustrated. No matter how busy you may be, when you are the receiver of a message, you must ensure that you give immediate feedback. In person- to -person oral communication, this is not generally a problem; with written messages, you must exercise self-discipline and courtesy to ensure that you respond immediately to complaints, requests, orders, etc.
Breakdown in the Communication Process You will find that from time to time that your message was not received as you intended. When this happens the fault may lie in any one of several areas: • A breakdown at any one of the stages noted above • Routing disrupted by interference of some sort. • Context and background of communication may have been misread. • Conflict may have arisen as a result of a breakdown at any one of the stages noted above.
Communication Skills • Mastery of the following skills is the hallmark of an effective communicator; ensure that you spend the time required to develop these competencies. • • Speaking Listening Questioning Using and observing body language (non-verbal communication) • Writing • Reading
You will need all the skills listed previously to carry out the following communication tasks at work: • Communicating with external and internal clients (including team members, supervisors and management). • Handling enquiries related to routine client support needs. • Clarifying and recording information (does not involve technical problem solving). TIP! Good customer service relies on the good communication skills of employees.
ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS l l l What is communication? Give the difference between an external and internal customers. List the ways in which people communicate? What are the communication tasks you are likely to perform in your day to day activities? Give three reasons for miscommunication?
RECEIVE REQUESTS AND INQUIRIES FROM CLIENTS IN A POLITE AND COURTEOUS MANNER The nature of the industry in which you work is one that has continuous client interface. You will always be interacting with your colleagues and perhaps external clients. In other words, you are in an environment that is highly customer driven. This means you must be customer focused.
When a customer approaches you with a request or an enquiry, he/she comes with certain expectations and needs.
Client Expectations 1. Product & Service: • Right product • • • Right price At the right time With a positive and helpful manner from staff
Client Expectations (cont’d) 2. Treatment • Treat them as individuals • Treat them with respect and courtesy • Treat them intelligently • Listen to them • Understand them • Care about them
Client needs To be understood (communication skills are required) • To feel welcome (be warm and friendly) • To feel important. To be treated as someone special. (always refer to them by name) • To feel comfortable. (Smile, be warm and friendly, reassuring, if necessary)
• The way in which you greet your client sets the tone for the exchange and determines the way you will communicate with him/her in the future. • First impressions tend to be lasting and you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
Therefore you want to ensure that you: • Greet him/her with a smile • Make eye-contact • Be friendly
The effective communicator is always courteous and polite. S/he avoids: • Interrupting • Contradicting • Irritating, unpleasant or discourteous speech mannerisms, gestures or posture • Fiddling with a pencil, doodling or indulging in other distractions • ‘Showing off’ to impress others • Making someone look or feel ‘small’ • Being over assertive • Losing his/her temper • Being condescending • Showing boredom or impatience
Instead s/he • Listens because s/he understands that not listening to someone is discourteous Pays keen attention, considering the implications of what is being requested or said. Looks at the client and provides him/her with feedback to show understanding. • Speech is appropriate to the circumstances. He/she chooses his/her words and expressions carefully, because s/he considers that people have different personalities and backgrounds; that it is easy to offend and difficult to overcome its effect. • Body language matches spoken word TIP! The polite and courteous handling of your clients promotes a positive image of the organization and its employees.
Organizational policies and standards One of the first things you should do when you join an organization is to become very familiar with your responsibilities and job functions. Make sure that you understand clearly the company’s policies and procedures that relate to things such as: • • • Answering client support enquiries Answering the telephone Writing messages Handling on-line enquiries The company’s code of conduct Service standards
Get into groups and act out the following scenario: You are working at the Help Desk at Cyberspace Solutions during a time when new computers are being introduced. One of the supervisors has difficulty using his computer. • On Friday morning the help desk phone rings. • You recognize your supervisor’s voice. He doesn’t greet you nor identify himself; all you hear is: ‘my printer isn’t working. It didn’t work yesterday, or the day before that. I have a conference to prepare for and I want fixed now!! handle this situation in a polite and courteous manner.
CREATE AN EFFECTIVE SERVICE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
The key to creating an effective service environment is to use communication skills to maintain a customer friendly atmosphere. This will not be possible if you confuse ‘service’ with ‘servitude’.
Service - Assistance or benefit given to another. Servitude - Slavery; subjection; bondage. n n n As you can see from the definitions above, there is no meeting ground between the two terms. Hence every aspect of your communication must send the message, “I am here to help you” and “It is my pleasure to assist you. ” Effective communication generally involves both verbal and non-verbal messages.
VERBAL COMMUNICATION Verbal communication is the use of words in a written or spoken form.
Written Forms Written communication is one of the most reliable channels of communication and is a very important part of a business communication process. Written communication in an office may include: • Handwritten and printed materials (brochures, flyers, posters) • Electronic mail (e-mail) • Internal memos • Facsimiles (An exact copy or fake of an original. ) • General correspondence • Telephone messages • Documented information
Effective Written Communication There are 5 ‘C’s of effective communication: • Clear: Write clearly so that the person reading it will not be confused and the meaning is unambiguous. Use short paragraphs, short sentences and simple language. • Concise: Use as few words as possible to convey your thoughts. Avoid repetition and omit unnecessary information. • Correct: Make sure you follow the rules and styles for business writing and that the structure and format for meeting the organization’s standards. • Courteous: This is polite and respectful writing. Write a letter to a customer in a business like yet friendly and courteous manner. • Complete: Make sure that all the relevant information is included in the correspondence and that no details are left out.
Additional Guidelines • Respond to all correspondence in a timely manner. • Be sure to observe the rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling TIP! Check the style and format of all written correspondence. Both the hard copy and the soft copy should be proofread and corrections made to spelling, grammar, style and format before the document is dispatched. n
ACTIVITY: n n n Your supervisor has asked you to handle an electronic request for 2 printers to be installed in one of your regional offices immediately. However, you will not be able to fulfill that request for another ten days when a new shipment arrives. Respond to the writer of the request by e-mail.
Oral Communication This is the simplest form of communication. However, it is not successful or effective unless the sender and the receiver of the message understand the information in the same way. Good oral communication skills are critical because many workplace activities require you to speak. These include: • Client/colleague reception • Telephone conversations • Taking part in meetings • Handling inquiries • Handling client support needs • Clarifying information • Making presentations
Ø Oral communication has two basic components‘what’ and ‘how’. Ø ‘What’ relates to content, the skill in organizing thoughts and ideas in a structured and sequenced order that listeners can easily follow and absorb. Ø ‘How’ relates to the tone of the message, the way you use your voice – intonation, expression and emphasis –to promote its successful delivery. Thus, successful oral communication is a happy blend of organization and delivery skills.
Ø The first rule of speaking is to think about what you are going to say before you say it. Consider the following: Ø • What you want to say Ø • How you want to say it Ø • Whether the message is getting through Ask yourself, is the message acceptable?
Think first!! Ø Prepare what you want to say. Ø If you don’t, you may have to start again and the client will lose confidence in you. Ø Avoid using slang – it is unprofessional and will annoy some clients
How must you say it? DO DON’T Speak clearly. (Some clients may have difficulty in hearing you. Your mouth should be free of chewing gum and other food). Let your sentences trail off. (It gives the impression that you are uncertain). Keep the volume moderate Use a sharp tone. (You could sound aggressive). Put expression in your voice and watch your rate of speech. Do not sound monotonous or singsong nor speak too fast. (Customer may not be able to follow you). Speak too slowly. You could sound patronizing
ACTIVITY: Ø READ PAGE 17 OF YOUR LEARNER GUIDE
Non-verbal Communication n Everything you do carries a non-verbal message. n For example, a well-typed letter on good quality paper with an attractive letterhead will carry a non-verbal message that this organization is efficient and takes pride in its work. n On the other hand, a few words hastily scribbled on cheap and tattered paper with dirty fingerprints on it will carry quite a different message.
n The importance of non-verbal communication is increasingly being recognized. Estimates vary, but it is generally understood that only: n 7 per cent of any message is conveyed by words. n 38 per cent of any message is conveyed by vocal non-verbal communication (e. g. tone, volume, speed). n 55 per cent of messages are interpreted by face and body non-verbal communication.
Non-verbal communication may be classified as: n Body language – communicating with parts of your body. n Voice - the quality, volume, pitch, tone, etc. of the voice hint at your emotions and will indicate things about you that are not expressed in the words. n Space – how near or far you stand away from others (distance) conveys a message. This varies from “intimate distances” with close friends or family to “social distances” with strangers. n Physical characteristics and appearance - a person’s build, hairstyle, clothes and general appearance send very strong messages. n Posture – indicates your feelings or attitudes at the time. Posture can be open or closed (defensive). n Symbols, signs, visual displays and signals
Non-verbal communication has several functions. It may: n Support or reinforce verbal messages – this clarifies the sender’s intention. n Contradict/invalidate verbal messages – when the non-verbal cues send a different message from the words then the receiver tends not to trust what is being said. n Replace, or substitute for, verbal messages – using non-verbal messages may be more appropriate in some settings/environment as it may be impossible to send a verbal one. n Regulate verbal messages – non-verbal cues can temper or change the content of verbal messages. For example, a confused look on the face of the receiver may cause the sender to rephrase or repeat the message. n Change the flow of the verbal messages – a speaker, in responding to a non-verbal cue, may decide to talk faster or slower.
Generally, communication is most effective when the non-verbal cues support/reinforce the spoken word. n Despite their power to communicate, however, non-verbal cues can be misinterpreted, particularly since they are culturally biased. n The following slide provides a list of the non-verbal communication common in the work environment and their usual associated meanings in western societies.
NON-VERBAL CUE ASSOCIATED MEANING Gestures Finger wagging Disagreement Open palms with fingers pointing up, palms out and hands moving forward. Emphasis; Very important information. Baton-like pointing movements of the arms and hands. Punctuate words; Control. Hand or finger covering the mouth. Embarrassment; Reluctance to speak.