Supportive communication is the most essential way of communication in moments of crisis. This is because it involves empathy, concern, respect and confidence in an individual’s abilities in order not hurt his or her self-esteem. It is important that anybody with the willingness to help should apply all the available instruments to help victims in crisis. This is because; you will probably encounter persons at different levels of distress, people of different age groups, backgrounds and gender. In supportive communication therefore, it is important to anticipate this differences observed in different people and be creative and innovative enough to be able to help appropriately. To be an effective supportive communicator, an individual should be able to analyze and determine the most reliable communication style, concentrate on having a constructive communication and be able to know when to refer persons to other professionals (Denhardt, Vickie & Aristigueta 2003).
Some of the attributes that have been proved to support effective communication are; respect, genuineness, positive regard, being non-judgmental, ability to empower, being practical, confidentiality and high standards of ethics. The necessary skills required for effective supportive communication are non-verbal communication, listening and responding skills and finally giving feedback. Non-verbal communication involves sending a message through posture, facial expressions and non-verbal sounds. Listening and responding is not just all about paying attention but also being responsive and showing that you are actually following what this person is actually saying.
The value of you feedback determines the effectiveness of your communication and therefore it’s a crucial factor (Denhardt, Vickie & Aristigueta 2003).
Challenges of supportive communication
Supportive communication is an essential factor within an organization and at the same time it has its own challenges. One of the challenges that affect effective supportive communication is the diverse culture within an organization. Different people from different backgrounds possess different cultural believes and values and therefore this is an important factor to consider when determining mode and style of communication. Another challenge is the low self-esteem and confidence experienced by certain individuals within an organization. It is therefore important for one to have the relevant skills that will enable him/her to be able to acknowledge the victim’s abilities and practical information so as to address his problem with respect and empathy.
Another challenge is whereby the affected person withholds some information which he/she might consider embarrassing. This could be challenging because it might affect the quality of feedback necessary to assist this person, and this may therefore lead to this person not getting help at all if not just little help. Another challenge is poor communication skills that may be attributed to the person affected. According to Rivers (2008), people should adopt the continuous learning approach to living to be able to make better communication an important part of their everyday life.
Skills of active listening and giving feedback
Active listening is said to be an individuals desire to hear and fully apprehend what another person is saying. It involves, being completely attentive to the person you are communicating with, restraining from making unconstructive judgments, contributing and talking in a clear manner that keeps the other person at ease (Rivers 2006). Active listening skills enable leaders to be better listeners and with time enhance their leadership skills. It involves building rapport, understanding and trust. It is important to think of active listening as an “exchange between people” (Rivers 2006). There are a variety of active listening e.g. paying attention, holding judgment, reflecting, clarifying, summarizing, sharing, redirecting, validation, probing and emotional labeling (Bolton 2008).
Paying attention enables one to be able to set a comfortable environment and give time and chance to the person he is communicating with to think and speak. Reflecting what the speaker is saying in terms of feelings is necessary instead of just repeating whatever he or she is saying, so as to show the importance of his statement. Summarizing is also necessary for the purpose of collecting together the facts and pieces of a conversation together, for better understanding and effective feedback. In giving feedback, it is important to let your initial thoughts on the problem be known and share observations, insights, views and experiences (Bolton 2008).
Emotional labeling on its part involves translating feelings into words so as to help the person you are communicating with see things more objectively.
It is important to probe, so as to get required information and acknowledge the person’s problems to be able to make a validation. Redirecting or rather changing the topic when someone is getting angry and agitated is also necessary to keep the conversation going.
Organizations are supposed to play a role in helping their employees address personal problems that potentially interfere with there work performance. To ensure this, it is important for organizations to create guidance and counseling departments with qualified professionals having the necessary skills required in providing solutions to employees. This should not be done only in times of need, but frequently to enable this professional’s keep in touch with the employees’ progress so as to be able to predict any future occurrences of psychological challenges. It is important to note that, active listening is more about what is not done by the person communicating rather than what is actually done. This is so because, a number of times, the person listening is required to restrain from common responses in the process of listening and sincerely speaking, these are habits that one finds very difficult to separate him or herself from. There are certain circumstances whereby these habits may be considered appropriate but all in all they are very inappropriate when talking about active listening (Bolton 1986). Therefore, it is important to note that in active listening, these habits are considered to be roadblocks. These roadblocks may include; judging, which involves criticism, calling other people names and evaluative praising.
In the event of having a conversation on a topic that seems to incite strong emotions, it is necessary it avoid the tendency to evaluate from the listener’s point of view or reference, and to approve or to disapprove what another person is saying. This is one of the most commonly known roadblocks to effective communication between persons (Bolton 1986). Another roadblock is the act of suggesting solutions. This is a roadblock that mostly affects the medical practitioners because this is what actually their job involves (Bolton 1986). Solutions, results, guidance and counseling are what patients usually seek from these doctors. In general therefore, we can say that this roadblock involves; ordering, threatening, unconstructive or rather too much questioning and advising. The third roadblock is the act of ignoring or avoiding the other person’s concerns.
A lot of times people seem to divert from issues, reassure unconstructively and also create unnecessary arguments when communicating. These actions are inappropriate because they tend not to give the person with a problem a chance to air out his or her problems. Even worse, this person may believe that his problems are in fact not even real as these challenges may tend to convince them and feel foolish for worrying about them.
Organization’s role in helping employees address personal problems
In the Motor Parts Cooperation case, it could be difficult for Bob to communicate to Al about his feelings and concerns probably because he feels like the problem is beyond his capability, level of training and he may be having difficulty maintaining real contact with Al. Another possible problem may be that Al is socially isolated from him and therefore another person may be in a better position to extract the required information from him to be able to help.
The decision by Bob to ask Mike to talk to Al could be the right one since it has pros or rather advantages such as; one, Mike as a management professor has the relevant skills of managing employees and is in a better position to determine the communication style that would avoid agitation and anger. This can be done by showing empathy, respect, genuineness, being non-judgmental, empowering, being practical in their communication and showing high standards of ethical conduct. By so doing, he is able to get through to Al and extract the required and relevant information to be able to have the right feedback or solution.
On the other hand, the cons associated with this decision by Bob is that Al may feel offended by the fact that Bob is not able to face him personally and therefore their conversation with Mike may not be fruitful. Another disadvantage of this decision is that Al may loose confidence in Bob for sharing his personal problems with another person because he may have entrusted the information on Bob in confidentiality.
To open up a more meaningful conversation with Al, Bob could say things that would help build trust and understanding, guided by the techniques of active listening and giving feedback. For Bob to show that he is listening, it is important to use statements like, “Let’s see if we are communicating”, and frequently restate what he thinks Al said in his own words. Reflecting Al’s words in terms of feelings is also necessary e.g. by asking question such as, “Does the mentioning of your wife’s illness incite emotions in you?” Still on this, it is important to note that emotion labeling is also an important mechanism to help Al begin opening up. Therefore Bob could ask questions such as, “I’m having a feeling that you are psychologically disturbed, worried and anxious, is that true?” Also, to be able to get through to Al and get the relevant and even deeper information, Bob should probe Al with questions like, “So what do you suppose would happen if your wife’s condition was found to be worse?”
Therefore, it is important to note that MPC do have an obligation to assist its employees with personal problems that may affect their work performance. For example, in Al’s case, MPC could provide important assistance by referring him to a professional with the relevant skills to guide and counsel him on how to be able to handle his condition without it affecting his career. MPC could also assist by offering work leave when necessary to rest and support his ailing wife and avoid worrying. In times of crisis therefore, supportive communication is very necessary to build confidence and encourage the affected persons. Active listening skills are very essential for effective communication so as to be able to provide solutions.
Bolton, R., (1986). How to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflicts. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Denhardt, R. B., Denhardt, J. V., & Aristigueta, M. P (1998), Managing human behavior in public & nonprofit organizations. California: Sage publications.
Rivers, D., (2008), Cooperative Communication Skills for Success at Home and at Work. California: Human development books.