a fast-paced work environment where employers only want results and
performance, workers are ever under constant pressure to deliver. However, a
healthy personal and professional relationship between co-workers based on
effective communication is vital to execution and delivery. In the workplace,
co-workers are merely human beings and therefore must communicate with one
another every single moment or day. Excellent interpersonal communication
skills and techniques are critical to a healthy working environment, by
creating friendliness and enjoyment between co-workers.
interpersonal communication, co-workers interchange ideas using an assortment
of methods like facial expression, words, gestures and voice tones. Such
communication allows workers to share thoughts freely and minimize workplace
conflicts. Because employees come from diverse backgrounds, there are many
barriers to the effective interpersonal conversation that should be adequately
addressed by employees and their colleagues. Most significantly, interpersonal
communication plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining self-concept,
self-esteem, and self-image of the staff.
the workplace has become a second home for thousands of Americans, effective
interpersonal communication between co-workers is not only vital for healthy
professional relationships but also creating a conducive environment which
fosters personal growth, organizational success and reduces constant conflict
between co-workers. Co-workers must embrace and cultivate useful interpersonal
communication skills and tools that aid in sharing their ideas without feeling
Principles of and Barriers
to Effective, Competent Interpersonal Communications
are four principles of effective and competent interpersonal communication:
inescapable, irreversible, complicated and contextual. Interpersonal
communication is inescapable. Effective interpersonal communication is judged
by behavior and not intent. Secondly, interpersonal communication cannot be
reversed. Once a statement has been made, it cannot be taken back and therefore
the consequence inevitably remain. Thirdly, interpersonal communication can be
complicated because many variables are involved in the communication (Awad,
& Alhashemi, 2012).
simple requests can be very complicated and therefore co-workers must weigh all
the variables concerned. Lastly, interpersonal communication is contextual.
Communication does not take place in isolation. There is cultural context,
environmental context, situational context, relational context and
psychological context. Between co-workers there are barriers to effective and
competent interpersonal communication that may limit their abilities to promote
professional relationships and reduce breed conflict (Awad, & Alhashemi,
are both internal and external barriers that may limit interpersonal
communication between colleagues in the workplace, and we explore both these
types. More clearly, these barriers are downsized to psychological barriers,
cultural barriers, language barriers and physical barriers. Psychological
barriers may include negative emotions from past experiences, low self-esteem
and lack of commitment.
Firstly, employees may have negative emotions
from past experiences which are unreleased. Previous negative emotions is not
released may hunt co-workers and get expressed when they expect less. Such
emotions are often triggered by the same situations that show up in the
workplace, without recognizing them consciously. For instance, in the past, an
employee could have experienced a situation where someone raised a voice for
something that is not much of a big deal (Awad, & Alhashemi, 2012). Such
situations often come with negative emotions.
past experiences like an employee being fired for sharing their ideas with a
colleague can trigger negative emotions when dealing with a new crop of staff.
As long as workers do not identify and release such emotions, they can be a
hindrance to interpersonal communication because other colleagues may not
understand from where a worker’s overreaction is coming from. Low self-esteem
may also hinder interpersonal communication between co-workers. According to
Erozkan (2013), not having enough courage to express ideas because of feelings
of being not worthy takes a massive toll on interpersonal communication.
self-esteem can manifest in form of lack of confidence or mislead colleagues
about the intended message that was to be delivered. Some co-workers simply cannot communicate
effectively because they cannot take responsibility for their actions. Lack of
commitment is another psychological barrier that comes because a person may not
exactly know what they want, or lacking the courage to take appropriate
actions. It is extremely difficult to communicate with a workplace colleague
who is not committed, does not pay attention to the message being passed or
simply ignoring the communication.
In fact, lack of commitment is often a major
challenge in the workplace environment where everyone has a tight timeline to
achieve certain outcomes (DeKay, 2012). Cultural barriers are common in diverse
workplaces where co-workers are drawn from different ethnic or racial
backgrounds, different language groups, age and gender. In a multicultural
workplace, language and cultural differences impede interpersonal communication.
Cultural barriers can also be in the form of a unique workplace environment
where staff are expected to behave in a particular manner or way to gain
instance, in an autocratic workplace where differing viewpoints are not
tolerated, colleagues find it particularly hard sharing their ideas and
opinions (DeKay, 2012). Additionally, language barriers can come from not only
when co-workers have different native languages but when they use unfamiliar
terminology, buzzwords and jargon that is not understood by the rest of the
colleagues. Gender differences may also create interpersonal communication
obstacles in several ways.
example in a work environment dominated by males, female workers may find it
particularly difficult sharing their ideas and opinions because they may feel
excluded, ignored or treated harshly. Since women and men have different
communication styles, communication between male and women colleagues can be
greatly (DeKay, 2012). Most significantly men and women express and form their
Role of Communication in
Developing and Maintaining Self-esteem, Self-image, and Self-concept
concept describes merely how people perceive themselves. How an individual sees
himself or herself, define and understand themselves is essential in developing
interpersonal relationships. Self-concept according to social scientists is
crucial because it reflects in relation and people around (DeKay, 2012). The
relationship between workers and their mates can affect two areas of
self-concept, self-esteem, and self-image. Self-image describes the traits or
characteristics people believe they possess while self-esteem is peoples’
evaluation of what is valuable about themselves or what is worthwhile.
three concepts are vital in developing long-lasting interpersonal relationships
between co-workers. For any person in a
work environment, developing and improving self-image takes a lot of time and
practice. Improving and developing good self-esteem involves promoting positive
but realistic attitude towards oneself and the environment around while
appreciating self-worth (DeKay, 2012).
esteem also helps in behaving responsibility towards colleagues in the work
environment. By focusing on changing their way of thinking before changing the
circumstances around them, coworkers can build self-esteem which creates
positive self-concept. Self- concept is developed and improved by eliminating
internal barriers that keep co-workers from doing their best in interpersonal
Building a personal foundation is vital in
communicating with workmates, especially with a solid foundation of self-love,
self-confidence, and self-knowledge. Developing healthy self-concept for
healthy interpersonal communications requires the following: knowing strengths
and weaknesses, loving self, and being true to the self (DeKay, 2012). When
developing these vital self-concept skills, co-workers can also appreciate
other people’s ways self-concept, self-image, and self-esteem that promotes interpersonal
Importance of Self-disclosure and Emotional
Intelligence in Co-worker Relationship
can be described as purposeful disclosure of personal information or details to
a colleague or another person in interpersonal communication. Both verbal and
nonverbal communication in interpersonal relationships can reveal vital
information about the self. While some people may feel that self-disclosure,
especially to a work colleague, is not appropriate, Lolli (2013) and DeKay (2012)
both stress that self-disclosure can be very essential in promoting
communication in the workplace environment.
in international relationships does not always have to be sincere to be
meaningful or useful for colleagues in the workplace. Shallow self-disclosure
in the form of a small talk between co-workers can initiate vital interpersonal
relationships that transit onto more personal levels of self-disclosure. For
instance, telling a workmate your hometown during the first week of employment
carries little risk but can later build into a vital friendship that lasts
beyond the workplace (DeVito, 2013).
self-disclosure process is circular, which means that as a workmate
self-discloses, the message recipient reacts, and the original discloser
processes the reaction. For instance, suppose a co-worker discloses that he
thinks the new boss got his promotion because of favoritism and not merit, the
colleague is likely to make a dispositional attribution connecting the cause of
the disclosure to his personality by thinking. Lolli (2013) and DeKay (2012)
explain that when self-disclosure is received positively by a workmate, it
creates a form of intimacy that builds cemented relationships likely to last
for a long time.
the other hand, emotional intelligence is composed of being aware of personal
feelings, managing emotions, motivating self, and recognizing other peoples’
emotions in interpersonal relationships (DeVito, 2013). The five basic
principles of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, self-regulation,
motivation, empathy and social skills are very vital in building interpersonal
relationships in the workplace. Self-awareness is the skill of being aware of
and understanding personal emotions (DeVito, 2013).
co-workers think of their emotions as being appropriate or inappropriate, they
can have high levels of emotional awareness, accurate self- assessment and
self-confidence that promotes interpersonal communication. Self-regulation is
composed of self-control, adaptability, conscientiousness, trustworthy and
innovation. When co-workers have learned how to be aware of their emotions,
self-regulation helps in the appropriate and proportionate management of these
emotions (Lolli, 2013).
is the drive to achieve and improve commitment to personal goals, or readiness
to act on chances, resilience, and optimism (DeVito, 2013). As a skill in
emotional intelligence, it makes people assertive instead of agreeing to the
demands of other staff without critical evaluation. Empathy helps workmates be
aware of the feelings and needs of their colleagues both in groups and
individually and being capable of seeing things from their viewpoints. Empathy
is particularly significant for interpersonal relationships because co-workers
can develop a deeper understanding of other workers’ situations.
Strategies for Using
Communication Techniques to Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts
interpersonal conflicts for co-workers can be challenging, but is very vital
for healthy relationships. However, through communication, there are strategies
that can be used by co-workers to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Firstly, the
challenges or disputes should be addressed as immediate as possible, without
avoiding or assuming it. Most co-workers prevent or assume the existence of
interpersonal conflicts between them (DeVito, 2013). When such is entertained
for long, workers may experience an eruption of bottled feelings.
open, transparent and real communication, any “small hitch” should be addressed
before escalating. Secondly, co-workers should think the conflict through.
Before addressing the co-worker with whom a person has a battle, discussing the
problem with an objective third party, say family member or friend can help in
clarifying issues and needs. The friend or family member may advise how to deal
with the situation. However, relying on the opinion of the third party can be
detrimental (Awad, & Alhashemi, 2012).
co-workers should talk the conflict out, face to face. Meeting in person with
the workmate can be intimidating. However, it is the best way to address the
issue. Face-to-face communication helps in actively and freely exchanging
feelings, emotions, and information that can help resolve the conflict. If a
solution is reached, the parties can smile, share a handshake or even laugh the
conflict off. Messaging, email, social media and third-party communication
should not be used.
co-workers should apologize when necessary and appropriate. Co-workers should
be aware of their part in creating the conflict (DeVito, 2013). Therefore, if
they did something inappropriate or wrong, being willing to acknowledge it and
saying sorry is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes co-workers have to meet their
colleagues halfway to arrive at an amicable solution. Lastly, working on
personal communication skills can help resolve conflicts (Erozkan, 2013). For
instance, the ability of a finance assistant to express himself openly will
allow him to say what is on his mind to the sales executive. This way, they get
their feelings off their chests.
Impact of Gender and Culture on Interpersonal
and culture determine the manner in which people think, interact, act and
perceive different forms of communication. Gender and cultural differences,
therefore, impact the way in which co-workers communicate in interpersonal
relationships. Communication styles are at times varied depending on gender and
culture. According to Awad and Alhashemi (2012), gender differences in
interpersonal communication can be as glaring as day and night. Men and women
sometimes perceive the same message to have varied meanings.
familiar concept, “battle of the sexes” can be the cause of the difference in
communication between men and women. Some workplace environments are
male-dominated which means ideas, thoughts, and opinions of female co-workers
may be subdued or even ignored (Erozkan, 2013). According to their nature,
women are likely to pay more attention when the underlying message implies
intimacy compared to men. In interpersonal relationships communication, women
have a softer tone and more sensitive to the feelings of their colleagues.
Because of their sensitivity, they may get
upset when their male counterparts ignore their messages or have their intended
communication subdued (Erozkan, 2013). As opposed to women, men are more
aggressive, have a masculine tone, and have task-focused perceptions to similar
messages shared within the interpersonal relationship. Men are likely to make
their decisions based on personal needs (Awad, & Alhashemi, 2012). Because
of the personal needs- decision-making approach, their interpersonal
communication may not encompass the broader aspirations of other work
the other hand, women make their decisions after highlighting on the comparison
between themselves and their colleagues. Women tend to be more accommodative,
and they want to make decisions which are likely to favor other staff (Awad,
& Alhashemi, 2012). Another difference is in how men and women interpret
messages. In multi-cultural work environments, interpersonal communication is
affected. If co-workers understand the differences in gender and culture, they
can communicate better with their colleagues.
the men and women hear messages differently, co-workers can start sharing each
other’s differences and misrepresentations and start embracing them. Regardless
of gender and cultural differences, co-workers must understand those
interpersonal miscommunications and therefore avoid struggles and dispositions
likely to follow (Awad, & Alhashemi, 2012). It does not mean that people
should bury their differences. The gender and cultural differences can be
exploited by co-workers to develop healthy interpersonal relationships that
foster growth and personal development.
communicate regularly. They share ideas, thoughts, opinions and vital
information that shape their personal and professional development. We live in
an information-laden society where co-workers must develop useful interpersonal
communication skills to foster positive relationships. Since employees spend
more time in the workplace in some cases more than their homes, it is crucial
that they harness vital interpersonal communication skills that reduce the number
of conflicts between them and improve on their overall workplace relationships.
co-worker communication goes out of the workplace. When healthy interpersonal
relationships are developed between co-workers, they promote a conducive,
sturdy and professional environment where everyone achieves growth. Co-workers
must therefore embrace and foster useful interpersonal communication skills and
tools that aid in sharing their ideas without feeling uncomfortable.