Managers and supervisors often miss out on communication problems until they become too big to ignore.

Communication is the key to building strong business relationships, reaching productivity goals, and improving job satisfaction. All employees should rate communication high on their priority lists. Whether you’re experiencing problems today or trying to avoid communication breakdown in the future, it is helpful to understand the reasons behind the difficulties.

Why Communication Breakdowns Occur

Communication breakdowns happen for a number of reasons, from individual employee problems to systematic problems. Identifying problems early on can help teams identify solutions and work through potential difficulties together. Look out for these warning signs to avoid communication breakdowns:

  • Team members start competing with, or ignoring, each other instead of collaborating.
  • Individuals experience difficulty in maintaining project deadlines and assignment instructions.
  • Individuals bring personal concerns about work to your attention.

Over time, these minor issues may escalate. If individuals begin to harbor resentment against team members or managers, productivity may suffer, and an entire team or department may experience problems. If you catch the signs early, you can take steps to resolve the situation and build a stronger and more collaborative workspace

Addressing and Avoiding Communication Breakdowns

If possible, avoid communication breakdowns before they escalate. Set clear expectations for the workplace early and reinforce those expectations often. To strengthen communication practices and address any potential communication difficulties, use these tips:

  • Set aside time for interpersonal relationships. Professionals spend much of their days in the office. Employees who can’t work together may cause problems for themselves and others. Focus on team-building exercises and encourage employees to work together instead of remaining isolated during the day. While too much camaraderie can upset productivity, workplace friendships and respect inspire trust, loyalty, and productivity.


  • Don’t ignore potential problems. As with any relationship, unaddressed communication issues can and will fester. Involve an HR representative if needed, but encourage employees to find common ground in the workplace. They don’t need to like each other, but they must respect each other’s work and boundaries.


  • Focus on the positive. Creating a culture of positivity promotes communication and productivity success. Use positive communication practices, such as praising others for jobs well done, delivering inspiring and constructive criticism, and motivating a team to share in each other’s successes.


  • Get away from email. Face-to-face contact enhances communication. If you need to communicate with someone one office over or down the hall, physically go and speak to him or her. In addition to improving communication clarity, getting up throughout the day may improve your overall health and ability to focus.

Recognize the warning signs early to avoid communication breakdowns, and focus on building an open and collaborative work environment. Strong communication is the key to business success in the modern workplace.

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