Cooperative communication, in the world of business, is generally defined as the skill and ability of employees to “get along” at the workplace; the techniques of sharing information in a non-threatening and polite manner are the basis of cooperative communication, and when properly implemented, cooperative communication enhances the workplace experience and typically inspires better performance.
It is natural that, during the complexity and repetitive nature of typical workdays, person-to-person conflicts will arise. The pressure to perform, both individually and as team members, can generate high-level negativity and conflict in many employees. Cooperative communication often acts as an effective “pressure release valve”.
Studies have shown that when cooperative communication is lacking, feelings of hostility, operational problems, and poor individual performance are among the unhappy results. This begs the question: Why isn’t cooperative communication practiced by all companies to avoid the problems created by its lack of implementation?
Unfortunately, there is a general lack of cooperative communication for a simple, but often undiscovered reason: Most people have never been taught the skill. Few schools and higher education institutions have cooperative communication on their course menu. Unless employees learned the skill at home from their parents, most have little appreciation for or the ability to use this important commodity. Unfortunately, this skill is often lacking in otherwise high performing managers, too.
The simple act of cooperative communication can have a profound effect on management effectiveness in a variety of ways. For example, good cooperative communication will often:
- Eliminate employee-to-employee friction. As workplace pressures escalate, so does the natural human conflicts that occur. Cooperative communication usually eliminates much of this vocal friction and helps teams work together more successfully.
- Eliminate the attitude of “winning an argument” and introduce a philosophy of problem solving. Instead of a personal competition environment, staff normally adopts a winning attitude towards the team or department in which they function.
- Eliminate professional personality and procedure conflicts. Instead of an attitude of “Do it my way. It’s the best way,” cooperative communication fosters an attitude of “Let’s work together to do it the best way”. This one attribute can help management immensely.
- Eliminate conflict and wasted time at strategic and training meetings. Both staff and management often complain about the number of meetings they are required to attend. Yet, for all the jokes and complaints, management knows that most meetings are necessary. Cooperative communication in the meeting place saves time, helps the moderator stay on topic, and generates better results.
- Eliminate many client and customer complaints about poor treatment by staff. Nothing can do more harm to a company’s branding and image efforts than a customer or client base that feels mistreated by staff. A habit of cooperative communication often eliminates much of the customer dissatisfaction (real or perceived) that afflicts many companies.
Cooperative communication is a simple concept that can deliver wonderful positive results to management. Managers should understand that because of lack of training at all levels of education many employees don’t understand how to use cooperative communication.
Depending on the size and/or structure of a company, the Human Resource (HR) Department, team leaders, or department managers can implement the training and support necessary to expose employees to the ways to use cooperative communication. This is a win-win situation for both staff and management, as employees will enjoy a more positive workplace experience by eliminating much of the natural conflict that occurs.