Communication is inevitable in every aspect of our life, including in our work lives. Hence, we must embrace it and prepare ourselves for it. Now, why is it important for us to do so? Quintanilla and Mallard (2019) give us an example of behaviour called “Communication Bravado”, where a person perceives their communication as effective while others do not share that perception, therefore we need to avoid such behaviours and be wary of the way we communicate. As college students, some of us may have zero experience regarding professional communication. Even for those who have tasted a part of professional communication, be it through college organizations, internships, etc. we have not fully immersed ourselves in professional communication for most of the time. We all have our guesses, assumptions, and ideas of how professional communication takes place like and some of us are left in the dark about it. I’ve interviewed two different individuals currently working at Metro TV and BRBGKLTR to help us get a glimpse of professional communication. So, how does professional communication take place?
Before we begin taking a look at the processes of professional communications, let us compare our assumptions with the interviewees. The first interviewee, Edo, a production staff at Metro TV, explains that he already has a prediction of how professional communication in his current office takes place before he enters the company. This is because he has previously worked at another company, albeit a more casual one, in terms of professional communication. He envisions the professional communication in his current office to be more formal, as in regulated mostly by job position and age. Once entering the company, Edo confirms that his expectations match the reality of his workplace environment, where he works with people whose age ranges up to the age of 50s and 60s. Whereas the other interviewee, Bagas, a project manager at BRBGKLTR answers resonates with some of us, where he has no previous expectations. But his reason is that he thought that it would be similar to any professional communication.
As both interviewees are already a part of their office and they’ve fully immersed themselves in workplace communication, both of them have their take on what they deem as an important thing to do or have in such settings. Edo believes that it is important for us to be cautious in workplace communication, because in an office with thousands of employees, oftentimes we do not know much about the other person we’re communicating with. He also advises trying and analysing the other individual’s point of view, way of thinking, etc. While Bagas believes that observing your surroundings is an important thing to do in professional communication, because by observing we can know what is accepted and what is not, hence allowing us to have some sort of guideline in our office’s communication.
With an understanding of what we must do in workplace communication, I’ve asked both interviewees regarding examples of what they consider unprofessional conduct in workplace communication and how they perceive it. Edo tells a common example of a superior giving order that is inconsistent and refusing to admit the wrong in their part. Another example is how his superiors would often joke around regarding salaries, such as “I’m going to cut your salary” when an individual made a mistake. He sees such actions as unprofessional, because in a personal relationship, salaries are a very sensitive topic, especially in professional communication. Based on these two occurrences, he thinks that the parties that engage in such behaviour should learn more in ways of communicating professionally. As Bagas works in a more ‘relaxed’ office, his example of unprofessional communication would be his peer making a joke during a meeting and it was accepted.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, both interviewee offices have been affected, especially in communications. Edo believes that online workplace communication has amplified the existing communication problems such as miscommunication. For instance, an important task is often given out only through WhatsApp or e-mails, causing the order to lack clarity. Edo argues also that he prefers face-to-face communication because it minimizes the chance of miscommunication. After all, online communication has no gestures, intonation, or tone, especially in text mediums, such as chats, e-mails, etc. Bagas, on the other hand, claims that online communication doesn’t affect his workplace communication as there is no significant change in the way he communicates with his peers or superiors.
Despite the differences in both interviewees’ line of work and their office’s communication culture, both of them believe that professional workplace communication is important, although Bagas stresses that the communication must have some flexibility and workplace communication that is too strict can cause unnecessary tension.
Although both perspectives may not represent workplace and professional communication everywhere, I hope that the answers and insights given by both interviewees may shed some light on this topic for the reader. I also hope that it may help the readers themselves formulate ways or ideas on how they can approach workplace and professional communication.
Quintanilla, K. M., & Wahl, S. T. (2019). Business and Professional Communication: KEYS for Workplace excellence. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
By: Renanda Aziz Iskandar | 2201818063
This article is based on a PR Lab practicum project for the Workplace Ethics & Behaviour course