Communication as a workplace health and safety issue.

Your people talk, they email, they write, they gesture at each other… in general they communicate. The challenge is when they do it in a manner that does not suit the situation. Someone gets upset at how they have been spoken to, the way a person insinuates something or some version of this.

When communication in your business is good, people feel they have a positive part to play in the scheme of things. They are able to listen/read/watch and respond to information and know that what they say and how they say it will be taken in a suitable positive context.

What happens when things don’t go right? Well in simple terms a small things becomes a big thing fast, and before long a problem festers. Some people will lay blame on another person, then something distorts the information, tempers flare and a nasty experience ensues.

The end result is a workplace of people who don’t get along, their “psycho social fabric’ alters and the mess left behind is nasty. This is when the place becomes unsafe; there are mental issues, stresses. Then there are the cultural issues, who now talks to whom and about what…

Sometimes the issues can be a perception about how things are and if one person believes a situation is real it can lead to creating an experience that it is real. (Perception is reality!)

Communication can have all sorts of variables, a few words wrongly used in an instruction, and few words heard (or not heard) which are out of context and the situation can become messy fast.

What can you do?

  • You have a duty of care – And so do others in your team, so work towards creating a positive work environment free from harassment and silly pranks which could make things go sour
  • Set solid values in your mission and vision – To ensure you provide a framework for positive communication at all levels and have a standard to work to
  • Train your people – in positive communication, do some internet research and find examples of good and bad communication, then discuss these points at meetings
  • Get great at service – Customer service excellence is mostly about good communication, this can set up a good foundation for your internal and external service guidelines
  • Know that Health and Safety is more than physical – Set up your organisation to be highly aware of the psycho social issues which are so much a part of how humans operate and work within those positive guidelines

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