Supportive Communication – Meaning and Attributes

Communication is an everyday activity. It is the ordinary interaction that occurs between coworkers, friends, acquaintances, or intimates on daily bases. Communication comes in different forms. Verbal communication which includes sounds, words, language and speaking whiles non-verbal communication involves physical ways of communication like, tone of voice, touch, smell and body language.

The quality of communication and how communications are evolves and is maintained are the basis of whether a relationship amongst individuals are stable, become more intimate when appropriate and if additional information is shared between individual reflecting trust between the both parties in every facet of human life. Ineffective communication may lead individual to dislike each other, be offended by each other, lose confidence, refuse to listen and disagree to each other as well as causing a host of other interpersonal problem.

Normally positive interpersonal relationships results when always things are going on well and people do what they are expected and suppose of them. However, when communicating to an individual who has a negative attitude, such as a personality conflict with coworker or hasn’t perform up to expectation, the risk of putting the employee on the defensive is very high. Individual often react defensively if they feel they are being punished or threatened by communicating, and thus they devote attention to identify counter arguments rather than listening. Thus communication is more productive when it is done constructively or done supportively.

Meaning of Supportive Communication

Supportive communication is interpersonal communications that help individuals to communicate accurately, especially in difficult situations and times. Supportive communication seeks to preserve or enhance a positive relationship between you and another person while still addressing a problem, giving negative feedback, or tackling a difficult issue. It allows you to communicate information to others that is not complimentary, or to resolve an uncomfortable issue with another person but, in the process, strengthen your relationship. Supportive communication builds and strengthened relationships when delivering negative feedback or when you have to point out few shortcoming of another person. It thus seek to preserve or enhance a positive relationship between two people whiles still addressing issue. It allows communicating information to others that is not complementary but rather that strengthen the relationship.

Companies fostering supportive communication enjoy higher productivity, faster problem solving, higher quality outputs, and fewer conflicts and subversive activities than groups or organizations where relationships are less. Companies with presence of good supportive communication between managers and subordinate were three times more powerful in predicting profitability in major cooperation’s over a five year period than the most powerful variables – market size, firm size and saves growth rate-combined.

Attributes of Supportive Communication

There are arguably eight attributes of supportive communication. This indicates that to communicate supportively one must adhere to these characteristics when communicating.

  1. Problem oriented, not person oriented. Problem-oriented communication focuses on a problem that can be solved rather than the person who is responsible for the problem. Person-oriented communication puts the listener on the defensive and focuses the attention on blame rather than on avoiding or solving future problems
  2. Congruent, not incongruent. Congruent communication conveys what the speaker is thinking and feeling. There are definitely situations where discretion is a more appropriate choice than full disclosure of what we think and feel. However, in most communication situations, we communicate more effectively when we’re candid. If we aren’t honest, listeners won’t trust what we say.
  3. Descriptive, not evaluative. Evaluative communication expresses judgment of the listener, or his or her actions. To be an effective constructive communicator, we should objectively describe problems rather than speak in an evaluative manner. Evaluative communication puts the listener on the defensive.
  4. Validating, not invalidating. Validating communication helps people feel understood, valued, and accepted. In contrast, invalidating communication treats people as if they are ignored, worthless, or alienated. Invalidating communication is superiority-oriented, rigid, impervious and/or indifferent and its avoid treating the listener like a lesser person.
  5. Specific, not global. There are two key drawbacks to global statements of problems; they’re often too large to be resolved and they tend to oversimplify and misrepresent problems.
  6. Conjunctive, not disjunctive. Disjunctive communication takes at least three forms; not letting the other party speak, long pauses, and switching topics. Disjunctive communication can result in the other party thinking that their input is not being considered.
  7. Owned, not disowned. When we “own” our communication, we take responsibility for our statements and acknowledge that we are the source of the ideas conveyed and not someone else. We “disown” communication when we search for third parties to attribute our comments to.
  8. Listening, not one-way message delivery. Explains, effective listening is actively absorbing the information given to you by a speaker, showing that you are listening and interested, and providing feedback to the speaker so that he or she knows the message was received. Effective listening is often taken for granted, but it’s a valuable managerial tool.

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