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Empathy is important for overcoming barriers to communication based on culture. Empathy means sensing the feelings and attitudes of others as if we had experienced them personally. There is a common expression that describes how you can develop empathy: ‘You need to walk a mile in another person’s shoes’.There are many techniques involved in creating empathy. We can try: respecting other’s feelings and attitudesusing active listening skillsencouraging involvement of others by asking questions while respectingpersonal privacyusing open body language and an encouraging vocal tonetaking other people’s fears and concerns into consideration.refraining from giving unsolicited advice.not blaming, instead working towards a solution.12Team participation skills
Environmental barriers Not all barriers to communication are caused by people. There are many environmental factors affecting the effective communication process. Messages can be blocked by environmental factors, such as the physical setting or the situation where communication takes place.Managing environmental factorsHere are some points to help you manage environmental factors for effective communication when in teams.Team meeting rooms should be cool but not cold. A warm room makes participants sleepy; a cold room can make them very unhappy!Make sure that the environment is comfortable and secure. People need to feel safe before they will listen or offer suggestions.Check that nothing behind or near the team member will cause distraction (for example, activity seen through an open window or door; a television screen). Turn off your mobile phone when you are communicating with other people.Wait until machinery (or any other distracting noise) is turned off beforeyou even try to communicate. If this is not possible, move to a quieter location.Use accepted format in any written communication (letters, memorandums and reports) and, if it’s important, check with someone beforehand that they can understand it.As a communicator, you need to think about what are the potential and real environmental barriers in your workplace or community.Team participation skills13
SummaryCommunication is about sharing meaning. With no sharing, there is no communication. To communicate successfully in a team or with others, at work or in the community, you need to understand the communication environment and the barriers which prevent messages being sent and received successfully. As senders we must monitor feedback and change out communication to suit the diversity of the person with whom we are communicating. We are fortunate to have a richness of different experiences in our Australian workplaces to tap into.14Team participation skills