The purpose of this two part study was to highlight and analyze different workplace communication styles and test them for efficacy and usage frequency. The authors point out that with advances in technology and changes in workforce demographics, communication and collaboration have become increasingly required as necessary skills.
Definitions of communication vary according to the specific field or job, but it may be beneficial for employers to identify specific types of communication that are used in their workspace and then hire or evaluate accordingly.
The writers also cite Bandura’s social cognitive theory as a basis to explore how communication behaviors can be learned, replicated, and self evaluated. (Keyton, Caputo, Ford & Leibowitz., 2013, p. 154 ) In addition, knowing this information would allow employers and employees to communicate more intentionally and effectively when encountering workplace conflicts.
The authors first proposed five assumptions that would ideally encompass all behaviors studied (Keyton et al.,2013,p.156). The authors agree that communication behaviors should feature a number of components that include social interaction and promote relationship building within the members of a specific group for a specific set of tasks or team goals (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 156).
Much of this study is focused on the concept of intentionality and thinking of communication as an observable behavior rather than a skill (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 156). Acknowledging the communication process as being crucial to receiving a specific set of outcomes may help encourage it in the workplace.
Emphasizing communication as a teamwork oriented and dynamic process ensures that no one’s desires or opinions get left behind in pursuing any specific project. Much of workplace interaction nowadays is done in teams or collaboratively, so it is crucial that the communication style is “socially created and collectively agreed upon” (Keyton et al., 2013, p.156).
In order to test their assumptions, the researchers identified 343 communication behaviors listed in various textbooks to be used for organizational development teachings. From the list, the researchers narrowed it down to 150 behaviors identified as specifically occurring in the workplace. They also decided to ignore nonverbal communication like body positioning and eye contact.
To obtain results, they used snowball sampling and an online survey to gather answers from 126 people (female = 68.9%, N = 87; male = 31.1%, N = 39; M age = 35.74, SD = 11.80). The participants completed the survey by “checking off the verbal workplace communication behaviors they heard or observed in the previous day of work” (Keyton et al, 2013, p. 159). 90% were college graduates, 81.9% worked 40 hours a week, and 61.9% or more than half were not in managing positions.
The authors recruited 331 participants (60.1% female, 33.2% males, 6.6% not identified). More than half of respondents were recruited by email, social media, or public announcements (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 160). Measurements for communication-at-work-efficacy were formulated from the results of study 1 (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 160). Participants were required to use the 5 point likert scale to rate themselves on their use of the top 43 behaviors. Participants also used the Relational Competence survey to measure their own efficacy in workplace conversations (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 160).
The researchers found that the top ten communication behaviors were “listening (84.13%), asking questions (81.75%), discussing (76.98%), sharing information (76.19%), agreeing (74.60%), suggesting (74.60%), getting feedback (73.81%), seeking feedback (73.81%), answering questions (71.43%), and explaining (69.84%)” (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 158).
The survey demonstrated that these highly used versions of communication are present across a number of unique workplace environments. The authors found that having a specific list of terms for workplace communication would allow for more clarity in what skills are needed from employees rather than just listing oral communication as a general skill requirement.
In response to research question one, the common structural properties were identified as “Information sharing, relational maintenance, expressing negative emotion, and organizing” (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 162). Participants found they struggled with communicating criticisms and expressing dissatisfaction (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 162).
From the second study, the authors also found that “social and emotional” connections should be cultivated in the workplace in addition to strictly goal oriented communication (Keyton et al., 2013 p. 164-165). Interpersonal communication in the end resulted in a more thorough completion of tasks due to high workplace morale (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 164).
In research question two, the authors found that there were positive correlations between information sharing, relational maintenance and organizing, using Monge’s, Spitzberg, and Cupach’s scales (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 162). However there was little correlation between these and expressing negative emotion (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 162). The authors suggest that future research could explore these behaviors in “employee-employee” interactions as well as “employee-client” interactions (Keyton et al., 2013, p. 165).