How does risk affect effective communication?

Written by Tennyson Brazier

August 31 2023

It is easy to approach any situation with a set mindset and ignore the many unconscious factors that influence our decision-making. One of the biggest hidden factors that can govern our decision-making is our approach to risk, so let us take a look at what risk has such a significant effect on us.

Some people charge towards risk, while others flee from it. Often in the same team at work you will have polar opposite approaches to risk, but you need to work out a way to deal with it. So lets figure that out!

What does risk look like in the workplace?

Everything about the workplace has elements of risks, from taking on new responsibilities to handling workplace relationships to dealing with your internal risk biases. Let’s look at how risk affects every stage of operations within the workplace.

Bias in the real world

Everyone has within them a set of expectations, rules and ideas that their perception of the world is based on. One of these baked-in expectations comes in the form of our risk tolerance, this being built from a range of factors from the culture we grew up in, to the formative experiences we had in life.

What is the risk of new responsibilities

In a time when we constantly develop our skills so we can be more effective workers and progress faster and faster. There seems to be a near-constant battle as to whether we actually have the bandwidth to take on new responsibilities. So many workers have incredible self-awareness that they are walking the razor edge between professional development and being overworked.

This balancing act means that every new responsibility is another straw that might just break the camel’s back and weighs on our minds. Leading us to hedge our bets and act with increased caution so as to protect ourselves from any negative backlash.

The risk in our own communication style

With so much emphasis placed on communication skills in the workplace, there is a necessity to be aware of how we deal with people. But far from this becoming easier, and increasingly natural it has only become more difficult to be an effective communicator.

With an increase in the barriers surrounding workplace communication from technology barriers, to cultural communications gaps to everything in between. The next to be aware of your own communication style is paramount to success.

How do we handle all of this risk when it comes to communication skills?

The questions we need to ask ourselves when looking at risk in the workplace is how can we mitigate it, and how can we adjust our actions to things practical?

How to handle your internal risk tolerance

This one is not a complicated thing in theory but tricky to do in practice. It is not to force yourself to tear up decades of learned information, or act like a chameleon and pretend like you don’t have an opinion on things and agree with the crowd.

Instead, the answer to this one is to be aware of it. When we look at risk tolerance you need to be aware of your own as well as what other people or groups around you may think. When we have difficult conversations in the workplace it can be easy to get caught up in our own values and ignore the ones others have. This is part of what makes active listening so important in the workplace to fill in those communication gaps that so often occur.

On top of this, it is important to understand general trends in risk tolerance that exist around the world, this doesn’t require you to be extremely knowledgeable but rather to make sure you are aware of these ideas.

Key cultural trends for risk tolerance

  • cultures that tend to be more focused on family and community are likely to have lower risk tolerance, as they don’t want negative things to affect those around them

  • cultures with personal success such as the US, UK who have a large emphasis on personal success are willing to be more high-risk high reward

How to adjust for these differences

This means that if you are dealing with people across the world, you may need to adjust your reasoning and explanations to break down this barrier between different communication styles.

If you are explaining to someone why they need to undertake a certain action in a country with a low-risk tolerance, explain how it benefits not just them but those around them. Appeal to their sense of collective and this will help improve your interpersonal skills and get the outcome you wish.

Conversely, if you are dealing with someone from a more risk-tolerant country, then you can focus less on how it affects those around them and instead on how they stand to benefit things.

How to use verbal communication to make the workplace more comfortable

When talking to anyone in the workforce it’s important to manage the risk of doing so and to engage with people in a positive manner. This means being empathetic to others in the workplace so you can establish strong interpersonal communication.

One thing to do here is to be mindful of your verbal communication and ensure you maintain a positive body language that welcomes people into conversations rather than excludes them. As well as utilising facial expressions to communicate emotion effectively.

In addition to this, it can be useful to think about public speaking with the idea that listening skills are just as important as the way you present. Take a moment to think about how someone in a role may be feeling.

What factors can affect how people feel about a conversation

  • the hierarchy of the conversation, whether there is a significant power imbalance

  • hidden personal life factors, that may be informing their current attitude

  • their own personal communication skills and confidence regarding business communication

All of these factors can have a massive impact on how people feel during a conversation.

How strong emotional intelligence can improve those difficult conversations

When communicating with anyone, the most common communication barriers can be overcome by being considerate of people’s personal circumstances and making sure they feel comfortable in their environment. Making sure that you appear engaged in the discussion and actively try to be helpful to enhance their experience and become more comfortable when discussing various topics.

The risk may be scary, but it must be managed

Risk in whatever context it occurs is of the utmost importance that is it managed using a variety of strategies. By approaching problems from various different ideas and being engaging you will find that communicating effectively is much easy to achieve.

Considering other people’s contexts and ensuring you are constantly striving to develop new skills will allow you as a person to become a more effective communicator.

How does our communications skills training help you?

We provide a number of different programs to help improve business communication skills and build confidence when speaking in public as a professional.

These not only work to identify practical skills for making engaging presentations but also provide practical tools that make it much easier to develop new skills. Placing an emphasis on active listening our expert facilitators help to enhance the skills of your team and deepen their understanding. allowing them to build powerful messages and enabling them to improve relationships within the workplace.

These courses can be tailored to the individual and have been designed for teams, groups, and organizations. We offer specialized courses on leadership, finance, and industries such as the medical or IT fields so that we can impart specific knowledge that will have the biggest impact on your team. To learn more about our programs, please check out this link for a full breakdown.

Risk scares everyone, but its how you deal with that fear that will give you power in the workplace

Understanding how risks and fear affect communication, is paramount to overcoming the barrier. Working out how to communicate across approaches and establishes processes that make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.

Reach out to us, to find ways to make you more confident and discover your voice! 


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