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There are different types of organizational communication for effective communication in the workplace. These include vertical communication and horizontal communication. Vertical communication refers to upward communication which is subordinate to superior, and downward communication which is administration to worker. While horizontal communication is described as team members of the same status speaking with each other. (Friberg, 2020).
An example of upward communication in the workplace can be displayed through shared governance. Shared governance is explained to be a collaboration skill designed in health care to bring values and beliefs of a profession system to ensure everything is running smoothly (Alligood, 2018, p. 160). In my experience, a member from the management team sit down at a conference table with staff members and will take in suggestions about a particular subject that needs improvement. An interpretation of downward communication would be through annual evaluations. Every year around the same time, a nurse manager or part of the management team will bring staff members to a private spot and discuss areas of excellence and areas that could use improvement in workplace competency. Lastly, an example of horizontal communication in nursing would be your nursing orientation. In nursing orientation, one nurse may have more experience than the nurse beginning their career, but they are both registered nurses on the same organizational level. Often nursing orientation consist of programs designed to educate the novice nurse while supporting the new nurse educational tools and professional mentoring (Friedman, et al., 2013, p. 163).
Upon reflecting on the healthcare work experiences I have had and the communication patterns I have noticed, I came to realize that it has been certain personality traits more than anything that determined what I felt to be the most effective and respectful communication across upward, downward, and horizontal lines. Frieberg (2020) informs us that communication among individuals in an organization go along a hierarchy of positions. Innate personality traits partly explain an individual’s communication skills, especially the traits of agreeableness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and openness which in their study, had a correlation with higher scores resulting in more effective communication between orthopedic residents and their patients (Holmes et al., 2020).
As a new nurse on a hospital floor during orientation, I was extremely fortunate to have been trained under a charge nurse that possessed the personality trait of emotional stability to the likes of which I have never seen before. She was a fellow staff nurse and so my communication with her was horizontal. The whole entire floor could be falling apart and she would look levelly at me, ask what takes priority and we would get right to it. She was conscientious, agreeable and her unshakable work ethic always had morale high. The communication pattern between us was appropriate and effective; it kept expectations clear and made me want to be a better nurse. On the other hand, the upper management spoke to staff nurses in downward communication and unfortunately, most possessed the personality traits of excitable and skeptical which Holmes, et al. (2020) associated with lower performance ratings and are not conducive to effective communication. There was usually a feeling of dread when the nursing supervisors came down the hall and this affected the mood of all the staff nurses on the floor. When it came time to report to my supervisors utilizing upward communication, it was usually about patient conditions and their changes in status. These types of communications were usually well-received, respectful, and appropriate. I also communicated to them when I was not comfortable with an assignment due to a high nurse to patient ratio that felt unsafe. It has been my experience that depending on the supervisor I spoke with; my requests were either met with skepticism or understanding. Much of the skeptical reactions I received fell in line with what Holmes, et al. (2020) observed when communicating with persons having skeptical and excitable personality traits resulted in ineffective communication and while I do not feel this communication from my supervisors was appropriate, I do understand why they reacted this way once I considered the research that personality traits partly explain an individual’s communication skills (Holmes, et al., 2020). I also found it interesting that the supervisors I had that displayed understanding and open personality traits did not stay in their supervisory roles longer than one year.
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