Can effective communication improve mental health?

business team

Imagine if you were feeling totally overwhelmed at work and at home. Perhaps you have a lot of anxiety regarding your finances, your spouse or your children. Or maybe the demands at work have increased due to a reduction in the workforce at your company, and you have more stress than ever before.

Now consider if you were this overwhelmed and you tried to discuss it with your manager, but he or she was too busy or too distracted to listen. On the other hand, what impact could a manager have on an employee if the manager was willing and trained to help employees improve their personal situations?

Many Americans are facing some of these psychosocial stressors, and it can directly impact their productivity in the workplace. For managers, learning effective communication skills can help reduce the overall impact these stressors can have on your employees. Two important components of treatment for mental health professionals are establishing rapport and providing empathic listening skills with their clients. When people are heard and feel understood, they experience at least some relief from their stressors and anxieties. They feel that the person who took the time to listen to them truly cares about their well-being.

Consider the following effective communication skills from HelpGuide.org to improve the overall mental health of your employees:

  • Make the speaker feel heard and understood, which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between you.
  • Create an environment where everyone feels safe to express ideas, opinions and feelings, or plan and problem solve in creative ways.
  • Save time by helping clarify information, and avoid conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Diffuse negative emotions. When emotions are running high, if the speaker feels that truly heard, it can help to calm him or her down, diffuse negative feelings, and allow for real understanding and problem solving to begin.[1]

One of the biggest barriers to effective communication is making the time for it. Employers can establish a more open communication forum at work, and also secure more positive employer-employee relationships by taking the time to talk with and listen to employees about the issues they’re facing.

Listening sure can be a difficult skill to master, as we all know, but it’s worth putting in the practice in the long run. It’s the ultimate mark of respect, and there’s no greater way to show someone you care than to listen. Employees will feel valued and understood, which could ultimately prevent a potential leave of absence and improve overall employee productivity in the workplace.



[1]Reprinted with permission from HelpGuide.org ©2001-2010. All rights reserved. For more information, visit http://www.helpguide.org.

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