The labor relations specialist is the guide in the work environment between the employing company and the employee. A person in this profession has the competence in developing work contracts, finds compromises for the parties, and examines the average payments and benefits in the industry. However, the most important thing is that a specialist in labor relations must have practical communication skills since it is necessary to communicate a lot, discuss, make decisions in the process of dialogue, and solve conflicts and problems. This paper has collected various sources that regulate the competence of a labor relations specialist in communication and planning. A practical set of tools that have a theoretical basis and are proven in the scientific literature will be helpful for everyone interested in this profession and wants to connect their future with it.
Basics of Professional Communication
Representatives of this profession need to look for an approach to mutual benefit between the employer and the worker. Often, the interests of both parties collide in a conflict, and through this person, this conflict comes to naught. The foundations for success are deeply rooted in psychology and emotional intelligence, making the labor relations profession one of the most communication-competent, second only to the medical and educational professions. The increased interest in the methodology and theory of labor relations is due to the contradictions and alternatives of the current stage of development of the world economy and global society (Sycheva et al., 2018). In this regard, it is necessary to have a clear plan of the critical communication skills that the specialist should use.
Two Communication Models
In this area’s theory, two models describe the process of communication between a representative of a given profession and his client. Lasswell’s model – one of the earliest influential models – can be divided into five components for analysis: communicator, message, medium, audience, effect (Dolzhenkova et al., 2021). According to the structure of the response, a communication plan is built for the specialist, which considers all the above elements. Among the three functions of communication, according to Lasswell, the labor relations specialist uses, as a rule, only two: surveillance of the environment and society components correlation. The third function – cultural transmission between generations – can only be considered in specific contexts.
According to the Mehrabian model, the essential component in communication is audio-visual communication. Only 7% of the effect of communication depends on verbal cues, while 38% and 55% depending on the tone and intonation of the voice and body language (Fogel, 2017). This model emphasizes the importance of non-verbal cues and is essential in the study of emotional intelligence. Self-control over the tone of voice, own gestures, and facial expressions can be determinative in the context of a negotiation. An impression made on a client can affect a professional’s reputation.
Both communication models are fundamental in the competence of the profession. Lasswell’s model allows to build verbal communication, phrase structures, audience, and desired effect, while the Mehrabian model reminds of the importance of non-verbal communication. Only in combination can both of these models have a substantial effect in developing the skills of a labor relations specialist.
When planning a communication, it is always necessary to keep the Lasswell model’s questions, which allows determining the goal, the desired effect, and the context of the audience. It is impossible to prepare for all questions and problems, but the proactive nature of planning allows the specialist to feel much more confident in the dialogue. With proper accounting of their resources, elaboration of undesirable scenarios, and proper control over themselves and assessing the resulting plan, the specialist saves time for himself and the client (Bütschi, 2018). In addition, this profession still implies some templates of the most common problems and negotiations, which will allow a specialist with a plan to maintain and demonstrate his communication style, image, and high qualifications.
Determining the audience is also critical. Firstly, there are already several groups into which it is customary to divide people to correct their contact with them. This group includes geographic, demographic, health, employment, attitudes, and behavior (Hancock, 2021). Accordingly, a message is formed with these factors, which must be conveyed to the client by a specialist. Planning, in this case, will allow avoiding conflicts based on non-work aspects.
Paraphrasing and summarizing are essential skills for any person whose profession requires effective communication. Since the labor relations specialist is the guide of the employer and the worker in the complex aspects of negotiation and contracting, his duties include explaining the essence of the issue in an accessible language to the interested client. The client always receives only a short and understandable excerpt from the entire intellectual specialist’s activity on the issue raised (Patell et al., 2018). Passing information from one side to another, the specialist constantly trains in understanding, emotional intelligence, finding a goal in voiced phrases, and reducing information to a short but succinct message.
Change management is the transfer of a person or an entire work collective from one state to another, better one. The most telling example is Kotter’s 8 Steps model of how, through urgency, a strong coalition and a vision for change, move to a new corporate culture and consolidate success (Kotter, 1995). In communication, this aspect can be represented as a new state of the client, into which the specialist introduces him. It is not necessary that with the help of manipulations, the specialist imposes his point of view – instead, he provides him with the necessary knowledge, with the help of which the client can make a choice or come to a decision. Any changes are dictated by the desire to change the current situation, the vision of the future situation, and concrete steps towards this. It is the responsibility of the labor relations specialist to provide the client with a vision of any situation through these three points.
Both the specialist and the client must apply a value-based approach in addition to business interests. The trusting relationship that will develop already at the stage of negotiations between the employer and the worker applying for the vacancy will contribute to the loyalty and involvement of both parties in the future work process (Marin, 2020). The collective agreement itself is a product of the legal and legislative activity, in connection with which it regulates the rights and obligations of both parties. In this regard, negotiations are the most crucial part, laying the foundation for the future. The specialist must separate people from the problem, consider their interests, not positions, offer solutions and evaluation criteria (Fisher et al., 2011). A specialist will be able to find a compromise even in the most challenging situation using these tools.
Getting effective feedback is an essential element on the path to success in any business. However, the feedback does not always evoke an adequate reaction in the criticized person. It is essential for the professional to constantly manage the reaction, keep in mind the critical reasons for the message, and postpone the meeting (Su, 2018). In addition, the instrument of action in cases of protection or crying on the part of a person must adhere to calmness and direct questions if a person avoids or adopts a position that does not allow him to open up. It is needed to adhere to all of the above communication tools in an adequate response, guided by good intentions, patience, and calmness.
The ability for active listening and questioning speaks of a person’s attention in the process of communication. If a specialist or client is not distracted by environmental factors, does not constantly mentally prepare a refutation, and does not think, then there is every chance to establish effective communication. Body language and non-verbal cues, in this case, best show a person’s predisposition to the interlocutor (Rogers & Farson, 2021). Such signs immediately cause a response; therefore, in a specialist who values his reputation, this is a critical point. Openness and honesty in answers, as in non-verbal behavior, will quickly find a response in the client, primarily if the client’s speech is supported by approving nods and questions after each completed point of view.
Conflict resolution is one of the most responsible and complex components of the labor relations specialist’s duties. Specialist conflict management tools include several approaches. First, the initial impression of a specialist can be a warning in nature about acceptable behavior during business meetings, which can often and should be pronounced at the first meeting. Secondly, a specialist should not avoid conflicts but should also enter into them with the utmost respect for the interlocutor, so it is often recommended to start a dialogue with a compliment, which in turn should be honest (Menkel-Meadow, 2017). Third, a neutral location can help maintain calm during dialogue, leading to a decrease in the tone of dialogue, seeking opportunities and recommendations instead of decisions or punishments. Determination and self-confidence in dialogue should not escalate into intimidation and an unshakable point of view – it is always necessary to think critically and not jump to conclusions.
Communicating with the public from more than one person is also necessary for a trade relations professional. A company with a high level of engagement and loyalty can negotiate as a group, in connection with which the specialist will need to give a presentation and prepare an appropriate speech. Public speaking requires a loud, firm voice with the ability to control intonation. Moreover, gesticulation is essential but good in moderation. Much research also looks at group communication, where there is no single speaker, and everyone is on an equal footing. In this case, an important place is given to the categories of roles and communication strategies that influence behavioral interaction (Dowell et al., 2019). The specialist must be ready for any negotiations, not only one-on-one but also for formal speeches and for defending the client’s interests in front of many people.
Thus, in this paper, a toolkit contains the fundamental foundations of communication skills in various situations, which are necessary for a specialist in labor relations. Starting with basic models and ending with group conversations, a classification was made of the essential abilities and the necessary recommendations in each case. This manual can be used by people of different professions, whose responsibilities are related to communication both within the work and with clients. Following these guidelines leads to respect and value within the corporate culture, reinforcing its good manners.
Bütschi, G. (2018). Communication Planning. The International Encyclopedia of Strategic Communication, 1-11.
Dolzhenkova, E., Mokhorov, D., & Baranova, T. (2021). Problems of sustainable implementation of the communication mechanism in the digital environment. In E3S Web of Conferences (Vol. 258, p. 07054). EDP Sciences.
Dowell, N. M., Nixon, T. M., & Graesser, A. C. (2019). Group communication analysis: A computational linguistics approach for detecting sociocognitive roles in multiparty interactions. Behavior Research Methods, 51(3), 1007-1041.
Fisher, R., Ury, W. L., & Patton, B. (2011). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. Penguin.
Fogel, A. (2017). Two principles of communication: Co-regulation and framing. In New perspectives in early communicative development (pp. 9-22). Routledge.
Hancock, A. (2021). Communication Planning Recalled. In Learning from Communicators in Social Change (pp. 59-70). Springer, Singapore.
Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Routledge.
Marin, F. (2020). Collective Agreement-A Tool for Strengthening Public Policies in the Area of Social Responsibility. Business Excellence and Management, 10(1), 41-60.
Menkel-Meadow, C. (2017). Dispute processing and conflict resolution: theory, practice and policy. Routledge.
Patell, R., Gutierrez, A., Lee, N., & Neuendorf, K. (2018). Practicing communication skills for responding to emotionally charged questions. Journal of Palliative Care, 33(4), 209-214.
Rogers, C., & Farson, R. (2021). Active listening. Mockingbird Press LLC.
Su, A. J. (2018). How to Give Feedback to People Who Cry, Yell, or Get Defensive. SHRM. Web.
Sycheva, I. N., Akhmetshin, E. M., Dunets, A. N., Svistula, I. A., Panteleeva, T. A., & Potashova, I. Y. (2018). Labour relations in research of socio-economic systems. European Research Studies Journal, 21(4), 53-59.