Laboratory Dynamics and Communication

Module 3: Laboratory Dynamics and Communication

Contrary to the popular media image of the lone scientist working in the lab late into the night, most scientists do not work in isolation. The lab is a dynamic workplace with teams of individuals, and, as manager, you will spend a large amount of time dealing with the interpersonal and social dynamics of your teams.

Your success as a manager will depend on your ability to understand and manage interactions in the lab. An awareness of the different types of communication and the cultural issues that can arise in workplace exchanges will help you not only to communicate more effectively with the members of your lab, but to identify and mitigate communication problems among employees, managers, organizations and industries, and cultures. In this module, we will discuss many aspects of open communication and conflict resolution.

Outcomes and Objectives

Course Learning Outcomes Addressed in this Module

· foster effective laboratory communication and problem-solving using various approaches

Module 3 Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you should be able to

· identify the components of effective communication

· effectively use oral, written, and electronic communication in the lab

· identify common types of conflicts and warning signs of conflict

· describe the steps of conflict resolution



Section 1. The Importance of Effective Communication Section 2. Oral Communication in the Lab Environment Section 3. Written and Electronic Communication in the Lab Environment Section 4. Communication Channels in the Lab Environment Section 5. Summary


Section 1. The Importance of Effective Communication

Effective communication is the most important skill a manager can develop. In assessing our capacity to communicate, most of us rate our own communication skills as above average. Our coworkers, however, generally rate our skills as below average (Flauto, 1999). Narrowing the gap between these two perceptions is one goal of effective communication. If you fail, for example, to convey that samples need to be placed in the freezer, you could jeopardize an entire week’s worth of work. Remembering to communicate this information, and knowing how and to whom to communicate it, ensures a smooth workflow and unperturbed lab members.

Communication is a cyclic process (see figure 3.1) involving a person sending a message (sender) and a person receiving the message (receiver). Psychologist Carl Rogers holds that the receiver needs to be able to extract the full, uncensored content of the message from the sender without any prejudices, biases, or assumptions getting in the way. He refers to this process as nondirective listening, arguing that listening is as important as sending the message in a communication exchange.

Figure 3.1 The Communication Process

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