The impact of an individual's spirituality on communication in the workplace

Priscilla Lynne Young, University of Rhode Island


This study investigated how individuals practice spirituality in the workplace. That is, what intrapersonal communication is taking place as people think about and act upon their spirituality and how demonstration of the individual's spirituality through interpersonal communication affects his or her communication in the workplace. Ethnographies, in-depth interviews, were conducted of 20 full-time employees at the University of Rhode Island who follow a religious or spiritual practice. Ten questions were posed. Participants' responses were searched for common use of words, similar ideas, and shared meanings to discern emerging themes and then categorized. Results illustrate individuals' belief in and desire for connection. Respondents shared the view that one needs to consciously connect with a common or universal energy, force, consciousness, or God; that all people are connected through this force; and that people seek connection to one another. Study participants believe that one's religion or spirituality is central to one's life, serving as a moral compass for behavior that impacts relationships with others and one's relationship with a higher power or “source.” Participants' spontaneous communication in the workplace is not always informed by their religiosity or spirituality, though they desire that it would be. More often than not, participants' communication is mediated by a conscious decision to pause, reflect, and then respond. This mindful behavior directly relates to individuals' desire for connection with other human beings through positive, open, nonjudgmental, interpersonal communication. Such conscious behavior also relates to participants' belief that God or source is a positive force and that connection to such is the commitment to behave in a manner that is positive, loving, respectful, and inclusive of others. In seeking connection with others, individuals wish for greater understanding of others' religious or spiritual beliefs and practices. Yet, they feel uncomfortable initiating such dialogue. Concern over separation of church and state, fear of being inappropriate, recent world events and histories of misunderstanding or misinterpreting other's religions or spiritual beliefs hinder conversations on religion or spirituality at work.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Priscilla Lynne Young, "The impact of an individual's spirituality on communication in the workplace" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1491563.