The purpose of all communication is to get across what you say to others, to make them understand of what you say precisely in the manner that you want it to be understood. So effective communication is said to have occurred if all what is conveyed is understood fully the same way it was told by the content of communication. Effective communication happens only when speech and its listening happen the way it is intended to be. The bottom line of all communication is to get your message across to others clearly and unambiguously. In fact, communication is only effective when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information in the same manner as a result of that communication.
In successful communication,
- You speak to convey your thoughts and ideas effectively.
- The person listening to you, carefully listens to understand your thoughts and ideas.
- He or she also understands it the same way as you wanted it to be understood. This process gets repeated continuously.
Ineffective communication and breakdown in communication occurs even if one or all of these three sequences is defective.
In spite of this increasing importance placed on communication skills, many individuals continue to struggle with effective communication, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively – in verbal or written mode. This inability makes it nearly impossible for them to convey and even perform adequately.
Getting your communication right is of paramount importance. To do this, you must understand what your communication is, the listener you are sending it to, and the way it will be understood.
Communication Skills and Barriers
Communication barriers can occur in every stage of the communication process, namely the sender, message, channel, receiver, feedback and context.
To be an effective communicator and to get across your communication without misunderstanding and confusion, your goal should be to lessen the frequency of these barriers at each stage of the process in a clear, concise, accurate, and well-planned method. It is better that this chain of communication is understood well. The chain comprises of:
The Sender : As the source of the message, you need to be clear about why you are messaging and what you want to message. You also need to be sure the information you are communicating is empathetic, useful and accurate.
The Message : The message is the information that you want to communicate.
Encoding : This is the process of transmitting the information you want to communicate in a form that can be sent and correctly decoded at the other end. Your success in encoding revolves partly on your ability to convey information with clarity and partly also on your ability to anticipate and eliminate any sources of confusion (for ex: cultural issues, mistaken assumptions, and missing information etc) A key part of this is knowing your listener(s). Failure to understand who you are communicating with will result in delivering messages that may be misunderstood.
The Channel : Messages are conveyed through channels, in verbal form and others including face-to-face meetings, telephone, mobile and video-conferencing and written including letters, emails, memos, reports and many others. Each of these channels has different positives and negatives. For instance, it may not be particularly effective to convey long list of procedures & directions verbally. Similarly you may create problems if you strongly criticize someone via email or SMS.
Decoding : Just like encoding, decoding is also a skill involving, for instance, taking extra time to read and understand a message carefully, or to actively listen to it. Confusion can arise with decoding too. This is particularly the case if the decoder doesn’t have enough knowledge of what is told in the message.
Receiver : Your communication gets delivered to individual members of your listeners. Also the actions and reactions you expect your message will get from the receiver must be kept in mind too. To be a successful communicator, you have to consider the receiver as well. Understanding the receiver and receiver quickly comprehending what the sender is sending and his intentions in doing so are of prime importance too.
The Feedback : Your message receivers will provide you with feedback, verbal and nonverbal reactions to your messages. You have to pay attention to the feedback, as that makes you confident that your listener has understood your message. If you know that the listener has misunderstood the message, you have the opportunity to send the message repeatedly.
The Context : The situation in which your message is delivered is the context. This may include the surrounding environment or broader culture (The corporate culture, international cultures, and so on).
Major Barriers to Effective Communication
Barriers or filters for effective communications can be encountered in any of the stages of communication, namely encoding, transmitting, decoding and responding. Following are the common barriers in relation to these:
– Lack of basic communication skills
– Lack of subject (of communication) expertise
– Low confidence level
– Insensitivity to receiver’s perceptions and empathy
– Long alternating communication links
– In appropriate medium
– Physical distortion
– Lack of knowledge
– Overload of information
– Lack of clarity and interest
– Conflicting signals
Ways to improve your communication skills
Better communication between different persons and managers in an organization or in any other community place always leads to better efficiency, as communication is indeed the life line for groups to be active and prosper. Then what are the ways and means to improve effectiveness of one’s communication skills? Some of the most effective ways are listed here:
- Think cogently and correctly before you communicate; be clear beforehand about what you communicate.
- Connect well with your communications; do not assume what they know or do not know
- In speech or written communication be direct, simple, uncomplicated and not couched in jargons and technical verbiage
- When communicating in person – in conversations and meetings, podiums and conferences – be mindful of your body language, gestures, eye contacts and smiles.
- Listening is truly the better half in communication; be attentive while you listen.With subordinates you can be a better master, with peers you can be a better colleague and with managers and masters you can be a trusted deputy if you can listen, communicate and interact with clarity, empathy, devoid of emotions and prejudice.
- Listening and listening well is key to all communication. As Mark Twain once famously said ‘If we were to talk more than listen, we would have been given two mouths and one ear’.
- Best of the communication techniques hinge on observing the most simple and basic principles of communication – lucid comprehension of what to convey and what to respond to, logical analysis and evaluation of what is communicated and finally willingness to meaningfully participate and contribute in the entire process of communication.
- Effective communication is all about empathy, sensitivity and understanding.
Techniques and Tips to enhance your Communication efficiency
– Enhance your language skills
– Improve your pronunciation and speech delivery
– Enrich your voice modulation
– Mind to adopt appropriate body language and gestures
– Hone your skills of reading, comprehension and learning
Importance and profoundness of effective communication may well be summed up in the words of Rollo May, the author of the influential book-‘Love and Will’-“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”