The communication process is dynamic, and all parties need to be engaging in it fully in order for effective communication to occur. The process for effective communication is as follows: sender sends information, receiver assimilates information, receiver confirms information with sender. This is the basic structure of the communication loop that occurs in all human communication (at least on some level).
If the receiver does not give feedback as to whether he is understanding the communication, the sender will usually assume that it is taking place. This assumption of understanding on both the part of the receiver (by assuming he understood properly) and by the sender can result in miscommunication. For example, consider a conversation in which person A says to person B, "I think John may not get promoted," and person B assumes that the John in question is John Smith and not John Harris, the person to whom A was really referring. The conversation can continue for some time under a false assumption and cause major problems.
Inflexibility to even listen to another is one of the greatest problems in communication. What is even more dangerous is having the receiver pretend to listen and understand when she is not actually doing so. This again leads to false assumptions. In order for communication to occur effectively, each party must be willing to actually listen to the other party's opinion, no matter what the personal bias may be.
Keep communication short and concise. The main point of any topic should be no more than a couple sentences. Running on about the specifics can cause the receiver to lose the message. For example, the boss tells his employees, "We need to increase sales this month by 20 percent, otherwise I need to start letting people go." This is an example of clear communication. If the boss started his communication with "Economic factors have forced our shareholders to consider their investment in this company. Unfortunately, shareholders are primarily concerned with quarterly data. In the long run this is just a market fluctuation but still some measures will need to be taken to appease the shareholders." The whole message can be lost in the preamble and jargon of the communication. Know your audience members and speak to their level in simple, clear communication.
It's very important to be aware of nonverbal communication. The nonverbal signals may not register on the conscious mind of the other party, but they can impact the communication. For example, if a person says he is listening and interested but plays with his phone, looks away or seems lost in his own world, the speaker may not feel that the message is being heard.
- Direction Service: Communication Skills; Rod Windle and Suzanne Warren
- "Group Communication Pitfalls: Overcoming Barriers to an Effective Group Experience"; John O. Burtis and Dr. Paul D. Turman; 2005
- "Harvard Business Review on Effective Communication"; Chris Argyris; 1999
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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