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Principles of Effective Communication We Take for Granted
I have not met anyone who does not communicate with others. For one, humans are social beings and interacting with another is as natural as breathing. However, there are exceptions who’d rather keep to themselves, but even they still interact with others. Moreover, with the recent advancements in technology and the global trend in communication, it’s just difficult not to get in touch with the rest of the world.
Here are some questions to prove my point:
- How many times do you check your email?
- How Many times do you check your phone for messages?
- How many times do you check your social networking profile?
The dilemma that confronts everyone in this highly communicative world is not much about the means to communicate. Rather, the dilemma is how to communicate effectively. Whether in the work place or otherwise, human communication is riddled with inaccuracy and miscommunication.
How many times have you been given the wrong report because of failure of communication? Or how many times have you ended up arguing about something that’s entirely not worth arguing about? How many times have you been misquoted? The truth is, once is too much! Suffice to say, effective communication is a necessity from the significant to the mundane. Every instance of interaction with others must have a foundation of effective communication.
Every instance of interaction has its own goal. But when you strip everything else down to the bare essentials, effective communication simply boils down to providing accurate information. Surprisingly, this is a lot harder than you might think.
George Bernard Shaw, a critic, a playwright, an essayist and the Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1925, couldn't have said it better: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
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Encoding the information
Every idea or thought is expressed in a plethora of ways. Stripped down to its bare essentials, encoding is simply the way you package the information. From uttering words to using multi-media presentations, packaging the information can be simple or overly complicated. Furthermore, some are more appropriate than others. Effective communication entails using the right encoding method so that the recipient will understand it better. Children respond better to visual cues accompanied by verbal descriptions. On the other hand, some adults can do well with just verbally instructions. Regardless, it is important to package the information in the most effective and efficient way depending on the recipient.
The combination of verbal and non-verbal communication makes expression of information and ideas more meaningful. The words “I love you” for instance become empty without the emotion behind it. Words take on more meaning when you talk with your whole body. As such, speaking involves your whole being not just your words.
Decoding the message
At the other end of the spectrum is the person receiving the message. Deciphering the meaning behind the words is a crucial step in effective communication. But deciphering is more complex than merely reading symbols and words. In fact, it goes beyond merely listening skills. Experiences, preconceived ideas, and other factors tend to create a whole new meaning to information for each person. Because of this, the interpretation of the message may be entirely different from its initial intention.
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This is where giving feedback is imperative. By clarifying the information received, one is able to zero in on the true meaning of the information. It’s just sad that most people assume they already know the information when in fact they don’t. Unfortunately, this happens more than it should. People neglect the importance of feedback for a myriad of reasons:
- Fear of being branded as “slow to understand”
- A huge ego that interferes with effective communication
- Being satisfied with assumptions
- Time constraints
Of course each has his own reasons, but the fact remains that feedback is a crucial part of effective communication.
What’s surprising is that all these encoding, decoding and feedback happens in an instant. The way people send and receive information is truly fascinating. We do this everyday and through all sorts of ways. But somewhere along the way, information gets lost, misinterpreted or even changed.
Communicating effectively is a necessity especially in a world where communication is a daily part of lives. In the end, effective communication aims to provide accurate information. With accurate information, people can be more productive and efficient. Make no mistake about it, effective communication can make this world a better place.
- Do you think you communicate effectively?
- How do you ensure that you provide clear information?
- What measures to you take to ensure there is proper communication in the office?
- Does your office have protocols on communication?