Life, Leadership and Business

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Effective Communication

Personal Development Skill: Effective Communication

We communicate, all the time. Using various mediums, messages travel back and forward between people at an incredible rate.
Communication generates an incredible amount of data daily. Why then is effective communication so illusive?

As with most things in business, communication
is a skill that follows a process, examples of which are abundantly available on the internet. Most people are aware of the most common option: Sender creates a message for the Receiver whom responds with feedback and this process continues repeatedly until the Receiver has the same message as intended by the Sender.

Here are 5 key tips that will get you the consistent success in communication:

1.      Take Responsibility as the Sender

The success of the outcome of any communication depends on the person (the sender or the communicator) that designs the message. If the concept or idea is in your head, you must assume the responsibility to clearly and carefully explain it in order to get your message across. If the results are not what you desired, the person you communicated to is not to blame for a lack of understanding; you must carry the blame for a lack of communication.

Emotions often run high when an instruction is carried out incorrectly. Once you assume responsibility for the outcome, those emotions will be directed at yourself. It is amazing how ‘understanding’ one can become.

2.      Use as many mediums to communicate as possible

In an exercise during training, a group of people go through the motions of exploring all the different medium options for communicating, whether it is words, body language, written or oral, etc. Years of conducting the exercise has revealed that without exception, people decide on using many mediums to communicate the message as effectively as possible.

To ensure understanding use a multi-strategy approach. Use spoken word, use body language and use pictures or some written medium to support your speech. We all use our five physical senses to understand the world around us. “Speak” to as many of the senses as possible when sharing your message, as this will provide a better understanding.
3.      Ask for feedback

Once you have delivered your message, don’t assume that the person that received your message understood. In the communication model the Receiver provides feedback. What the model doesn’t state is that feedback should be on the request of the Sender.

Ask people for feedback. Ask them to explain your message back to you. In that way they consolidate the message they heard and understood and you have the assurance that they got the message you intended.

Make corrections if required, after which get feedback to ensure the message was understood.
4.      Detail Expectations

Put detail in what your expectations are for the end result. Use words that will define what you see, what you hear and what you feel. Describe the outcome as clearly as possible and people will work smarter to achieve the “picture” you communicated.

5.      Spend the time the first time

It is amazing when people don’t have time to do the job correctly the first time around, but they always have time to repeat the job a second time. This applies to communicating. People (often leaders and managers) feel they don’t have enough time in order to correctly and intensively communicate their intentions and expectations to followers or employees. Yet when the outcome is not the desired result, the same busy leader or manager will either take more time to explain everything again or failing that they just take over the task themselves.

How often have your heard managers or entrepreneurs say that they do the job themselves, because no one else can be trusted. This is not a sign of poor workmanship or a lack of ownership on the employee’s part. This is more a result of the manager’s inability to communicate correctly.  

Spend the time to communicate in detail and fully explain your message. It will save you time, effort and frustration down the line.

Twenty years of training has taught me that knowledge does not guarantee success when it comes to communication. This is a skill likened to a plant that needs time, attention and dedication to make it flourish. Communication needs to be fed and nurtured in order for it to mature. Practise makes perfect.

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