What is Effective Communication?

What is Effective Communication?

Organizations require effective communication in order to function well. It is communication that links an organization together. All the departments – finance, production, maintenance, personnel and marketing – depend on good communication to help them achieve their organizational goals. Efficiency, satisfied customers, new and high quality products – all ultimately depend on effective communication.

The purpose of communication is to share information between individuals or groups with a view to finding a common understanding. All too often the messages sent are only partially understood or not understood at all, creating unnecessary conflict. It is a good idea to strive toward  common understanding in order to facilitate effective communication. This then enables you to build a personal rapport with another person.

Communication always consists of a feedback loop that has two parts: 

  1. Sending the message
  2. Receiving  a response to the message

The person sending the message decides what needs to be communicated and how it will be done. The listener interprets the message, and then responds in kind, becoming the sender.  Words, tone of voice and body gestures are all approaches that serve as vehicles to carry the unspoken portion of communication.

The sender decides which tactics best convey the meaning intended. Sometimes one or more of these are employed to deliver the message, depending on the situation. Words, tone of voice and body language are all employed in face to face dialogue. Distance communication using phone or email is more restrictive where words and tone of voice alone bear the message.

When feedback is received the sender decides whether the listener has understood the intention of the message. Corrections need to be made if necessary, and the feedback loop must continue until both parties are satisfied that a mutual understanding has been achieved.

When you want to answer the question; “what is effective communication”, you need to know that we can communicate by using the following methods: 

  • Face to face
  • Telephone
  • Written
  • Computer

Face to face communication is the richest form because it utilizes all of the above approaches in sending messages. Words, body language (eye contact, posture, gestures, blush etc.), and tone of voice are all laden with meaning as ideas are sent. This is the best method to use when coaching, debating, instructing,  and checking progress because it maximizes all the communication stimuli, enabling the sender to deliver a more highly tuned message with greater acuity and precision.

Telephone conversations remove all visual cues in communication and rely solely on words and voice inflections to do the job. Thus the intensity of the communication is reduced. It is a good idea to plan telephone messages carefully, writing down the main points to be communicated, so they can be delivered with crispness, precision and efficiency. By the same token it is helpful to make notes as the message is being received.  Ask for clarification if the message is not clear.

Sometimes interactions are flooded with emotion and need to be kept in check in order to maintain emotional equilibrium in the discussion. Removing some of the communication stimuli in the conversation is one way to accomplish this goal. The telephone is a good method to use if you want to lighten the emotional exchange and still receive immediate feedback. It should not be used for discipline, evaluations or for conveying important messages.

Written communication uses only word cues when sending a message. It is devoid of tonal inflections and body language and is therefore less rich in transmission symbols. A much longer time is required for feedback as opposed to verbal dialogue where feedback is immediate. There are several benefits to written communication however. 

  • Information can be documented.
  • A concise, careful message can be constructed because information can be gathered ahead of time.
  • When done properly, writing can elicit precise emotional responses from others.

Computer technology enables us to use all the communication modes. It speeds up the feedback loop for written communication, using email or texting. The computer also permits us to use verbal messages and with web cams, enables us to add visual cues to our messages.

Each organization should consider carefully the use of technology in communication and ask themselves how its use will improve mutual understanding and performance. While the computer may increase efficiency, it has a tendency to diminish the human factor, sometimes reducing the sense of community that may be necessary to make communication systems work well.

Any organization’s effectiveness always depends on people communicating successfully with each other, building bonds of human friendship and mutual respect as they work toward a common goal. The method of communication chosen must always be considered carefully so as to enhance the human component. Clear communication is a must in establishing a creative culture with improved performance and high productivity.

What is effective communication for you? Are you willing to take on the communication challenge and reap all the benefits?

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