Tips on Effective Communication
Posted by Zura on June 24, 2008
The success of an employee lies not only in his professionalism and hard work, but also his personal network and contacts with others. Despite advancement in information technology, communication skills mastered by employee remains the core element for effective transmission of information.
In daily life, especially in interpersonal conversation, communication breakdown often causes misunderstanding and misconception among people. It is rather surprising that communication breakdown is seldom caused by cultural or language differences. Some of us do find difficulty communicating to our superiors and subordinates who obviously speak the same language and share the same culture like we do. Nevertheless, effective communication does take place within peer group and between close friends, where mutual understanding and willingness to listen form a vital part of the communication process.
Here are tips to overcome the problem of communication breakdown:
* Message, not messenger.
Sometimes we tend to have a preconceived opinion about someone before we truly understand the messages conveyed by that person. If we areprejudiced towards a colleague, we are quite unlikely to listen to his message with full attention and magnanimity. Besides personal preference, we often judge our messenger by his appropriate manner and attitude, his outer appearance, facial expression and even body language. Since all these could also affect our acceptance of his message, we should be remind ourselves that message, and not messenger, is the reason for communication.
* Context, not just text.
Problems, events and occurrence happen by cause and effect, rather than in isolation. There are causal relationships between one problem with another, one event with another. If we concentrate on just the text, say, flexible working hours suggested by the employer which request all staff to come to work either early morning or just before noon, we will not be able to appreciate the context, say, his genuine intention to help his staff avoid traffic congestion to and from work. It is therefore important to ask “why do you say that?” as we want to know not just how people think, but also why they think so.
* Listen first, evaluate later
We should all try to understand the messenger’s viewpoint, interpret his stand or needs, rephrase what he has just said, ask him questions, clear our doubts before evaluating his point of view. Evaluation can be made after the conversation ends if no urgent decision is needed. Do not prompt into judgment, decision and conclusion when we are not sure about what has been said.
* Written, not necessarily oral
People with an emotional personality, or those who hardly listen carefully to others are difficult to communicative with verbally. It is therefore advisable to write them a memo or a letter before any conversation. People who can express themselves better in writing than in oral should also use this method to minimize mistakes.
* Get wired
Use simple, precise language to convey message so that it can be understood without much effort. Jargons and formal language create distance rather than closeness among those who communicate. One the other hand, when both parties are not communicating on the same ground, they’ll probably talk to one another without getting wired. The effect for such simultaneous monologue is, unfortunately, zero.
* Get feedback
The sending of messages is only the first step in the communication process. Employer and superior should encourage feedback to their order or instruction. Feedback helps to correct what is wrong, and affirm what is right. What’s more, it also eradicates complaints, rumors and excuses for not being able to deliver promises.
* Mutual trust and respect
Two persons who communicate with mutual trust and respect will find themselves less defensive about own ideas and therefore truly “communicating”. This makes their conversation more interactive, dynamic and effective. Messages are fully understood because the messengers are almost equally sincere in exchanging ideas.
* Level of communicators
We are aware of the difference between the ways we speak to our superior and our subordinate. In bottom-up communication, it is advisable that we make our points clear and precise, and pay attention to the superior’s comment. As for top-down communication, we should always describe matters in detail while not forgetting to obtain feedback to our ideas.