Thursday, 5 January 2012

Communication Principles: Often Talked About However Rarely Well Practiced

Communication Quick Start

A basic question: What is communication? Many will give you an answer however the definition below I believe is the best.

The shared understanding of... what has been transmitted... about what has been meant... successfully received... as confirmed by appropriate feedback. The key word is "understanding".

Communication is also:

A series of 'symbols' translated into language and gestures by the sender, which is then deciphered as a new series of 'symbols' by the receiver!... HUH! Example - It's 3pm on your first day at work whilst hammering a nail into a piece wood your boss says to you, "you work like lightening", aha you think the boss is happy I'm quick at this job, "thank you boss for the compliment" (you say), "compliment" says the boss "I'm telling you you're hopeless, like lightening you never strike in the same place twice"

Problem one - The most commonly used 2000 words in the English language can produce 14,000 possible interpretations.

Problem two - most of us have not seriously studied how we or our colleagues cope with, or understand, the factors effecting communication.

Basic factors effecting communication:

Individual differences, Cultural differences, Attitudes about the message or the other person, Stereotyping, Generalizing, Beliefs, Values, Assumptions about what the other person knows, thinks, feels or has heard, Age, Sex, Perceptions, Expectations, Emotional state of the communicators, Jargon, Differing verbal and non verbal signals, Pre-empting, Thinking about your perspective or answer or something you don't understand, Lack of feedback, Bad questioning technique or not questioning at all, Inability to summarize, Environmental noise or visual distractions, Way in which the message is sent and of course the big one, our own LISTENING abilities.

A quick guide to sending messages more effectively:

Think about what you want to communicate... organize your thoughts. Make a mental outline... (do you know any people that never get to the point?) Pick the best time to send your message: Is this the right time? What frame of mind is receiver in?... (Hey you I want to see you Monday morning.) A great way to add stress to someone's weekend. Think about where you ate going to deliver your massage: Is this the right place or is there a lot of distractions? Is more privacy required? (Your standing with colleagues and the boss says... This proposal has some serious flaws, in Para, 4.3.a. the etc., how much do you hear);What is the level of understanding tof the receiver likely to be? Consider their frame of reference, experience and needs... (Hi so you've just joined, I'm Fred from HRD, I look after MDP and HRM planning for Mobile, Fixed and MD338 production and this is Harry from finance he is our expert on DCF analysis controlling project analysis for our AXE customers)... HUH! How or by what method will you send the message? In person, by phone, letter or memo. A combination of methods... (Ever received a long set of instructions on your voice mail?)

Communicating well is central to our success both at work, with the community at large and individuals we deal with on a daily basis. Have you ever taken a communication course? Might be worth thinking about! Richard Townsend, Corporate Learning Consultant


  1. There is a great chapter on this in the book "Flying Without a Net: Turn Fear of Change into Fuel for Success" by Thomas J. DeLong; in which he explains many top performers end up making bad career decisions due to poor communication within a company.

    If this subject is of interest then definitely worth a read.


  2. Thank you Sean I'll get to looking. Yes company communication, strangled by the perceived need to control it to maintain power and of course by the spin applied by the sender. Ric