Part 1 of 2
The whole purpose of communication is to lead to a better understanding between two or more parties. A conversation or presentation that those not result in understanding is unproductive. This, in turn, leads to even more misunderstanding, resentment, and dissonance.
There are many barriers to effective communication, and these barriers must be bridged in order to reach understanding. Some of these barriers involve lack of proper preparation, failure to see the need to communicate clearly, complacency in the delivery of the message, lack of empathy toward one or both parties, prejudice, feeling of superiority, and impatience.
Effective communication includes both skills and attitudes. Skills include proper articulation, eye contact, listening, paraphrasing. Attitudes encompass empathy, rapport, and basic respect for the other person.
When communication problems arise, there often is a disturbing tendency to blame the other party instead of focusing on our own responsibility to establish the necessary criteria for understanding.
There is a strong connection between successful communication and respectful cooperation. When there is mutual respect, guidelines and techniques for communication are less important because the parties will have a strong desire to create mutual understanding. But, when this is lacking, even a command of the best techniques of communication will not help bring about understanding. This is not to say that techniques are not necessary. It is important to master them, but at the same time to remember that creating a cooperative and open environment is essential.
Effective communication is as much the result of a positive attitude to communication as it is of methods and techniques. Communication effectiveness is dependent on three main factors that can be broken down as follows:
a. Seven percent (7%) depends on the words we use.
b. Thirty-eight percent (38%) depends on our tone of voice.
c. A fully fifty-five percent (55%) depends on non-verbal body language and physical gestures.
The surprising realization for most people when looking at the three factors of effective communication is the predominance of body language. We often spend most of our time on the text of our presentation and totally forget about assuring that our tone and body gestures have the desired effect on the listeners.
Voice modulation is an important part of the delivery. There is nothing less attention destroying than a presentation delivered in an awkward monotone. You do not want to put an audience of one or more individuals to sleep. Raise and lower your voice to suit the contents of the text. This is not difficult to do, just pick out the passages that you really want the listeners to fully grasp and both slow down and raise the volume slightly. This is true if you are speaking to a larger audience at a company meeting or to just one subordinate.
Understanding the enormous consequences of body language should be a huge motivation to improve this element of communication. Standing or sitting in a straight but not rigid position, making confident but not overbearing eye-contact, preventing yourself from showing the outward signs of discomfort such as sweating or fidgeting, can be readily mastered. Become aware of your own body language traits and work on correcting them by practicing in front of a mirror or a friend who can provide immediate feedback.
Effective Communication Strategies
The skills part of effective communications can be broken down into five basic factors. The more you understand and practice these techniques, the more skilled you become.
However, you also must be always aware of the emotional backdrop and make certain that it is advantageous to the communication process. Your personal approach should be positive and seek the best possible outcome for both parties, as well as the organization.
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