The phrase ?effective communication,? or some variation of it, is used a lot, but what does it really mean?
We probably have all experienced the opposite outcome, when communication is most definitely not effective. Think about the last time you had to send several emails back and forth, simply to clarify a single statement or the perceived tone in the first one. ?What did you mean by that?? ?Can you provide more details?? ?Are you mad??
You might have even experienced a total breakdown in communication, when the proverbial left hand didn?t even know the right hand existed, let alone talked to it.
So how do we communicate effectively?
Think about who is on the receiving end! Think about what your message needs to say, how it will be received, and how it needs to be transmitted. Yes, it?s just that simple. However, the simplicity can be deceiving. Communicating effectively takes time and forethought.
Those emails dashed off without thinking ? and without proofreading ? are the ones that will require even more time to clarify. Stop to consider the receiver. Is email the best tool to use for that particular message or that particular recipient? An email sent to a member of one of the youngest generations or one of the oldest generations may not even be read. Would a text or a (gasp!) phone call be more effective?
How do you know when your communication efforts have been effective? When you get a response! When your recipient acknowledges that he or she has received the message and ? this is the most important part ? understands clearly what the message says. Just as there is no crying in baseball, there are no misinterpretations or misunderstandings in effective communication.
So, once again, stop and think. Is this a situation that requires you to let others know what is going on? What message do you need to send? Why is it necessary? What is the tool that is used most often by the person you are trying to reach? Is the message urgent? How will the receiver interpret the message? How can you convey specific, clear meaning in written or spoken words?
Think about how you act as the receiver of a message. When someone says something to you face-to-face, you can read their expressions and hear the tone of their voice. When you receive a written message, you don?t have any of that to use as clues for hidden meanings.
The look and feel of effective communication is all too often elusive. Isn?t that a little silly? Shouldn?t we be trying to be as clear as possible when we are communicating? You can make it so. Take the time to consider your recipient and put together the words in a form that makes sense.
Spend more time being clear at the beginning and you?ll spend less time clarifying and correcting misunderstandings in the end.