Many years ago, when I was first learning to drive, my Father gave me some very wise advice. He said – act as if all drivers are idiots. What he meant by this was not to treat them as idiots but rather to imagine that they may do idiotic things.
The purpose of this was to make sure that I was alert and therefore would not have an accident because of someone else’s poor driving. An analogy can be drawn as far as communication is concerned. I am not for one moment suggesting that you treat people as idiots, rather you pay a lot of attention to what you are saying and how you are saying it to make it easy for the listener to understand. In this way, you will avoid people misunderstanding what you said, which may lead to problems.
Clients have frequently told me of problems which have occurred either with their clients, suppliers or staff, simply because of poor communication. All of this can be avoided when we communicate effectively.
3 factors at play
Communication has been derived from the Latin word “communicare” meaning to share. So it’s always a two-way process with a speaker and listener/s and cannot be deemed effective until the message has been received and understood. During the transmission of a spoken message, there will be three aspects occurring simultaneously.
- The words which are spoken
- The vocal communication which includes tone of voice, pace, volume and pitch and
- Body language including gestures, facial expression, posture, eye contact and feelings.
It’s really important to say what you mean, mean what you say and show what you mean so that all three forms of communication are in alignment with one another. Otherwise, people have a tendency to believe what they see over what they hear and believe the tone of voice over the words.
5 steps to effective communication
So what do we need to do to make sure that we always communicate effectively?
- Always take the time to communicate properly. Do not rush.
- Think about what you want to say and choose language appropriate to your listeners.
- Think about how you can deliver your message in terms of the vocal communication and body language so that your listener/s is/are able to receive and understand it.
- Check their understanding by asking for feedback.
- Confirm in writing. This one simple step will save you much time, money and stress.
So don’t be a dictator – be a communicator!