Welcome! In my previous post, I described “10 Things We Know About Communication”. Clearly, there is a significant cost to the poor communication that is pervasive in many of our work groups, teams, and organizations. Fortunately, there are several things we can do to improve the quality of individual and organizational communication:
1. Use Multiple Channels for Organizational Communication – One of the most effective ways to ensure that people get your message is to send it across multiple channels. Some of the more effective channels include meetings, face-to-face talks, e-mail, faxes, telephone conversations, bulletins, postings, and memos. The key is to make sure you always employ multiple methods to disseminate your message, and never rely on a single channel.
2. Make Important Messages Repetitive – In addition to using multiple channels, you can improve organizational communication by repeating important messages from time to time.
3. Focus on Listening – This is vital during individual (i.e., one-on-one) communication. The biggest reason that most of us are poor listeners is that we don’t take the time to actively listen. You can do this by utilizing reflective listening skills (paraphrasing what your speaking partner has said to confirm understanding), using good nonverbal behaviors and body posture (e.g., face your communication partner with an open stance), and focusing on your partner by making a conscious effort to listen first instead of trying to get your message across first. Do this by saying to yourself, “for the next three minutes, I am only going to listen”.
4. Get Your Message Across – After you listen and fully understand your communication partner, you must make sure you can get your message across in the exact way it is intended. To do this, speak openly and honestly, and be as straightforward as possible (i.e., no “beating around the bush”); speak inclusively and use terms that will be understood and respected by a diverse array of individuals; and check for understanding to make sure your message has been received accurately.
5. Handle Communication Problems – Finally, we must become more effective at managing the communication problems that will inevitably arise during human interaction. Such problems include conflict, difficulty in resolving problems, misunderstandings, dealing with difficult people and managing cultural differences. I will address these issues in future posts.
NEXT POST – August 15, 2008:
The 3 Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication: Part 1