“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that is has taken place”.
George Bernard Shaw’s quote rings even more true today, considering the problems many organisations and businesses are faced with as a result of poor communication. Despite the ever-increasing technical tools that are thrown on the market to aid the exchange of information; despite making it easier and faster to communicate, messages do not always achieve what they were sent out to accomplish. Why?
Communication is an interaction that is much more complex than it appears to be …
Depending on the format, whether it’s delivered through visuals, speech or writing, and depending on the receiver, be it an individual or a group – your communication needs to resonate with your target audience to be effective. It should not come as a surprise that great communicators are also successful leaders. Their abilities and skills to read a person or a group, to understand their issues and values, and to sense the moods, dynamics and attitudes present in their environment, enable them to reach out to their audience and get the message across. It pays off to study the art of communication a little closer.
The availability of skills and knowledge are crucial for every business, but what good are they, if they are not applied as needed because of poor communication? There are a few key principles that, once utilised, can contribute considerably in making the exchange of information truly efficient.
Not everyone speaks the “same language”
A good start is to look at the difference in communication styles. It helps you tailor your message for maximum impact and also provides you with an insight of how others perceive you. Communication styles can vary depending on individuals and their backgrounds, and on organisational cultures. You might find a “tell it like it is” approach in some companies, while others highly value the preservation of a harmonious environment. Understanding gender differences in business communication is another crucial skill male and female professionals will benefit from in achieving their goals. And then there is the aspect of time.
In the age of information overload, it is all about clear, concise messages
Using simple, straightforward statements, avoiding wordy expressions, longwinded sentences and repetitions is a given. But what about the delivery format of your message? It might be the easiest and fastest way, but is an email really the best way to get your point across? A more complex problem, or a sensitive issue probably has a higher chance of success if addressed during a phone conversation or in a short meeting. The written word simply cannot relate the fine nuances of tone and body language in a way a personal conversation can.
In meetings or at presentations, a well-put-together, informative, engaging message will get you the attention and focus you need to make an impression. Be specific, take the values and feelings of your audience into consideration and practice active listening.
As Peter Drucker said “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said”.