“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh (née Anne Spencer Morrow 1906 – 2001) American author, aviator and the spouse of fellow aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
ARE YOU THE MODEL COMMUNICATOR?
By understanding the Communication model, we can analyse and tweak our communication effectiveness. But what is “Effective Communication”? Well, as mentioned last month, it is the purposeful and successful transfer of meaning. So it is not so much what is written or said, but whether the receiver grasps the meaning of the sender’s message. So how is it that so often there is miscommunication or lack of understanding? The simple matter is that when we communicate there is a lot going on. First there is:
Distractions that prevent the message being understood. There are two types of Noise
External (mechanical) noise: e.g. engine sounds, telephone ringing
Internal (psychological) noise: e.g. appearance of the other person, still considering a previous (unrelated) problem, certain words (or people) you object to. The more this
“Noise” is reduced the better the chance of good communication.
We then form our words and message prior to delivery. This is known as:
ENCODING which is influenced by a number of factors including:
Experience: Own and that of the other party, or a similar situation not always related to the two parties.
Expectations: One party may have certain assumptions about the other party which may have been gained from previous dealings or third parties.
Culture: In certain cultures it may be appropriate to gesticulate; words may have different meanings.
Education: The message may not be understood because of technical terms used, the use of incorrect or inappropriate language.
Socio-Economic Group: It may be easier to converse with parties within a similar group because they may have similar standards, expectations and backgrounds.
Psychological State: The sender may be agitated or fearful, or happy and a multitude of other states.
The message is then sent and generally this will be through the 3Vs
These are the words which are actually said.
This is the emphasis placed upon the words to give them “colour” and expression.
That which is seen, such as clothing, hand gestures, body movement.
In any face-to-face communication it is the visual part of the message which is sent first. Try to ignore a dirty uniform, different coloured socks or broken spectacles!
When words are spoken it is the vocal element that is then noticed. If the vocal sounds annoy or detract from the meaning of the words then people react and understand less.
Since the visual and vocal parts of the message are noticed first it is important that they are in harmony with the verbal. It is important therefore to be alert to the visual and vocal characteristics that assist or detract from what is said.
But wait, there’s more.
The other party then receives the message, which they decode. And how do they decode? Yes, you’ve guessed it! By taking the words and absorbing them into their thoughts based upon the way they are delivered or perceived to be delivered. And they decode such messages based upon a number of factors including.
Given all that is going on when we communicate, there is plenty of room for error. So who are the easier people with whom to communicate? Of course, those who have similar Experience, Expectations, Culture, Education and are of a similar age and Socio-Economic Group. Little wonder then that people of the same culture and beliefs will naturally gather together as evidenced by immigrants living in particular areas, or business people residing in compounds in a foreign country.
To ensure a better chance of being understood it is important to gain feedback from the other party, which we do by LOQing on to them – Listen, Observe, Question. Once we have sent our message it is important to ask an appropriate question to enquire if they have understood our meaning. If they haven’t, then we have to find other ways to getting the message across, other than repeating ourselves in a louder or menacing tone. Ever heard “If I’ve told them once, I’ve told them a thousand times”? In which case, who’s the slow learner?
Now let’s check your understanding of this simple sentence
“I never said she stole money”
Simple message and understanding, or is it? If you read it six times and at each reading you emphasise a different word, you will get six different meanings.