What is Effective Communication: Three Crucial Components of an Accurate Message
Effective communication is a two-way process that includes transmitting and receiving accurate messages. Most consultants and educators focus on the transmitting and receiving of messages and ignore the most vital component of effective communication. The most vital component of effective communication is an accurate message.
An accurate message is one that relays the exact points you wanted to make without including any clutter that might distort the message. An accurate message is also received and interpreted correctly. There are many things that can clutter a message. Some are inserted into the communication by the sender and some by the receiver. Learning the fundamentals of effective communication will help reduce clutter and enable a clearer message.
Listening is the most important component of effective communication. Effective listening is more than just understanding the words of the speaker. It is understanding the meaning and importance behind those words and how the speaker feels about topic. It is the ability to recognize the complete message by understanding the context and purpose of the message.
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To become an effective listener, you must disregard any previously formed opinions or bias towards the topic and speaker. Previously formed opinions influence your ability to listen. People holding previously formed opinions about the speaker or topic are usually expecting a certain message and will twist the speaker’s words and intentions to fit those expectations. This does not mean that you should disregard your personal view towards an issue. It just means to not let your opinions influence the true message that is being communicated.
Previously formed opinions and bias do not necessarily have to be negative. Effectively listening to someone you like is more difficult than listening to someone you don’t like. With those we don’t like, we are more apt to scrutinize their message and double check facts. We want them to be wrong so we listen intently for any flaws. While we should treat every message equally, listening to those we dislike usually results in a clearer message. We tend to accept messages from those we like without verifying the validity of the information.
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2. Managing Stress
Effective communicators are able to keep the other person engaged by eliminating stress from the conversation. There is an old saying that goes, “It is not what you say but how you say it.” Controlling the tone of the conversation greatly reduces conflict and advances effective communication. Confrontational tones and aggressive word selection can indicate you are just looking for an argument. You should approach communication from a non-personal standpoint and select your words appropriately.
It can be difficult to reduce stress when the other person disagrees with your, especially if the topic is controversial. We tend to get upset and try to convince the other person that they are wrong. Instead, accept that they disagree with you. People generally do not change their perspective based on a heated conversation or emotionally-charged presentation. Don’t let stress enter the communication process because they won’t change for you. Remain calm and professional.
3. Emotional Awareness
Most people base decisions on how they feel about the topic rather than on critical thinking. Analyze yourself to determine how you are making your decisions. Analyzing your own decision-making process will help you understand why you want to make specific points when communicating. Do you really believe this information is vital to the communication or do you just want to be right? Most communication is clutter with nonsensical comments that serve no purpose other than to inflate our already inflated egos.
Understanding how you feel about the topic will help you prepare your comments. Whether you are giving a public presentation or speaking with someone privately, recognizing your own emotional bias will help you select more effective words that will transmit a clear message instead of simply transmitting your opinion of the topic.
Effective communication is a skill that most people have yet to learn. While most people can articulate their opinions and desire effectively, they don’t communicate. Communication is a two-way process that includes effective listening, stress management and emotional awareness.
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