Tuesday, 26 November 2013

6 Ways to Communicate Effectively

Communication is a marvelous thing. 

It is the glue that holds relationships , organization and in fact the whole world together.We share ideas, directions, goals, expectations, emotions, feelings through communication. But sadly, very few of us communicate effectively.  "Noise" interferes with the effectiveness of communication and acts as big bad barriers to communication. 

These are six ways how we can deal with the "noise" or "barriers" to keep the free flow of communication flowing effectively. 

  • Keep the physical distractions away :  How many of you have experienced this ? Your subordinate has fixed up a meeting with you. He comes in and starts talking ... the phone rings ... you answer "Yes, I have received your message.. will reply in a jiffy .." . The team member starts  again " Actually I am facing a problem ... " You say " Hmm.". and look at the email and start typing the reply .. He stops .. You do not take your eyes away from the monitor but say " Go  on .." . He says something and someone from the accounts department enters the room and puts forth some documents to be signed.... After this interruption, the subordinate again starts... You look at your watch , get up hurriedly and say... "Uh ... I am late for a meeting ... Why don't you do this ... take a jab at the problem yourself and let me know ... I am anyways there for you ... " . Next time this starts happening,  drop everything else, close the door, lean forward and pay attention to what he is saying and reciprocate.  Both of you feel good and satisfied about the effectiveness of your communication

  • KISS : Keep It Short and Simple.  Semantics play a huge role in effective communication. Suppose your are issuing a memo or  writing emails, pay close attention to your choice of words. It is much more effective to say "Send me your recommendations for consideration " rather than "I solicit your wished recommendations for the necessity of the action and after due applicability of the policy structure it will be deemed for consideration "

  • Do not let mixed messages confuse you : Sometimes during communication, the verbal words spoken and the body language contradict each other. For example, a person might say " I agree with you " but his tight fists, strained forehead and tense demeanor conveys that he does not agree with you. The body does not lie.  So look at the body language and understand his message during the communication and act accordingly.

  • Keep the Feedback flowing :  This is very important for effectiveness of  the communication.  It is the tendency of the speaker to only "tell" rather that "tell AND listen". If you are not listening, then the communication is only one way and incomplete. One best practice which I have personally followed is to summarize the main points of the conversation and repeat before ending. Similarly,  if you are the speaker, encourage questions and feedback. 

  • Avoid the "Mum Effect " : If you are at the upper end of the hierarchy in an organization,  be careful of the "mum" effect.  Usually for fear of retribution for bringing bad news, unwillingness to acknowledge mistakes, or just to please you, there is always a tendency to keep "mum" and filter vital information. This usually leads to poor decision making at the organization level due to improper communication .  It is best to work on building relationship and trust so that communication is effective and strong between the floor and the senior management.   In my previous post  hyperlink -> (30 minutes of walking around), I have elaborated on MBWA (management by walking around)

  • Choose the proper medium of communication :  Last but definitely not the least is the proper choice of medium.  Sometimes only face to face communication works, in some cases emails are more effective and in some communication town hall meetings work better. Nowadays we have so many means and mode of communication - phone, bbm, sms/text, video conferencing, email, letters ... that sometimes we are drowned in information. So, select the medium with care so that the communication is effective. 
 Do you have any more suggestions ? Do write in the comments below.