As a communications professional, one key trait which you are expected to possess and hone over time is clarity of communication. But, it is one of the toughest thing to achieve in any mode of communication, because the background and context of a sender versus receiver, plus the surrounding noise, internal (personal) and external (environmental) may wary drastically. Background and context is further dependent on personal and organisational factors and biases like an individual’s education, exposure, interest in the subject, and so on and in case of an organisation, its values, ethos, culture have a direct impact on level of perception and interpretation.
Just stand up and look around, I am sure you don’t find a single person who looks like you. That is the diversity of creation. Now imagine, how different would these individuals be on the inside and therefore expecting everyone to have similar levels of perceptive abilities is unrealistic. And this difference is what makes it difficult for us to communicate with people. What works for you, may not work for someone else, and there is merit in acknowledge and understanding this fact. If embracing diversity becomes the starting point of a conversation, half the stress arising from team management, client conversations and media interactions would come down.
While there isn’t any one mantra for effective communication and it is a skill which is acquired and refined over time, there can sure be some guiding principles which can help us bring more clarity in our ways of interaction. Remember two key words ‘Intention and Impact’ – Whenever a person communicates, she/he has a certain intent in mind and that intent is to create a certain impact on your audience to generate a specific response or action. For example, during a pitch presentation, you tell a prospective client that ‘Our organisation was founded in the year 1964’ – Now, you want them to think ‘Heritage’, but they might think ‘Why are you telling me how old you are?’, similarly in a team meeting, you tell your team that you want them to share their daily task list by 10:30am every morning. In this scenario, you think ‘planning and order’, but they might think of it as ‘Why does she/he need to exercise authority and govern my day?’
So, how do we know that our intent is translating into desired impact and thereby generating desired results like an impressed and happy client and a motivated and inspired team? The answer to this is fairly simple and very effective – ‘ask for feedback’. It is essential to seek feedback and take it constructively, to identify and acknowledge gap areas and work on them. To begin with, a simple exercise could be to identify someone you trust and ask them for their opinion on the impact you create when you communicate. Ask what is good and what can be bettered and act on gap areas. Effective communication is a lot about an open mind which wants to learn and grow. Hope they hear, perceive and understand what you say, the way you want next time.
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