Improve your communication skills
with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.
James Manktelow: Hello, I'm James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com, home to hundreds of free, career-boosting tools and resources.
Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools.
Good communication skills are often cited as the most important factor that companies look for when they're choosing managers.
But many people struggle with their communication.
And, when people can't communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively within their team, then productivity, and often morale, goes down.
JM: This is why it's so important to understand the communication process, and the problems that can crop up at every stage within it.
When you fully understand the unique stages of communication, you can present your thoughts and ideas in a clear, meaningful way. You can also avoid miscommunication.
AC: There are five key elements to the Communication Process - the source, encoding, the channel, de-coding, and, the receiver.
It's important to consider each element whenever you craft a written or verbal message.
Doing this will help you to ensure that your recipient can clearly understand your thoughts and ideas.
JM: First, consider the source. As the primary communicator of the message, this is you.
Here, you need to be clear about why you're communicating, and what you want to communicate.
You also need to be confident that the information you're communicating is useful and accurate.
AC: The next stage is encoding. This is how you put the information into a form that can be received by somebody else.
In this stage, you'll want to make sure that the information you're presenting is clear and can be understood easily.
Look over your information carefully here. Are there any sentences or ideas that could be misunderstood by your audience?
Are there any words or phrases that won't translate effectively due to cultural differences?
JM: Once you've considered the information that you want to communicate, examine the channel that you're going to use to present this information.
Every communication channel has different strengths and weaknesses, so make sure that the information you're presenting fits well with the channel you choose.
For instance, offering constructive criticism is probably best done verbally, because the person will be able to hear your tone, and see your body language. This will reinforce your message.
You'll also be able to see how they react, and adjust your message accordingly.
However, you won't be able to do this if you present that same feedback through email, meaning that you have no opportunity to correct any misunderstanding.
AC: Once you've chosen the correct channel, the other person must decode the message successfully.
So you'll want to go over your final message to make sure that it will be understood clearly when it's heard or read.
JM: Finally, you need to consider who is going to be receiving your message. How are they likely to respond to what you have to say?
Where possible, get feedback from your audience to make sure that you've communicated your message effectively.
AC: While you're preparing your communication, also make sure that you consider its overall context.
For example, what is the receiver already likely to know and think about what you're communicating?
JM: Understanding this process helps you fine-tune your communication so that your message is clear and effective.
And because you're looking at your communication from several different angles, you can often spot problems that you might otherwise have missed.
You can find out more about Communication Skills in the article that accompanies this video.