Understanding Communication Skills
Get your message across clearly and effectively.
Research shows that good communication skills are a big factor in job success. But many people struggle with them.
Your thoughts and ideas can be misinterpreted if you can't express yourself clearly, whether verbally or in writing. And not knowing your audience well enough can cause confusion too. You'll have wasted your effort, and missed an opportunity to get your message across. That's why it's so important to understand how good communication works, and the barriers that can get in its way.
The communication process has five key elements – the source, encoding, the channel, decoding, and the receiver. Your goal is to make each element work as well as you can.
First, consider the source. This is you! You need to be clear about why you're communicating, and what message you want to convey. You must also be confident that your information is accurate, and useful to your audience.
The next stage is encoding, which means putting your message into the right style and format for your audience to understand it easily. Look over your message carefully. Get rid of any jargon or local expressions that might confuse people. Check for missing information.
Next, examine the channel you're going to use, such as a face-to-face meeting, phone call, email, or report. Every communication channel has different strengths and weaknesses, so make sure you use the one that fits your message best. For instance, constructive criticism is probably best given face-to-face, so the person can hear your tone and see your body language. You'll also likely gauge the recipient's reaction, and adjust your delivery accordingly.
Next, decoding is the process of reading or listening to a message, and getting meaning from it. Your audience will likely decode your message more accurately if, as you encoded it, you considered what they might already know about the subject.
Finally, you need to consider the receiver of your message and the context they'll receive it in. How will they likely respond?
People bring their own situations, ideas and feelings to your message, and these will influence their understanding of it. Pay close attention to the feedback you get from your audience, so you can check for and clarify any misunderstandings.
Understand these five parts of the communication process and you'll be able to fine-tune your approach, so that your message is clear and effective.
You can find out more about Communication Skills in the article that accompanies this video.