Communication is such an important word, often used, misused and misunderstood, confused and when done effectively, inspires, uplifts, generates and unlocks enthusiasm and self belief. How we choose to communicate our challenges or successes fundamentally shapes our everyday experiences, takes us forward or back, builds or breaks down.
An example. A few Sunday's ago I was standing in the queue at a local supermarket. As you are aware, many modern superstores have a channel created to move customers along. These channels are often aligned with all sorts of delicacies and distractions, which are meant to tempt you into placing them in your shopping basket. Whilst in the queue, a teenager approached her mom and stated that the store did not have the commodity she was looking for and its a %#£€% disgrace. Fellow shoppers stood mortified at the verbal tirade that followed. It left me asking where she learnt to communicate in this way and with such ease in a public area? And why did she think swearing was the best way to communicate her dissatisfaction at not getting the item she was looking for?
We all find ourselves in scenarios day-to-day that test our nerve and patience. A number of models have been developed to simplify and summarise the complex reality of the communication process and to aid our understanding. A communications handbook commissioned by Making Practice Based Learning Work project from University of Ulster, leans on The ‘Typical Communication Model’ developed by Clampitt (2005) which demonstrates a number of key elements in the communication process. The primary drivers are listed below:
Sending The Message: Messages are the signals and symbols that we use to convey what we want to transmit. They can occur in various ways, including visual (non-verbal, written), auditory (verbal and sub-vocal speech), tactile (touch, bodily contact) and olfactory (perfumes, aftershaves) formats.
The Channel: In Clampitt’s (2005) model, this refers to the means used to deliver messages and the related formats. Means used to communicate can include face to face, telephone, pager, written, radio and video communication. In face to face communication, which is most often preferred for communication of more important matters, communication occurs through visual, auditory and olfactory formats, while the tactile medium may or may not be used. Skilled communicators will choose the channel most appropriate to the specific goals sought at that time.
Receiving the Message: For effective communication to take place, the message must be accurately decoded and reconstructed by the receiver. However, even if the "encoding" is carried out very well; this in itself does not ensure that it will be "decoded" accurately. The meaning ascribed to the message may vary according to the person doing the interpreting, the context in which the message was given and the total information communicated
Feedback: Feedback comprises both the verbal and non-verbal messages of others, and allows us to evaluate how the message has been understood and the response to it. Actively listening to feedback is a key skill in effective communication.
Context: A significant point to note is that communication is inextricably linked to the particular context in which it occurs, which in turn has a major impact upon behaviour. Clampitt (2005 p.36) notes that ‘context basically functions as the background, For example, the statement ‘I’ve got a bug’, may be interpreted differently when it is used in a conversation between two software engineers, compared to when it is spoken by a sneezing colleague. (Clampitt 2005).
It suggests to staff that paying attention to these big levers will make communication more effective in an organisation. What do you think? Do leave a comment.