by Thandie Balfour
It is widely accepted that the biggest challenge in many relationships is lack of communication. Many of the ills in society and even in our boardrooms can be attributed to poor communication. But you may ask, what do we mean by communication? People talk all the time so how can communication be a problem?
The challenge is not that we don’t talk but that in our talking we do not communicate clearly.
Communication is defined as the ‘two way process of sharing information to reach mutual understanding’. Therefore communication is more than just talking, most importantly it is about ensuring that there is common understanding of what is being shared. This means that we need to ensure that there is clarity every time we communicate. We need to make sure that the message sent has been received and understood as intended.
The responsibility of ensuring clarity lies on both the sender and the receiver of the message.
The responsibilities of the message sender:
It is important that the speaker pronounces and expresses the words used in a clear manner to minimise misunderstanding. This is especially important if the people involved speak different languages, articulation ensures that there is common understanding.
People need to ensure that the voice reaches the intended recipients, this means no mumbling or unnecessary shouting. The quality of the voice is just as important and the speaker needs to ensure that it does not take away from the intended message.
Checking for understanding
Clarity is ensured by simply asking if the listener has not only heard but has understood the intended message. This step may seem unnecessary but it ensures that we avoid assumptions and accept that our communication may not be as clear as we believe.
The responsibilities of the message receiver:
Many people are not able to fully focus on the message intended as they have many competing interests in their minds. This means active listening i.e. listening to the words shared, watching the body language and listening to the emotions as well.
Many people are not comfortable in asking questions as they fear appearing ignorant and yet it is the very questions which will ensure that the message is received as intended.
Repeating what the person has just said, in one’s own words, is another great way of ensuring that the message has been received as intended. It is the responsibility of the receiver to make sure that they can repeat what they have heard and are able to use their own words.
Creating and ensuring clarity is crucial when one is running a training workshop. The purpose of any training is to make sure that the content being shared is well understood by the delegates. The success of any training workshop is determined by whether communication has been good and there has been clarity.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
- George Bernard Shaw