Effective Communication

Human interactions are Manifold (e.g., individual-interactions, group-interactions, and state-interactions), Multi-Dimensional (e.g., social-interactions, economic-interactions, and political-interactions), and Multi-Layered (e.g., interaction with seniors, interaction with juniors, and interaction with peers). These multiple interactions may collapse any time due to some real or non-real discrepancies between participants, so that, an effective communication is required for stable interactions. An effective communication includes actively involved sender, wholehearted receiver, relevant content for communication, availability of faultless mediums/channels, and friendly time-space framework during communication process.

Various surveys and multiple research reports on institutional setup have confirmed that Ability to Communicate is the most vital and important characteristic of an entrepreneur, both economic as well as social. According to some management experts, “management is communication and communication is management”. Communication is required at all levels of institutional set-up. It is necessary for better marketing, inevitable for teambuilding, vital for stable finance generation, and essential for proper supply chain.

Communication Model

The process of communication involves seven elements:

Sender – The sender has an idea to share with someone.

Message – The sender transforms the idea into a message, message content may be relevant or irrelevant.

Channel & Medium – The sender selects message transmitting channel (spoken, written) and medium (phone, computer, letter, etc.).

Receiver – The receiver gets the message; incomplete reception is no receiving.

Interpretation – The receiver interprets the message, the most critical point of communication.

Feedback – The receiver reacts on message, positively or negatively, and sends feedback to sender.

Reaction to Feedback – The sender also reacts to receiver’s feedback.

Now, a full round of a communication cycle is complete and a new or next round of communication is started, the process goes on until some final conclusion is not reached between sender and receiver.

Effective Communication (Critical Elements)

Wiio’s Laws: Osmo Wiio inferred some communication maxims similar to Murphy’s Law:

· Communication usually fails, except by accident.
· If a message can be interpreted in several ways, it will be interpreted in a manner that maximizes the damage.
· There is always someone who knows better than you what you meant with your message .
· The more we communicate, the worse communication succeeds.
· The more important the situation is, the more probably you forget an essential thing that you remembered a moment ago.

These rules indicate some ruthless facts of communication process. These are just a few aspects of miscommunication. Miscommunication can play havoc with sender or receiver. The whole practical struggle may converge into limbo due to faulty communications. At individual levels, ties may shatter, while, at collective level, war may start among states. A minute analysis of communication process is inevitable to harness the negative consequences of miscommunications.

There are seven critical points in a communication process that may create miscommunication. There may be irrelevant idea to share, wrong transformation of idea into message, wrong selection of channel / medium, inability to understand the receiver’s level of understanding, inability to create the same mental picture in receiver’s mind, inability to understand the receiver’s reaction / response, wrong reaction of sender on feedback.

In order to avoid miscommunications between sender and receiver due to presence of critical points of a communication process, a communicator needs seven abilities / skills:

Relevance – ability to develop relevancy of idea or content with respect to time, person, and situation,

Prediction – ability to predict or calculate probable response of receiver and to shape the message accordingly,

Selection – ability to select or choose suitable channel / medium for communication,

Mapping – ability to map the same mental picture in receiver’s mind, i.e., to craft meeting of minds,

Control – ability to affect the response of receiver, a wrong interpretation of message leads, generally, towards wrong reactions. It is mindset of sender/receiver that plays a decisive role during message interpretation. A negative mindset of sender or receiver activates Wiio’s Laws.

Courtesy – to be polite & patient towards the unexpected reactions of receiver during communication process, &

Congeniality – ability to maintain future friendly relations after complete round of communication.

It is noteworthy that people lose more due to their words as compare to any thing else. God has given us two ears, two eyes, two hands, one mouth. It can be inferred that we should see, hear, and work twice than we speak. Again, ears are open, eyes are open, hands are open but tongue is caged in jaws. Open it whenever it is inevitable.

Effective Communication (Some Social Issues)

World is multi-cultural setup of interdependent individuals, modes and manners of interactions vary from culture to culture. Some Cultural Differences (e.g., dissimilar manners and different languages) are extremely important during communication. A strictly manner based communication may create misconceptions between sender and receiver. It is noteworthy that leaving eternal manners (e.g., politeness, moderate voice, religious tolerance), the all other manners (e.g., sitting style, surname, criticism style) are changed with the passage of time. A rigid approach towards communication standards is inappropriate. It is noteworthy; the purpose of manners is to make the other person comfortable. Moreover, some cultures have strong reservations about the communicative abilities of females. They consider females are less suitable for communicative-oriented tasks. A flexible approach towards cultural issues is required for effective communication.

Age Differences or Generation Gap may be another hurdle in communication. It is very important to consider the age differences during communication or interaction. A society consists of four generations:

Generation I – Age 0-20 years. It is New / Dependent Generation, i.e., Follower. The essential demand of the generation is Caring Attitude from seniors while the essential supply of the generation is Hope.
Generation II – Age 21-40 years. It is Young / Grooming Generation, i.e., Co-worker/Co-manager. The essential demand of the generation is Guiding Attitude from older generations while the essential supply of the generation is Enthusiasm.
Generation III – Age 41-60 years. It is Mature / Self-Directed Generation, i.e., leader or manager or supervisor. The essential demand of the generation is Sensible Attitude from older generation while the essential supply of the generation is Devotion.
Generation IV – Age 61 to above. It is Senior / Old Generation, i.e., Facilitators. The essential demand of the generation is Respectful Attitude from newer generations while the essential supply of the generation is Fear of God/Wisdom.
A Gender Difference is another issue in some communications. Man and Woman are two distinct species. They differ during interactions; females are more social as compare to males. They differ during decision-making; the decision-making ability of females is dominantly based on emotional intelligence. They differ on communicative styles; the communicative style of women is normally aesthetic-oriented. They differ on interpretation of message, females interpret the message reluctantly. They differ on perception of environ; females perceives the situation locally or personally. It is important to differentiate the natural distinctions with man-made distinctions.

Organizational Communication

An Organization or Institution is contractually defined and progressively evolved phenomenon of interdependent individuals, it works under the leadership of an entrepreneur. Its activities require human being to interact / communicate. It is estimated that in organizations people spend more than 80% of their time in communication. Communication is not a separate and periodic task rather a continuous and built-in process of an organization. The communication activity of an organization can be grouped into five categories:

· Informational Communication, i.e., an information-driven communication to update customers, suppliers, investors, sellers, and owners.

· Pedagogical Communication, i.e., a learning-oriented communication to enhance professional skills of individuals,

· Horizontal Communication, i.e., a communication among departments or peers to improve collaboration,

· Hierarchical Communication, i.e., a communication with seniors/ juniors or communication between workers and management for better working environment.

· Institutional Communication, i.e., a communication with multiple institutions such as government, press, financial institutions, chambers, and various interest groups.

A communication process utilizes multiple mediums and channels. The communication channels / mediums are selected to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of communication process. A communicative channel is either verbal or non-verbal, while a communication medium is either direct or indirect. The major ways of communication are:

· Reports, letters, handouts, etc.

· Advertisement on Print Media

· Meetings, Seminars, etc.

· Face to face discussions, Brainstorming Sessions, etc.

· Teleconferences/ Videoconferences,

· Interactive CDs / DVDs.

Effective Organizational Communication

An effective organizational communication is materialized by adopting Management by Objectives (MBO) approach towards entrepreneurship. An objective management is productivity driven, individually, and quality driven, institutionally. The institutional environ is cooperative, internally, and fairly competitive, externally. The ultimate object of MBO is to create results, both tangible as well as intangible. The tangible results include customers, sales, and profit, while the intangible results include brand name, customer loyalty, and social recognition. We can create an effective organizational communication system by adopting following communication approaches:

· Dynamic Approach of Communication – A dynamic approach of entrepreneur towards communication shapes responsible-responsive communicative environ, consequently, miscommunications are minimum.

· Democratic Approach of Communication – A democratic approach towards communication promotes open and fearless climate for communication and leads, ultimately, towards effective communication.

· Win-Win Approach of Communication – A win-win approach towards communication assigns benefit of communications to all, both sender and receiver. An organizational communication must lead towards common stance towards threats and shared vision towards opportunities; consequently, the synergic benefits are materialized for everyone involved. For example, the good manager clear reasons to everybody concerned about five P’s (Pay, Placement, Promotion, Perks, and Profit). These 5P’s are elements that often create rifts / miscommunications between management ands staff and among different members of staff, so that unity of purpose is spoiled. A win-win approach towards communication enhances the benefits of communication multiple times, however, it is difficult to implement due to Managerial Ego or Micro-Management.

· Ethical Approach of Communication – Majority of people become as they are treated or considered, Pygmalion Effect, that is, if you allege, unfairly, someone on lethargy and everyone keep this attitude towards him the targeted person may behave like a lethargic. Institutional set up must avoid non-ethical practices at all levels. Leader should make sure that the institutional climate is not corrupting or not making inefficient to anyone by using negative / false comments. A negative mindset or ethically wrong behaviour of sender or manager can make the multiple communication activities a futile exercise.

· State-of-the-art Communication – We are living in Information Age; information is passed on quickly from person to person or from institution to institution or from region to region. In addition, communicative technology replaced persons on various areas of communication. Consequentially, information or communication technology has attained a decisive role during multiple communications; it speeds up the message and expedites the outcome. It assigns comparative advantage to persons or organizations. A better know-how in communication technology by senders/organizations enhances efficient flow of communication and leads towards smooth and effective communication

Muhammad Ilyas

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Six Myths of Effective Communication

Communication Process or Effective Communication or Communication Skills are such subjects that has been properly researched and many authors have filled volumes of pages to explain all the nitty-gritty involved in communication and to explain to the world how one can and must communicate with others or group of people. A simple Google search for “Effective Communication” generates 44 million pages. Yet, I believe that the communication process as a whole is governed by certain myths and misnomer. We are preparing this write-up to touch upon some of those myths and provide clarity.

1) Language is critical for effective communication process – In India; we speak more than 18 recognized languages. Have you ever wondered how does a Kashmiri local communicate with his fellow citizen from Southern part of India or our Marathi Maanus (local from Maharastra) communicate with other country men from Eastern India? They don’t use common language to communicate with one another or to express their thoughts. Yet, they communicate effectively, if not efficiently. Your ability to read, write and speak any particular language or list of languages comprises only 10% of communication process and the balance of 90% of communication process consists of your body-language, facial expressions, message, context, complexity or simplicity of the message (words, terminologies, and jargons used in the message), listening, perceiving, interpreting and giving feedback. How efficient or inefficient you are during the 90% of the communication processes makes the overall communication process either effective or ineffective.

2) Effective communication means your ability to communicate in English Language – Do you know how does the Premier’s of world’s top three economies (President of China Hu Jintao; Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama and President of USA Barack Obama) communicate with one another on world forum? Mr. Hu Jintao and Mr. Yukio Hatoyama have very limited understanding of English language and Mr. Barack Obama is not known for his proficiency in Chinese or Japanese language. It is an irony for our generation to use “effective communication” and “proficiency in English language” as synonym. You cannot make a defense by saying that the English is a widely used language for communication, because it is not. Chinese is the widely used [add language] for communication purposes, followed by Spanish at number two and English at number three. It is also interesting to note that the number of people that use Chinese for communication outnumbers the total number of people that uses Spanish and English combined. There are many prominent people, head of states, historians, and other celebrities who are very effective and influential in their native language, be it French, Italian, Hindi, Arabic or any other language, but they are not good with English language. Does this mean that they are not effective communicators or they have deficiency in their communication? English is not the only language used for communication but is one among many other languages used for the purpose.

3) Ability to write and speak proficiently qualifies you as an excellent communicator – If you write well in any language then you can become a writer and if you speak well in any language then you can become a good speaker or orator but that doesn’t qualify as an excellent communicator. What will you do with your ability to write flawlessly and speak fluently when whatever you write is a piece of irrelevant nonsense and whatever you speak is senseless rubbish? Communication is not just about speaking and writing. It is about understanding the message, context of the message and time of communication.

4) What you communicate is not as important as how you communicate – There is a difference between being a communicator and being a spokesperson and the key difference is related to the ownership of the message. When you communicate, you know what you are communicating, you take-up the responsibility and you also provide clarification, if required. Subject matter expertise is important. Verifying your facts and figures is important. Taking up the ownership is critical. When you are a spokesperson, you pass-on the message prepared by others and are not in a position to provide any clarification and enhancement.

5) People holding command over two different languages cannot communicate efficiently – Language is one of the modes to communicate and fortunately, it is not the only way. While communicating, your message, body-language, facial expression and confidence level, should sync to make it an effective communication. Recently, I went to a laundry shop to check the cost. I can communicate in three languages but the shop-owner didn’t know any of those three. Yet, we communicated, verified our message, gave feedback to one another and gave acknowledgement of acceptance of message. Communication across languages and cultures is possible, provided we minimize our self-constructed hurdles. If I decide to not to understand or accept the message then doesn’t matter what language or mode of communication the other person uses, I will never understand. It has a lot to do with the willingness and desire of both the parties involved in communication process.

6) “No communication” is good communication – In our personal life as well as in work-life we ignore or curtail many requests for communication. We assume that it is good to not respond to a particular message. We hold the information which is meant to be passed-on to people up or down the hierarchy. “No response” or “No communication” or “No feedback” is not considered as good communication but this in turn strangles and complicates many workplaces as well as family relations that actually require frequent exchange of messages for its very existence.

Key elements required for effective communication

1) Know what you are communicating – Knowing what you are communicating is very critical. While communicating, one must correlate his or her own thought process with that of the sensibility of an individual or group of people that they are communicating with. Communication is not a onetime process but involves many to and fro motions and rounds of clarifications, and feedback and hence subject matter expertise is crucial. If you fail to provide the required clarification then you may risk losing your credibility as a communicator.

2) Know the size and composition of people that you are communicating with – It is important to know the composition, size of group (One-to-one or One-to-many or Many-to-one) and cultural background of your audience and based on that you may be required to either level-up or level-down your communication style. If you couldn’t level-up or level-down your communication style based on the need then either you will be considered as incompetent or an idiot.

3) Credibility, Sincerity and Trustworthiness – Do you walk your talk? Are you a reliable and serious communicator or are you an entertainer or publicity seeker? How honest are you in your communication? Are you a habitual liar? Are you authorized to communicate or are you the right person to communicate on the subject or matter that you are discussing or debating about? What’s been your background? All these affect your communication process and your credentials as a communicator.

4) Time of communication – Delay in communication or communicating the wrong message at right time is as good as receiving no communication at all. For example, you could have saved your relation or you could have retained one of your high-performer or you could have brought onboard a very talented candidate but you missed it because you mistimed your communication. There is a right time for every communication to be passed on and for every discussion but unfortunately, the right time is not when you decide it to be right. Just as depicted in one joke between a doctor and a patient.

Doctor: I have good news and a bad news to communicate to you.
Doctor: Good news is that we have been able to prolong the life of your father by one day and the bad news is that I forgot to communicate this to you yesterday.
Good communicator knows the right time to communicate.

5) Precise and simple – Complexity and Longevity of Communication Process kills the essence and effectiveness of the message. Message needs to be simple, straight and accurate. At this point, I remember one of my Department Head. When asked to provide highlights or summary of a concept, he sends across a document of 75-100 pages and of which 99% of text and data would be irrelevant.

6) Feedback – Feedback is very important as it ensures that the message has been understood and accepted in the manner it should have been and that there is no conflict of understanding between the sender and the receiver.

Things to avoid

There are few things that one must avoid to ensure effective communication.

1) Assumptions – There are further two issues that are related to assumptions.
a) Communication between sender (s) and receiver (s) should not have any space for ambiguity. Message must be clearly stated and understood by both the parties and should not be left anything on fancy assumptions. Any such assumption can be fatal for the execution or follow-up of the message.
b) In a relationship between boss and subordinates, among team-members, between employer (or representative of employer) and between any two people that share emotional proximity, mis-communication or lack of communication or misrepresentation in communication leads to assumptions, and gives space for gossip and rumors which in turn distorts the relation, trust and reliability.

2) Common Lingo – In group communication, it is critical to communicate in a language that is understood by everybody else in the group to avoid any conflict of interest, to ensure fairness and transparency. Setting-up a common lingo with one or two or a set of people within a group, which in a way eliminate others from the communication process and make them look embarrassing, not only shows you as disgraceful, disrespectful, scandalous, and despicable but also put questions on your credibility, honesty and communication skills. I was staying with one couple and to keep me out of their discussion, they used to communicate, not privately but right in front of me, in a language that they thought I cannot understand or conversant in. Least did they know that not only I could pick-up few words in that language but their tone and body-language was loud and clear enough to pass on the message. In a group situation, such things need to be avoided or else these put us in an awkward and embarrassing situation.


Tell us what you are going to tell us, tell us, and then tell us what you told us; that is the essence of communication process. Good communication requires clarity of thought, precision of language and empathy with your intended audience. People will interpret your message differently based on their level of education, past experience, familiarity with the topic, fluency in your language, etc. A good communicator has his audience’s best interests at heart. They concentrate on the message, not themselves.

We do not talk TO people, we talk WITH people.

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