The best communicators know that communication is a two way process. Remember the line, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” This line is from the movie Cool Hand Luke and it has become a catchphrase. That is because it highlights one of our greatest frustrations--miscommunication. On the other hand, great communication has almost always been a trait of some of our greatest leaders. They had great accomplishments but they were almost always great communicators.
Communication is a two-way process to exchange ideas. We communicate in order to elicit some type of response. Some examples of a response could be more knowledge, a specific action, or some type of emotion.
Depending on our communications media, the words we use might not have as powerful an impact as other factors. For example, in face to face conversations we communicate more information non verbally through our body language and our tone of voice. In reality every communication has a nonverbal element.
You can miscommunicate with any form of medium. These are some that I have noticed.
Face to Face – Your body language will say whether you believe what you are saying or whether you are uncomfortable and unsure. When you speak look directly at the other person. If you look away it says you lack confidence or belief in your message. The listener might be reluctant to trust you based on your body language. Some other subtle signals such as the way you stand, the way you fidget, or your facial expression will create an impression that may be contrary to your words.
Email – I have heard people tell me that they can feel the anger in someone’s email. Tersely written emails with no forethought can do great damage. The misuse or overuse of email can damage relationships. I worked with a manager who sent emails to people who were sitting right outside her office. Her staff complained that she was impersonal and did not show interest in their contributions.
Phone - Think about your message before you make that phone call. Your voicemail message on your phone should be carefully scripted. Listen to your message. If you were a caller what impression would you receive? When you leave messages on answering machines they should be concise and to the point, not rambling to the point of being cut off by the time limit?
The best way to give a good message is to be a good listener. Remember we have two ears and one mouth. Focus on the person receiving the message. Watch for clues of understanding, engagement, and agreement. In short, wait to see if you are getting that response you desire. In this way you will insure that you have connected and established two way communication.