11 Sutras for Effective Communication.
by M. K. Bajaj
Since the creation of this world the communication phenomenon been consistent. It is the basic need of every creature. No one can live in isolation for long. If we say the Communication is the tool / part of basic survival instinct of living creatures, it won’t be inappropriate.
A new born child may lack the skills but still communicates in his or her own way for survival. The form, the ways and means of communication etc. undergo change with the growth.
It plays a vital role in the personal and the domestic lives of the people and it has even greater significance in Organizational settings. If we have to get things done, it is necessary that the employees in the organization, at work, are aware about its significance. How it has to be done, when it has to be done and other related issues.
Communication forms the basis for management by objectives, long range goal setting and policy formulation, strategic planning, organizational development and effectiveness. Control, decision making and allied managerial activities aimed at the effective attainment of organizational goals.
The plans of management will not be implemented effectively if they are not communicated to the employees properly. Different authorities have defined communication in different ways. According to one school of thought - 'it is treated as the transmission of commonly meaningful information'. Another school of thought says that it is transmission and reception of ideas, feelings and attitudes, both verbally and non-verbally, eliciting a response.
In spite of being of vital importance, Communication among human beings has always been a complex issue. The ability to tell, which is understood by another as it was to be understood, is one of the most important attribute of a successful manager, leader and administrator. When something goes wrong in an organization or office, it is invariably because someone did not get the word or got it wrong. Implying that communications have broken down. The idea / plan or concept couldn’t reach its targeted audience.
Generally, people assume that they communicate well. This type of attitude causes hindrance. People misunderstand and misinterpret, ideas go unsold, misunderstood and un-executed. Communications are not meant to end in misunderstanding. Question arises as to how one should communicate?
No set formula can be evolved for cent per cent successful communication because it is related to human behavior which is perhaps most complex to interpret.
To facilitate the process here are Eleven ‘Sutras’ for effective Communication.
Know the audience - Each listener filters out of each communication what at the moment he needs and the rest he leaves. We must consider the age, sex, type of job, technical know-how, education, interest, possible bias of the audience and mood of the moment, while communicating with them. Listening is an important aspect of Communication. It will be of great help if we listen the audience first before making an attempt to communicate, what we wish to.
Knowing well what we are talking about - If we ourselves understand an idea clearly, then it will be possible to explain it to someone else. One should never try to guess or fake one’s thought to save face. Do proper homework.
Speak clearly - Speaking articulately and clear enough, so as to be understood by the listeners, is a great art. Most of us have to work hard at it. Use of jargons should be avoided. It is rightly said – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Simple words will have deeper impact on the minds of the listeners.
Avoid the ambiguous - Many words we practice today have pretty vague meaning. Be careful to stay away from such phrases like. 'Take appropriate action' ‘Do the needful' 'Allow as per rules' 'Handle tactfully' 'Okay. if rules permit' etc. Make your ideas clear. Leave no room for vagueness in what you say.
Choose proper conditions - We cannot communicate with the persons as an isolated fact or an insulated one. We communicate while they are affected by their own environment of home, family, work, health position etc. We should choose proper conditions to begin with.
Don't talk more than required - It is just as bad to say too much as to say too little. Effectiveness of verbal communication wanes inversely with its length. Stop, when you have said just enough to make your point.
Be sincere and honest - Don't hide what you really mean behind a screen of devious words. Just be honest, courteous, clear and acceptable. Use words which are commonly in use and well known to others.
Speak to express - People use fancy words out of a sense of vanity. More often, than not, they only confuse the listener. One should Speak to express, not to impress. You will impress, if you express better. Talk to inform and inspire and not to conceal, to confuse or to intimidate.
Control gestures and tone – An appropriately dressed smiling man who greets his staff with a cheering 'GOOD MORNING" gets in return a smiling 'good morning'. The man who gestures wildly and shouts about a routine problem will probably convince everyone that a crisis is brewing.
Make eye contact – Eye contact is a very effective tool for meaningful communication. One gets instant feedback. It helps in monitoring or controlling one’s discourse in tune with the mood of the audience. Sometimes, unsaid says more than the said one.
Update before addressing.
Presently, transmission of information is happening at lightening speed. Developments are taking place at faster rate too. Before addressing the audience one should make a fact check, so as to avoid the embarrassment in full public view, if the data / information has been altered.
Apart from the points narrated above, one should avoid slangs, cheap jokes or comedy. Treat your audience as equals. Adherence to the time schedule would be appreciated. Overstepping your brief and encroaching upon others’ domain shall bring negative returns. Be decent to others. Finally, be a good listener. Audience would not pay attention to what you say if you don't listen in turn and reciprocate.
Effective communication is an important attribute of effective management. A prerequisite to progress and continued success. Several management and human relations issues have their roots in some kind of break-down in communication. Information which was not passed on, or passed on was incorrect or insufficient and if fully passed on was misunderstood. It implies that the full value and significance of clear communication as a management tool is yet to be recognized in true sense.
Presently, despite having umpteen channels of communication the message quite often doesn’t reach the targeted audience in the manner it was intended to be. There is a strong case to improve the ability to communicate and to listen effectively, with understanding at both ends.
Lest we forget ::
“सत्यम ब्रूयात प्रियम ब्रूयात, मा ब्रूयात सत्यम अप्रियम,
प्रियम च नानृतम ब्रूयात, एष धर्म: सनातन: ।।"
[Speak the truth, speak sweetly. Don’t speak unpleasant truth. Sweet but untruth should not be spoken. This is universal religion.]
M. K. Bajaj
General Manager (Retd.)
Central Bank of India
Mob : 9570900465.