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How to communicate effectively

1. Viewpoint

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."

Thomas Jefferson

2. Smile & ponder

Lunch hours were always the busiest time at the local bank with time-starved customers queuing for service. There never seemed to be enough tellers to satisfy demand.

Management decided to employ various forms of nonverbal commun-ication to help alleviate the problem. Each teller was issued with a badge indicating that he or she was undergoing training to improve his or her skills. And each teller displayed for the customers to see a partly eaten apple or a tub of yogurt and spoon.

When queuing customers finally made it to the teller, their feelings of frustration abated when they noticed that the teller was undergoing training (they became more accepting of his or her speed) - and working through lunch to serve the customers.

3. Don't forget

The words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.

4. Quotable quote

"A good communicator takes responsibility for the flow of communication, whether speaking or listening. Don’t rely on people to accommodate themselves to you. You are in charge of every communication situation you’re in."

Roger Ailes in You are the Message.

5. Viewpoint

"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said."

Peter Drucker

6. Read further

'Communication Gaps and How to Close Them' by Naomi Carten, Dorset House, London, 2002.

7. Ask yourself

When was the last time you talked to someone outside your own department? asks Harvey Mackay in 'Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty'. If it has been longer than four hours, it has been too long, he adds.

8. Why communication counts

Roger Ailes in 'You are the Message' says: Of all the activities and functions performed by a manager, none takes up more time than communication - If it is hampered, the entire organisation suffers; when it is accurate, thorough and timely, only then can the organisation move effectively towards goal achievement.

9. It must be two-way

Effective communication means mutual understanding, says Greg Vance in 'An Australian Manager's Guide to Success'. It's not just about telling, instructing, informing or arguing. It must also be about listening, considering, giving and obtaining feedback, understanding and agreeing. Communication as a process must be two-way for it to be effective.

10. Good and Bad Communication

Bad communication is often a one-way process that can leave you feeling that the other person hasn't understood, hasn't been interested, or hasn't made any effort to understand your point of view. Or, if you are on the receiving end of bad communication, it can make you feel as if you've been lectured, interrogated, patronized, or dismissed as being of little or no importance.

Good communication is a two-way process. It occurs when people exchange thoughts, views, ideas, requests, or information. And when people express clearly how they feel or what they want. And when people listen attentively and make a real effort to understand where the other person is coming from. Good communication leaves you feeling as if you've had every opportunity to make your point and the other person has understood, just as you've understood them. Even if you disagree, you are both clear about what has been said and agreed on and what should happen next. There are no grey areas.

Lisa Davis in Shortcuts for Smart Managers, AMACOM, NY, 1998