The world around you improves each time you ask yourself and others how to improve your communication abilities. Everyone knows how to communicate…right? The truth is everyone does communicate. However, some of us seem to do it better than others?
If you’re anything like me, you want to put and keep yourself in the group of people who do communicate better than the average person. Especially when it really, really, really counts (for example…when your wife/husband/other is telling you sounded a little grumpy and you keep telling them you are NOT grumpy…just tired, worn-out, sore, and a little short of temper).
The best way to do this is by making better communication one of your annual goals. Seriously, write it down on paper. Then assess how you communicate now and make a plan on how to improve your weak areas.
The four elements of the generally accepted model of effective communication are the Sender, Message, Receiver and Feedback. This model also includes a communication channel and multiple encoding/decoding steps as a message is put into words, communication media, and associated with meaning in a person’s mind.
Here are just a few ideas on how you may size up your abilities with the four elements:
- Message – Do you find yourself re-explaining the same thought?
– Do you choose a channel that works for the receiver?
- Sender – How well do you know your communication style & channel?
– Do you have trouble with some channels (reading, listening, seeing or feeling)?
– Do you have some topics where you stop actively communicating & push only?
- Receiver – How well do you know receiver’s preferred communication style & channel?
- Feedback – Do you actively check to see if the message was understood?
You know yourself better than anyone, so start with the areas listed above, and ask yourself fourteen more questions about how well you communicate. Be sure to include questions about how you encode, decode, associate meaning, and what channels you use (and why). Keep in mind that as the message moves through the communication process, the participants package, decode, and repackaged the content based on the needs of the sender, receiver, and communication channels.
Think about it like this. If I see a fire in the kitchen, I first decide who needs to know (receiver) then I formulate and “encode” the message based on your needs and the communication channel. If you are asleep, I will include contact in the message as I shake and scream at you to get out of the house. After delivering the message, I’ll do a quick check to make sure you understood it the way I intended it. Hopefully, you’ll give me some feedback (confirmation message) to let me know you understand I am not kidding around. Now just suppose, I decided to text you a not saying the house was on fire? I could include the same words and use some emoticons for good measure. …you good with that?
Every part of the communication process is critical to actively improving your communication skills. I’ve only touched on a couple in the post. Leave a comment and share what you know.
Until Next time,
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Written by Seth Haigh