Why is communication important?
The ability to communicate effectively is arguably the most important life skill of all. Ensuring that your message is clear and concise will go a long way in helping others understand your point of view. Improving your communication skills will also result in guiding others to express their needs and concern. This creates a feeling of mutual understanding and builds trust amongst your co-workers, friends and family which will lead to a happier more fulfilled life.
Communication is the act of transferring an idea that has formed in your mind through a medium (voice, books, magazines, etc.) in order to form that idea in the listener’s mind1.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary:
Effective (adj.) – successful in producing a desired or intended result
Efficient (adj.) – achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense
In other words:
Effective: Doing the right things
Efficient: Doing things right
How can I apply this?
Finding the balance between effective and efficient communication
Most speakers tend to lean towards either effective communication or efficient communication. The trick is to find the balance between the two. Effective communication means the speaker is focusing on ensuring the listener fully understanding the message he is trying to deliver. Efficient communication means the speaker is trying to convey the message in the shortest time frame possible.
Figure 1 – Impact of message vs. Time taken to communicate
Figure 1 illustrates the 3 main categories that people usually fall under.
Speakers in this category are too focused on being efficient that they fail to be effective. They usually assume that you already know what they’re talking about, and don’t spend enough time ensuring you fully understand what they’re trying to say. In their effort to minimize wasted efforts, they end up compromising effectiveness of their message by cutting out pertinent details.
Speakers in this category are natural communicators. They take time to form their sentences, listen carefully when you speak and communicate very well. Even though it might be ‘more efficient’ for them to shorten their message, these speakers understand that in order to be effective and ensure you understand their message, they have to spend more time explaining their point of view.
Speakers in this category take too long to communicate their message and typically lose your concentration. They tend to pontificate and over-explain their point of view. This leads to dilution of their message and leaves you feeling bombarded by their opinions.
Figure 2 – Types of speakers
Figure 2 breaks down the common symptoms of communication and offers a few solutions to investigate to remedy the situation.
I hope that these tools provide some insight into your own communication skills and set you on the path to become a great communicator. I’d love to hear your experiences with communication issues you’ve faced and how you overcame them.
1 – TED’s secret to great public speaking