Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. Communication takes place in our daily life. We communicate to our friends, colleagues even strangers. The aim is to understand and to be understood, however often times than not we end frustrated because the person receiving the message is not paying attention or we are simply not expressing ourselves correctly.
Having said this, what then does effective communication mean? A communication is considered effective when the intended meaning matches the perceived meaning. The interpretation of a message depends on the receiver’s basic assumption and background. Hence context is very important.
There are 3 concepts in effective communication namely:
- Concept of shared meaning
- Concept of helping
- Concept of audience and purpose
Concept of shared meaning explains that for a communication to be effective, the speaker or writer’s intended meaning behind his words must match the receiver’s perceived meaning I.e the audience’s interpreted meaning.
Who does the onus lie on to ensure that communication is effective? Is it the speaker or the audience? The concept of helping explains that it is the responsibility of both parties to ensure that communication is effective. How can this be achieved? The audience can ask questions to get clarity on a message using any of the feedback mechanisms also the speaker can check if his message is understood by politely asking the receiver to paraphrase what he understood.
Every communication relationship should be a helping one.
Concept of audience and purpose helps us to focus on the audience and the reason we are passing that message instead of focusing on other rules. A good knowledge of your audience’s background, assumption, profession et.c. These information guides a speaker on how best to present information to her audience. The audience type and purpose will determine the medium, length and language of communication.
As explained previously, communication is not one way. It is a process that involves constant feedback and clarification. The process involves a sender, a receiver and a message.
The transactional model of communication depicts this relationship clearly and explains the role of noise in communication. Noise in this case is not the disturbance generated from an external source. Noise is generated in communication if the speaker does not take into consideration the frame of reference of the listener. The frame of reference helps the listener decode the disseminated information.
Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or non linguistic language and may occur through spoken, written or other modes of communication.
Communication is also defined as the act by which one person gives to or receives from another person, information about that person’s need, desires, perception, knowledge or affective states.
Feedback in communication is the act of ensuring that there is an understanding or shared meaning. This is achieved through cues and questions.
In conclusion, effective communication is more than just the exchange of words between people. The intentions and purpose of that communication must be understood. The ability to understand this context effective is termed effective communication.