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EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION: ACHIEVING SHARED MEANING

Moses Nwokedi Written by Moses Nwokedi · 1 min read >

Communication can be defined as the imparting or exchanging of information through a medium. The medium could be verbal (speaking) or non-verbal (writing, physical gestures, body language, etc). One of the chief aims of Management Communication as a course at LBS, is to enable us to communicate effectively in a managerial and a business context. The importance of this is that we will develop the ability to pass across our ideas, thoughts and intents.  The ability to communicate effectively is very crucial in the business world wherein, often times, we have limited time to say what needs to be said. Take for instance, an elevator pitch to a high-profile investor, selling a business or concept in hopes of securing funding. In such a scenario, there’s minimal time to speak, much less reiterate and confirm clarification. The import of this is that the information must be clear, concise, understandable and interesting enough.

In communication, there is the source of the information, thought or idea; that is the Communicator. On the other end, is the receiver of these thoughts, intents and ideas; in other words, the Audience. For any communication to be considered effective, there has to be an understanding of the Information that is being communicated. In other words, the audience must grasp the information and its meaning as intended by the communicator. When this happens, we can be said to have achieved shared meaning. Shared meaning is the aim of communication, irrespective of what medium is being used.

In order to achieve shared meaning, there are a number of things to ensure. First of all, on the part of the communicator, he or she must be mindful of the audience. So, he has to use language, illustration, terms and jargon that the audience is conversant with. For instance, if a nuclear scientist wants to effectively communicate some ground-breaking research of his to a politician, a businessman or anyone not specialised in that field of science, he would have to use language that can be easily gasped by the other party. Failure to do so would mean that the essence of what he’s trying to say would be lost. On the other hand, if he were to communicate the same ideas to a colleague within the same field, he can communicate on the same level of language and terminology without the fear of losing meaning. The communicator also has to put away forms of assumption regarding the audience. In other words, he or she should not assume that the message has been properly understood. One of the ways he can verify the understanding of his message is through the reception of feedback from the audience. This can be done through direct questioning, questionnaires and surveys.

On the side of the audience, one of the ways through which shared meaning can be achieved is through the asking of questions to the communicator. This brings clarification, greatly minimises the incidence of misunderstandings and ensures that both audience and communicator are on the same plane of meaning.

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