Communication skills

Source

As the source of the message, you need to be clear about why you’re communicating, and what you want to communicate. You also need to be confident that the information you’re communicating is useful and accurate.

Message

The message is the information that you want to communicate.

Encoding

This is the process of transferring the information you want to communicate into a form that can be sent and correctly decoded at the other end. Your success in encoding depends partly on your ability to convey information clearly and simply, but also on your ability to anticipate and eliminate sources of confusion (for example, cultural issues, mistaken assumptions, and missing information.)

A key part of this is knowing your audience: Failure to understand who you are communicating with will result in delivering messages that are misunderstood.

Channel

Messages are conveyed through channels, with verbal channels including face-to-face meetings, telephone and videoconferencing; and written channels including letters, emails, memos and reports.

Different channels have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, it’s not particularly effective to give a long list of directions verbally, while you’ll quickly cause problems if you give someone negative feedback using email.

Decoding

Just as successful encoding is a skill, so is successful decoding (involving, for example, taking the time to read a message carefully, or listen actively to it.) Just as confusion can arise from errors in encoding, it can also arise from decoding errors. This is particularly the case if the decoder doesn’t have enough knowledge to understand the message.

Receiver

Your message is delivered to individual members of your audience. No doubt, you have in mind the actions or reactions you hope your message will get from this audience. Keep in mind, though, that each of these individuals enters into the communication process with ideas and feelings that will undoubtedly influence their understanding of your message, and their response. To be a successful communicator, you should consider these before delivering your message, and act appropriately.

Feedback

Your audience will provide you with feedback, as verbal and nonverbal reactions to your communicated message. Pay close attention to this feedback, as it is the only thing that can give you confidence that your audience has understood your message. If you find that there has been a misunderstanding, at least you have the opportunity to send the message a second time.

Context

The situation in which your message is delivered is the context. This may include the surrounding environment or broader culture (corporate culture, international cultures, and so on).

Mind tools: essential skills for an excellent career. URL: http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/CommunicationIntro.htm (2008-06-26)

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