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7 Characteristics Of Effective Communication

7 Characteristics Of Effective Communication

Effective communication is clear, empathetic, and concise, incorporating feedback and adaptability. It leverages both verbal and non-verbal cues to enhance understanding and engagement.

Clarity

The principle of clarity in communication refers to the use of simple, straightforward language in order to get a message across and ensure that it can be understood with no possibility of confusion or insufficiency. While in any setting it is always important to make sure that one’s intention is clearly delivered, in some environments precision is even more crucial. Such an accurate delivery of information, in turn, can only be achieved through clear communication. One of the most relevant and vital areas where the lack of precision could prevent people from understanding the message and following the instructions, thus potentially leading to unfavorable consequences, is healthcare.

To begin with, the most obvious example would be a nurse explaining a post-operative treatment to a patient and providing them with instructions of their care regimen vital for recovery . If the nurse uses complicated language and does not provide clear, easy-to-understand explanations, the patient may fail to understand how they must behave in order to recover. As a result, the patients may not follow the directions and fail to comply with their prescribed care routines. Notably, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Communication, clear instruction delivery by healthcare providers increases the patients’ compliance in following the prescriptions by 30%. In contrast, if the nurse uses simple, straightforward language in defining the terms the patient is more likely to understand and follow the instruction.

Techniques of Enhancing Clarity

Simple language: making sure that the listener is unfamiliar with complicated terms or special jargon

Straightforwardness: announcing at the beginning of the communication what the main intention is in order to maintain the hierarchy of subordination of importance; for example, a team leader beginning a meeting with “Today we have to finalize our strategy for preparing the product for launch”

Visual instruments: applicable where information is complicated and the listener will benefit from hints; for example, a teacher showing students a picture illustrating the water cycle in an educational institution.

Time Tanagement

Concise

Communicating concisely is essential because time is an important resource in every aspect of life, especially in a fast-paced one. Therefore, being concise implies that one presents only the relevant information and does so clearly and briefly without overwhelming the other party with unnecessary detail. It is crucial in communicating more effectively at work or in any other context that demands clarity and action. For example, in the workplace, one needs to update stakeholders about a project. Being concise means writing only a short email whose only purpose is to convey the following information: what has been accomplished, what challenges or difficulties have been experienced, and what is next? According to the Harvard Business Review , concise communications are more likely to be read and acted on. This is because ‘conciseness shows respect for the recipient’s time and attention’ , reduces the cognitive load, and enhances communication’s clarity and comprehension.

Strategies to Improve Conciseness

Planning: Being concise is much easier when one knows what one wants to write about or what one wants to convey. Planning from the outset or making an outline of the main points one wants to cover is very helpful because then each following sentence is written with the message’s delivery goal in mind. For example, when a project manager wants to update stakeholders on the project’s current state and where it is going, he needs to know which updates are key and must be presented in the emails. He or she should not go into unnecessary details about irrelevant aspects, but simply focus on the goal and plan the letter.

Ruthless Editing: Once the message is written, one can go over it again and reduce the word count by removing redundant words and sentences and other unnecessary or repetitious information. The key is to be “brutal”, delete anything that is not related to the point or purpose of the communication. This is especially important in professional communication because at work, every word counts. For example, when one writes to a colleague or a superior, the letter must be as brief and to the point as possible, avoiding prolonged explanations or arguments.

Using Bullets: Breaking the information into points or a list of bullet points will also make it more concisely and clearly. It means splitting it into ‘succinct, separate, and manageable points’ or in a form that will be easier for the reader to digest. For example, when an employee sends a presentation to a supervisor or urgent briefing to colleagues, all the information can and should be broken into simple, structured points: the points, the deadlines, short descriptions, and the responsible people.

Specific

Being specific in communication is important as it adds precision and detail, making it possible to understand particular information and take specific actions. People have to be aware of what they are expected to do, and through a lot of specific information, they may avoid potential problems. Specifically defined information is rather useful, as it easiest to communicate, implement, and control. Consequently, clear objectives help to perform smoothly and increase accountability within a team .

To illustrate, assume that a project manager may have a project meeting this Friday and appoints a member of his team to prepare a client presentation. Be clear that saying merely “handle the client presentation” is not enough. Rather, the manager has to explain what he wants. Therefore, he might say,

“Prepare a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation for our client meeting this Friday. Describe our last month’s progress regarding the project milestones and the challenges if we had any. On the last slide, specify the next steps. For this, use the agreed background color and font Times News Roman size 12. Make sure that the presentation is brand-consistent and professional.”

The Project Management Institute reveals that projects with clear goals are 45% more possible to succeed. Therefore, clear goals provide direction and specific, measurable performance standards.

Strategies to Enhance Specificity

  • Provide specific details. It is valuable to consider all critical aspects to communicate or implement and add relevant specifics and background information or describe a particular procedure. Indicate what is supposed to implement, changes expected, and other particular attitudes. For instance, informing an employer, say, “The report for the last month should be more detailed and included clear final conclusions.” Not enough to say, “Improve the report”).

  • Develop clear expectations that should be organized according to the target implementation and expected results and the time-frame for this implementation. Do not forget to introduce milestones to determine the effectiveness of the ongoing implementation or what was already done. For example, to say not only that “the sales should enhance” but to indicate “you should achieve this annual target with the suggested weekly and monthly results.”

  • Follow-up to ensure received information correctly and add particular prescribers if their implementation is impossible. For example, one may schedule a meeting to inform directly about the received message and how it may affect this particular person or job.

Correct

Correctness in communication is vital, particularly in environments where decisions depend heavily on the accuracy of provided information. Unless all communicated data is factually true and up-to-date, decisions will be under-informed, and misinformation – a potentially dangerous thing – will spread. For example, financial analysts exert great influence on shaping investment strategies through their reports on market trends . If a given financial analyst base their statement that the stocks of a company are poised to rise on inaccurate data of the company’s financial records, this will enable investors to make misguided investments, leading to financial loss in the future. The importance of providing only accurate data in various fields is highlighted by a study, published in the Journal of Finance which notes that “the more honest companies are rewarded by the companies’ higher trust by the investors and by the higher level of their stock prices”.

Ways to Maintain Accuracy

  • Fact-Check: It is imperative to ensure that the information you are providing is accurate. Therefore, when engaging in any form of communicative activity, always strive to double-check the figures and facts you provide, by cross-verifying them across several different reliable sources. This is notably important when working in such fields as journalism, science, and market analysis, since the latter heavily rely on accurate data. For example, when a journalist discovers some new information that they would like to include in the article, they should always look for independent sources that can confirm the found facts before including them in the article .

  • Proofread: It is not sufficient for the information being provided to be accurate. Additionally, you, as the provider of this information, must ensure that the writing which you use to convey it is of high quality and is free from major errors. Spelling and grammatical errors frequently distract the attention of the reader and reduce communication’s impact and credibility, so it is imperative to conduct a thorough proofreading of every type of written work. Spelling and Grammar Check on some word processors provide a useful service in this regard, but never underestimate the value of a final check of the already proofread text – the so-called “human eye” check.

  • Stay Updated: The world is continuously changing, and the information received at a given point may cease to be relevant in the future. It is essential to continue refreshing the bases of knowledge and look for the new information in your area of expertise. Thus, market analysts and technology reporters will benefit from subscribing to professional journals and magazines, as well as by visiting relevant webinars and courses.

Coherent

Coherence in communication means that your message is not only understandable for the listeners but also memorable. This is based on the clear and logical organization of information, so that each part of it will start where the previous part ended. For example, if a person is writing an annual report on a corporation, the very first section must be an executive summary with certain highlights. Then, the report must move to the consideration of finances, touching upon revenue, profit, and expenses. Next, it will be the details about operational successes and failures, while the final section must consider future plans . Stakeholders can trace the interrelation of finances, management, and production and see how all components of corporate activity affect the general concept. From the opposite point of view, reports that have no coherence are confusing, and after a while, no one can recall what was said in them.

Ways to Create Coherence

  • Logical Organization: First of all, any piece of work must be logically organized. Every part of the whole piece must contribute the information that will help to make a logical conclusion. For example, when a lecturer is planning a course, he will make an accent on basic notions first and will continue with the advanced ones. It means that advanced notions will rest on the basis of the basic ones, and they will be easier to absorb.

  • Phrases for Transitions: To show that different parts are organically linked, they can start with special phrases. They can be, for example, “moving on to”,, “in addition”, “consequently”. Thus, in a business presentation, when the listener had already received the information about the current year and will receive the information about the next year, the transitioning phrase will be, “Having received information on the current year’s performance, we move on to the next year’s goals.” This phrase will show the listener the correlation between the two parts.

  • Review to See How the Work Flows: Finally, after any work is done, it is important to look at it as a whole to make sure that there is nothing unnecessary there. In the case of a research paper, the review will help to make sure that all claims in the introduction are confirmed by data and that nothing is repeated in the conclusion.

  • Support: Research published in the Academy of Management Journal says that coherent communications can sometimes double the decision-making efficiency. For instance, a message is more coherent in case of clear transitioning phases, and this means that listeners can absorb information faster and better and make sure that their decision was not mistaken.

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Whole

Communication is complete when your audience has all the information they need to understand and act on what you are saying. Complete communication provides a ‘whole’ picture of what is being shared, reducing the chance of someone missing or misunderstanding something, and streamlining decision-making.

One example of an effective complete communication strategy in the content below is when a software developer introduces a new feature to non-technical staff. The email explanation does not just list what the new feature does but ensures that the staff know what the feature is for, how it benefits them, and how to use it, including what specific actions to take, and the options available to them for using it. As a result, staff are much better informed about what they are working with, reducing the need for follow-up and consultation. This example is also supported by research suggesting that complete information can increase the rate at which software tools are adopted by 40% .

Strategies for Ensuring Completeness

  • Include All Information: Make sure that anything relevant to the topic is communicated. This might be information explaining the background to the topic, giving context to it, or communicating specific data to support the main points. For example, if a new company policy is communicated, the communication should include what the changes are, why they are being made, and what the effects on employees will be.

  • Anticipate Questions: Think proactively about what questions your audience might have for you and then provide this information upfront. You might do this by putting yourself in the shoes of the audience and thinking about what you should explain, or by recalling situations in which similar communications led to questions. For example, if a manager communicates a new operation procedure, questions could relate to exceptions to this new procedure, which should therefore be discussed in the first communication.

  • Provide Examples: Examples help illustrate your points, allowing communication to be complete. They are also practical, showing applications of the rule and making your point more difficult to misunderstand. For example, if a new data entry process is unveiled, an example could show each step, one-by-one, of entering a typical record.

Polite

Politeness in communication is not merely about using courteous language. It is about showing respect and considerations, and it can have a strong effect on the success of your communication. It helps to create a comfortable environment in which open discussion is encouraged, which is especially crucial in management and leadership roles. The delivery of a demand or feedback by the manager to the employee is one common example where the tone of communication strongly influences the effectiveness of work. For example, if the manager merely demands better performance, then not only will the demand not lead to improved performance, but it will also worsen the situation by demoralizing the employee. The more polite feedback is not just less damaging to the person’s self-esteem, but additionally encourages them to perform better . The results of the study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology show that while demanding feedback only improves the performance of a receiver by 21%, human communication can achieve improvements of up to 33%. Therefore, it is clear that one of the important matters of good communication, be it at work, with subordinates, or personal, is the degree of politeness you keep in it.

How to Achieve Politeness

There are several strategies that can be used to achieve politeness in your communication.

  • Use courteous language. Phrases like “pleases”, “thank you”, and “could you” strip your communication of any demands, and by making them less heavy, they turn into requests or even advice. For example, “send the report to me by noon” is a demand and might be quite impolite while “could you send me the report by noon, thank you” is a much more polite version.

  • Respect other people’s and your sugeneric or resisting. A typical example is eye contact, which is encouraged in western cultures and is often seen as a sign of honesty. In the eastern culture, it can be regarded as impolite or challenging, and in the Islamic countries, women are discouraged from maintaining eye contact with the opposite sex.

  • Be empathetic. Try to consider the position of the person you are talking to, their emotions, needs, and potentially knowledge base, and target your message at them. For example, if the person has just returned from a bereavement leave, then they are probably more sensitive at the moment and a demand is likely to damage their motivation.

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