The Basics of Communication
Posted on April 18, 2011 at 6:00 am filed in Communication
Communication in its most basic form is intended to accomplish two functions. The first is to convey information and the second is to get that information to its intended audience.
If my house is on fire and I don’t tell anyone then my house will continue to burn. If my house is on fire and I run out side and proclaim to my neighbors that my house is in fire I may get the help I need. If my house is on fire and I call the fire department in Manoa, Iowa (I live outside of Philly) they may not be able to provide the help I need. If my house is on fire and I call my local fire department I have the greatest chance of getting help putting out the fire.
Now let’s look at this same scenario from a different perspective. If my house is on fire and I call my local fire department and tell them about my lovely cat Roxi and her latest antics with the neighbor’s dog my house will continue to burn. If my house is on fire and I call my local fire department and tell them there’s smoke coming out of my kitchen window I may get some help but they will probably need more information. If my house is on fire and I call my local fire department and tell them that my oven caught on fire while making a roast and the kitchen wall is beginning to burn I will most likely get the immediate help I need.
Crafting the right message to the right person is critical in any form of communication no matter the gravity of the communication. Dissecting communication to very basic components and recognizing the importance of each of these components is essential in effective communication.
We will consider four basic components and what role they play in our communication.
The Messenger: This is the person that is delivering the message. The messenger may be the originator of the message or may be task with delivering a message created by another. In cases where the messenger is aware of the message being delivered it is their responsibility that the receiver gets the message and understands the message
The Message: The information that needs to be conveyed. This can be a routine communication regarding a work assignment or something weightier concerning work performance. Regardless of the significance of the message it is important to craft the message in a way that can be best understood by the receiver. The content of the message should determine the mode in which the message is delivered
The Mode: How the information is conveyed is critical. The mode is the mechanism by which the information travels. There are specific mechanisms we use for communication but most fall under three basic categories; verbal, nonverbal and written.
Verbal communications would be any communication that happens face to face, over the phone or some other mechanism of communication including two-way radios or web conferencing. Written communication would be letters, email or even instant messaging or text messaging. Although we don’t often consider the gravity of nonverbal communication it is particularly important in face to face communication that our non verbal message is consistent with what our verbal message. Using the proper mode will greatly improve the probability that your message will be understood by the receiver.
The Receiver: This is the end of the line, where the proverbial buck stops. It is the receiver that needs to understand the message received. The receiver whether a person or a group, will be the recipients of the message. Consideration of the receiver is critical in every component of communication. How the message is crafted, who delivers the message and the mode in which the message is conveyed should be influenced by the receiver.
Making communication works takes good effort. Not considering these basic components of communication can lead to misunderstanding. Although this is a basic look at communication, consideration of the messenger, message, mode and receiver when crafting any communication will put us on the path toward more effective communication.