Do We Have An Understanding?
Seven steps to clear and
At its most fundamental level, clear and effective communication is
the exchange of thoughts, information, ideas, and messages between people
or groups in which the transmission is understood. Communication can
be conducted verbally, nonverbally, in writing, and through behavior
as well as by listening and using feedback.
Recent research has suggested that written and verbal communication
is involved in 90% of all business transactions. Whether you’re just
making small talk or closing the biggest deal of your corporate career,
the art of communicating clearly and effectively is one area of
executive expertise that should not be taken lightly or, even worse,
In fact, poor communication, whether it involves customers, the
media, or stockholders, can be one of the most common and costly
problems for any organization. That's a lesson Exxon executives learned
the hard way in March of 1989 when one of its oil tankers, piloted by a
drunken captain, spilled 35,000 tons of crude oil into the pristine
waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
Nevertheless, no matter who or what audience you must address, the
art of communication can be a daunting task. Here are seven tips that
can lead to clear and effective communication in any situation:
- Stay on Message: Be clear exactly what ideas you are trying
to express or the message you are trying to convey to the other person
or group. What do you most want them to understand?
- Make It a Two-Way Conversation: Try to really hear and
understand where others are coming from. What are they trying to say?
What messages are they trying to get across to you? Ask yourself, "Do
I really understand them?" Pay special attention not just to what they
are saying, but to what isn’t being said.
- Making Sense Of It All: Always ask yourself, "Does what I’m
saying make sense? Does the feedback I’m receiving make sense? What is
the perspective they are trying to get across? Does it make sense that
they have this perspective?" When both parties in the conversation are
truly able to say they understand or that “it makes sense,” clear and
effective communication has been achieved.
- You're Responsible for Any Failure to Communicate:
Remember, as the primary communicator you are 100% responsible for the
other person’s understanding of the communication. In other words, if
you don’t feel that you are being understood, you have not completed
the job of communicating. You must re-communicate your position to
ensure that you’ve been properly heard.
- Can You Hear Them Now?: Do you really hear what others are
saying? To really listen requires your full attention and being able
to feed back to them exactly what you have heard them say.
- Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: An equally effective
way to make sure others understand exactly what you are communicating
is to ask them to repeat back their interpretation of what has been
said or asked of them. In order to guarantee the results or reaction
you want, you need to make sure that your audience can give you a
clear explanation of what is being required of them.
- Respect Your Audience as You Respect Yourself: To be a
clear and effective communicator, you must first recognize that your
message is not just about you or what you want. It’s about “what’s in
it for the audience.” You must both believe in your message and
sincerely care about the needs and the unique perspectives of those
you are communicating to if you truly want to be heard. After all,
they took the time and trouble to hear what you have to say, so it’s
equally important to recognize and respect that we each have different
perspectives based on our positions, motivations, and needs.
The virtually endless benefits of clear and effective communication
are not hard to achieve as long you as keep your message simple enough
to be understood, interesting enough to be remembered, and, most
importantly, respectful enough of others to be respected.