We have discussed elsewhere that the communication as a process is prone to noise or barriers to communications. The communication channel creates random corruption of information and even the decoding process can introduce problems. As with electronic communication system one strives to protect the signal or the message as far as possible and try to minimize decoding errors so that much of the information is delivered properly. The feedback mechanism helps the sender understand how much of the message has been understood. Sender then redelivers the message may be in a reworded form to enhance the level of communication.
Communication tools, techniques and modes
There are several tools, techniques and communication modes one can use that tries to overcome the noise or the barriers to communication problems. Not all the tools discussed in the following may apply to your specific project scenario and the stakeholders list. Some of the tools mentioned are applicable when a large community of external customers is involved. The techniques using public media apply to such scenarios. These include the delivery of information via publications and other printed materials, public service broadcasts and videos, media relations, using a spokes person or communicating via special days such as the Earth day and so on.
Internet based communications directed towards the general consumer community will be different from the communication directed at a project team and related stakeholders. These may be Wikis and Intranets where not only information is posted, discussions can take place and important issues can emerge. Good rules for site design apply. Simple clean designs with simple navigation are very helpful. Text used to convey any idea should be short and crisp.
Techniques that are very useful in communicating are listening closely; using non verbal communication abilities to the fullest extent to convey your intended meaning, expressing thoughts and feelings not taking an adversary position. By attentively listening one is able to concentrate on the message, just collect information and not form an opinion, reflect on what was said and provide feedback to speaker that you understand. Summarizing the discussion helps the sender of information how much of information in totality has been understood by you.
The non verbal message you may be passing along is important. Posture tells the sender that you are attentive, equal position makes sure no one is in a dominating position. Facial expressions and gestures should reveal that you are interested and are listening attentively. Being open and honest when you would share thoughts and feelings establishes that the sender trusts the receiver with all the information in his/her possession. Speaking clearly helps immensely.
It is easier to share a concern when it is expressed non-judgmentally. Rather than saying why something is not being done, one could express what the best way of doing something is. It also helps when providing a feedback to say “I” did not understand some particular point, rather than saying the saying the sender could not explain the same. Doing these sessions interactively is possibly the best method. After a round of “Informate” or telling the information, one should seek feedback and then restate depending on how the sender has understood the information. The iterations continue until feedbacks indicate that what is said and what is understood largely converge.
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