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It is about conveying our ideas and feelings to one another. We do this because we want to influence one another’s understanding, attitudes and actions Without such communications group activities would be virtually impossible. Unless we are able to share ideas and feelings, each of us would be an isolated island Recall Tom Hanks in the movie CASTEWAY and the same Tom Hanks in the movie TERMINAL You will need to communicate with your team, and they in turn will have to communicate with each other. In addition to this along with you they will have to communicate with the outside world as well.

Communication is a two-way process (otherwise it might have been call “munication”) You are not just a sender of messages to the other people. You are also a target and (if you are paying attention) the receiver of the other people’s messages as well. Communication implies some sort of scope for “dialogue.” So please think (a) Why you need to communicate ? (b) With who you have to communicate ? (c) Which forms of communications to use ? (d) What hinders your communication ? (e) How you might improve communication ? Why you need to communicate ? We communicate in order to convey idea’s and feelings, or both But why? Usually we do it in order to influence the way other people see or do things What’s the purpose then behind any act of communication – you with the others and the others with you? Which of the following purposes of communication have cropped up in your work recently or in the past? · Giving or Providing information on which they can act · Receiving such information from the others · Seeking information – actively encouraging people to tell you things they might have otherwise kept to themselves · Having information sought from you · Giving people information or instructions on which you expect them to act in a way acceptable to you · Receiving information or instructions from other on which you are expected to act upon in a way acceptable to them · Motivating/persuading/encouraging – where you expect them to meet some resistance, tiredness or lack of confidence or stamina in the person concerned · Receiving motivation/persuasion/encouragement · Praising/reassuring/expressing interest in someone – or otherwise indicating that you feel well-disposed towards them · Receiving a praise/reassurance/expressing their interest in you – or otherwise indicating that they feel well-disposed towards you · Criticizing, blaming or otherwise making clear that you feel badly about someone and/or about their work · Receiving a criticism, blame or otherwise making clear that they feel bad about you or about someone and/or about your/their work · Any other purposes Often when you speak to someone you will have more than one of these purposes in mind. But it is still worth asking what’s your main purpose. What effect, if any, are you hoping to have on the thoughts, feelings or actions of the person you are communicating with? Equally you might ask the same of anyone who communicates with you. Why are they doing it? What, if anything, do they expect of you? Watch out for “mixed messages” and “hidden agendas” Are they, for instance, giving you the information in order to help your decision-making, to force you to act in a certain way, to make you think well of them, to cheer you up, to get you off their backs, to mislead you or what? With whom do you communicate? Your manager Your leader Fellow manager’s Fellow leader’s Consultants or advisers (internal/external) Principal Consultant’s Your juniors Their juniors Other juniors Customer’s/Clients Suppliers/Vendors Competitors Professional acquaintances Media Any other How do you communicate? We do in many way’s of course ! It could be spoken or written.

Let’s look at the details Spoken words Informal – face to face More formal – one-one interviewing Informal group conversation More formal- group discussions/meetings A presentation to a formal gathering Telephonic conversation – formal and informal Group tele-discussions – conference calls Written materials Writing Memo’s / letters Reading Memo’s / letters Writing reports or discussion documents Reading reports or discussion documents Producing data (financial or technical) Interpreting data (financial or technical) Writing for notice boards Reading on notice boards Writing article’s for newspapers, journals, magazines (technical/commercial/features) etc Reading article’s of others in newspapers, journals, magazines (technical/commercial/features) etc Writing suggestions Reading suggestions of others Consulting Non-Verbal There is yet another way in which we communicate and that is by actions (or the lack of it) and thorough the image of ourselves, we present to the others Similarly we learn about the others – their ideas and feelings through “non-verbal communications” – but very often neither the senders nor the receivers are consciously aware that any communication is taking place Tone of voice (friendly sarcastic) Accent (regional or home country) Pitch of voice (high or deep) Speaking speed (rapid or leisurely) People’s use of silence in conversations Facial expressions and/or hand gestures Body language – the way people sit stand or move about or look in the eye or don’t People’s choice of clothes, cars, office décor, friends, life style etc., Personal habits – e.g. Cleanliness, promptness at meetings etc Much of what we pick up from such non-verbal communication is not very specific. Your just get feelings about the other person, often without realizing why, and certainly without knowing how far they are relevant to what the person thinks he/she is trying to tell us. Likewise we are often not aware of our own non-verbal messages – or of the image we thus present to other people.

What hinders your communication? As we are all aware – most often communications can fail, and there can be several reasons for the failure Lack of clarity – in the message probably e.g. senders aren’t too sure what is the exact message to convey – perhaps lack of knowing the importance or prioritization Faulty presentation – e.g. giving complicated instructions face-to-face rather then written down instructions or over loading a report with jargons GIGO/WYSIWYG Incapacity of the receiver – the person giving the message may lack the sense (or may be just the background knowledge) to see the point of it Mistaken meanings – the sender and the receiver of the message may understand it differently and thus be at cross purposes Incompatible viewpoints – The sender and the receiver may see the world so differently (like say production and sales staff) a common viewpoint is difficult to achieve Interpersonal feelings – If the people have strong feelings about one another (approving or disapproving), these may affect how they understand (or misunderstand) the message. Deception – communication sometimes fails because people issue ‘disinformation’ (tell lies) in order to achieve their own hidden purposes Interference – distractions like noise, heat, cold, anxiety, ill-health, poor light etc – may cause a message be misread or misheard Lack of channels – organizations may simply have no means of enabling contact between people who need certain kinds of information and the people who have it Build–up of distortion – the longer the chain of people along which a message must pass (as in the game of Chinese whispers), the more likely it is garbled by the time it reaches those in the end.

Author : R Bharadwaj

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