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The strength of your communication ability can boost or jeopardize your career, whether you need to ask for a raise, give feedback to a worker, build a stronger team or market your business to customers. Communication never stops. Your face and body alone tell people how you feel, while modern electronic methods enable a steady stream of information and debate to travel your organization, and the globe, in seconds.
In order to communicate, you pass messages to, and receive messages from, other people. To send a message, you code it into words or other symbols, then deliver it. To receive one, you need to decode it before you can understand it. Simply sending a communication and ensuring the recipient receives it -- whether in written, spoken or non-verbal form -- won’t guarantee that it will be understood. Check that your receiver has decoded and understood your message, by noticing his response. Any mistakes he makes, questions or negative feedback may reveal that you need to be clearer, more tactful, more direct or specific -- or you may have to choose a different method of communication.
Strong communication takes into account the needs of the receiver of the communication and of the workplace as a whole: You may need to inform, instruct, negotiate or persuade. Sometimes you will direct your message to one person, while other times your audience is a group of people. Take time to consider the effect of your communication on the recipient. Managers need to give unwelcome messages at times, and should develop communicative rapport with the recipient to reduce destructive anger, explain the authors of “Necessary Evils, (In)Justice, and Rapport Management,” published in the Journal of Business Communication. Face-to-face communication likely trumps the written word when your message is sensitive.
Stay aware of the wide range of communication channels available to you to strengthen your message. Select from written communications, including typed or handwritten documents, or choose a more personal approach. Text messages and email allow the recipient to respond in her own time, while the telephone depends on her freedom to talk at that moment. If you need to pass on detailed information or complex instructions, you may find it more effective to send a document, divided into brief sections, so that the recipient can take time to digest the contents. Social media, websites and blogs can help you spread messages from your organization to the wider community. A good presentation can excite a whole roomful of people, while a short “water cooler” conversation may help you to collect useful feedback.
Words that are too long or complex for the receiver to understand, inappropriate facial expressions, poor body language, bad grammar or sloppy spelling can weaken your communication message. Remember to consider the cultural and personal values of the recipient of the message, whether one person or many, to avoid offense and communicate more effectively. Be sure anything you write is legal, decent, honest and truthful.
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Frances Evesham has been writing on communication, language and well-being topics for over 20 years. The author of "Help Your Child To Talk," she has a diploma in speech pathology, is an NLP premier practitioner and is a registered witness intermediary working in the justice system in the U.K.