Communication is the essence of life. Every day, millions of messages are sent and received both verbally and nonverbally. Whether it is the president making a speech, a billboard promoting a product or a professor lecturing to a class, communication has the power to shape and change culture, society and the lives of individuals. Effective communication generates a positive connection between people. Ineffective communication can lead to confusion, frustration, conflict and low morale.
Communication as a Process
The function of effective communication is to relay a particular message in such a way that results in a mutual understanding. There is a process of encoding and decoding involved. Encoding information is the transmission from a communicator and decoding is the interpretation of a recipient. Decoding is where communication most often breaks down. If communication is ineffective it has the power to hurt, confuse and misinform the listener. Understanding communication as a process rather than a simple behavior is the first step in becoming an effective communicator.
Technology has expanded the number of available communication channels exponentially, creating even more opportunities for ineffective communication. Even with the increased technology, there are a few primary ways to communicate. Verbal communication is the oral use of words to send a message. Nonverbal communications are messages that are sent and received without the use of words such as gestures, vocal tone, eye contact and facial expressions. Written communication is the use of written words to communicate, such as an email or memo. Communication channels that provide richer levels of information have a great chance of being effective. This is the reason why a face to face conversation is more memorable than an email.
The effects of successful communication are understanding, education, empowerment and respect. Effective communication provides people with information they need to become educated and enlightened. When people feel like they are in the know, they are motivated to perform at their best level of productivity and performance. An effective communicator understands how to communicate with their audience and how to use a communication channel to make a meaningful impact. If you have ever looked at your friend and read her expression without saying a word, that is an example of effective nonverbal communication. Telling stories can be a powerful way to effectively communicate with an audience you may not know as well as your friend.
Barriers to Effective Communication
The primary misconception about effective communication is that it is simply saying what a person feels. Simply expressing ideas, thoughts and emotions does not make communication effective. Communication can only be considered effective when the listener understands the message the individual is attempting to send. Using the wrong communication channel or conveying nonverbal communication that contradicts the verbal message are all barriers to effective communication. For example, giving a strongly worded speech while using body language that lacks confidence will cause people to doubt the entire message.
Benefits of Effective Communication
The benefits of effective communication are successful business, rich relationships and the ability to accurately and comprehensively express thoughts, feelings and ideas. Effective communication allows corporate policy to be easily understood, husbands and wives to develop intimacy and employees to know the common mission and goal. Effective communication is at the foundation of every successful action. The function of effective communication can be best seen in the business world. If a company is able to effectively communicate with its workers, they will feel empowered, informed and appreciated. Those companies are then able to expand into new markets and grow their virtual workforces