Characteristics of Effective Communication
The act of communicating sounds like it should be a simple thing. One person sends a message, and another person receives it. Easy, right? Unfortunately, effective communication is not always that simple, but understanding what makes this process work well can help you to become a better communicator.
Effective and healthy communication can only happen when the person sending the message is aware of and plans for specific characteristics that affect how the message is received and perceived by the other person.
If you want to improve your communication, then understanding these characteristics can help you plan and deliver your message more effectively.
The 7 Cs of Communication
Is Your Message Complete?
Did the receiver get all the information they need to understand your message? When you are communicating, it is crucial to deliver everything the listener or reading may need, so that there is less need for questions or fewer opportunities for misunderstandings to evolve.
Have You Considered Your Audience?
When communicating, it is vital that you understand and take into account the perspective, background, and prior knowledge of the receiver. You want your message to be heard, so if you start with statements that will offend the other person or are too technical for them to comprehend, you have failed your mission.
Considering the other person’s needs and experience will ensure you are more successful in reaching your goal.
Are You Communicating Courteously?
Courtesy is linked to consideration but moves beyond crafting a message that the listener can understand to sharing one that is respectful and polite, as well. Are you honoring the other person’s values and beliefs? Are you speaking or writing in a way that shows you respect their ideas and opinions?
Are You Being Concrete?
When we share information or give an argument, tangible and specific are preferred to abstract and vague. Supporting your points with facts or examples is helpful. This lends credibility to your case and helps to avoid miscommunication.
How Concise is Your Message?
Sticking to the point and not wandering from your main idea means that the receiver can understand what is essential in your message. This allows them to process more quickly what you are sharing, which improves understanding and the entire communication process.
Is Your Message Clear?
When your message is clear, your receiver can more easily decode it in ways that are aligned to your intent. Lack of clarity causes most communication breakdowns. Make sure you are clear about your goal, then craft the most straightforward and accurate message to accomplish that. Use exact and proper words, which reduces confusion.
Are You Communicating Correctly?
Using sloppy syntax or grammar does not just influence the received perception of you and your message. It can also taint the meaning of what you are trying to communicate. Using correct punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure ensure that you and the receiver are on the same playing field, reducing the possibility of ambiguity, misunderstanding, or negative impact.
Tips for Enacting the 7Cs
If you want to put together a message that follows these guidelines, follow these simple tips to ensure that your communication is healthy and effective.
- Before you communicate, simplify your thoughts, and determine your goal.
- Remember that many words have multiple meanings. Choose them wisely to select the most appropriate for your message and to avoid possible misunderstandings. When in doubt, clarify your intent.
- Your message should be consistent throughout. Make sure to ask yourself, “Does this support my intent?”
- Be sure to use feedback to refine your communication. If the receiver is confused or upset, clarify your meaning, or point and ask for follow-up feedback.
- The method of transmission is important, too. Some messages are best sent through writing, while others are better discussed face-to-face. Choosing the wrong message can lead to problems later on.
- Communication is just about understanding others as they understand you. Make sure you are listening and observing just as much as you are talking.