Quote of the Week

"Communication works for those who work at it."
~John Powell

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Communication Process and Effective Communication

The following are questions we in communications ponder as technology brings us more conveniences and more challenges:  How can you use the communications process to ensure effective communications? What technologies are currently used to enhance the effectiveness of communications today? What causes miscommunications?
One can ensure effective communications by simply considering all of the elements that make up the communication process.  No matter what form of communication we use we have to be conscious of our environment, feedback, we have to be aware of our own frame of reference as the message sender, be aware of the message we send and medium with which we send that message, as well be aware of the receiver and their frame of reference as the decoder.  We also have to consider noise, whether it is internal or external, because this cannot only determine whether or not a message will be received well or received accurately, but whether it will be received at all.  The communication process involves more than just sending and receiving messages because as we know the process is not that simple.  As the text states, “Your goal as a communicator should be to put yourself in your receiver’s shoes” (Roebuck, 2006, p. 77).  This reinforces the idea that if you want your message to be understood than you have to think about your audience and their needs in the communication process.
The text gives the following list of examples of technology that has enhanced communication today: email, cell phones, PDA’s, instant messengers, pagers, intranets, and facsimile (Roebuck, 2006, p. 2-7).  The text also mentions audio and video conferencing which has been made possible by podcasts (also known as webcasts).  Technology has also made possible the use of blogs and social networking which are powerful tools of communication today.  My personal favorites among this list are the cell phone, email and audio/video conferences.  My cell phone and email allow me to work from home and communicate while traveling when needed.  The other technology that I appreciate is audio/video conferencing.  This allows people from remote locations to see a presentation and communicate face to face in a sense.  It is, in my opinion, more effective to communicate when you can see who you are communicating with and this type of technology makes that possible.  Many of these technologies have enhanced the efficiency by which we communicate as well, but as we are learning, we do need to be mindful when using different forms of technology as means for communicating.  The important thing to remember is that all the old rules still apply along with some new ones as well.    
Miscommunications when using these types of communication are common and something I feel I battle with all too often.  Miscommunications occur because we forget the communication process and neglect any one of the elements required for effective communication.  The list of causes of miscommunication provided by the text is as follows: inferences, word-meaning confusion, differing perceptions, information overload and timing, nonverbal messages, noise, listening, personality differences, gender differences, and intercultural differences (Roebuck, 2006, p. 14-24).  The most valuable advice I read in this section was “As a communicator, you need to be careful not to let technology take over and become the end rather than the means.  Communication is a process, not an event” (Roebuck, 2006, p. 25). 
Reference
Roebuck, D.B. (2006). Improving business communicaiton skills. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Ltd.

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