Communication Tools

Communication can be defined in many ways. In simple terms communication is:

  • Information transmitted
  • A verbal or nonverbal message
  • A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior

There are four basic communication tools:

1. Listening

Listening is where all good communication begins. Most people are born with good hearing, but not good listening skills. Listening must be learned. Listening is a mental process requiring effort, and we can learn how to be good listeners. First, we need to understand what the barriers are to good listening skills. Then, we can identify ways to improve those skills.

Misunderstanding what another person is saying is one of the biggest obstacles to communication. Each of us sees the world in a unique way, and we usually assume that everyone sees it the same way we do.

Hearing is natural. Listening is a skill that we learn. Remember: we listen more than any other human activity except breathing!

2. Speaking

It is essential that one keeps the following rules in mind while speaking with colleagues or subordinate

  • Keep the message clear
  • Be prepared
  • Keep the message simple
  • Be vivid when delivering the message
  • Be natural
  • Keep the message concise

3. Reading

Good reading habits and strategies help managers handle their tasks more efficiently. Kellie Fowler (Reading Strategies – Mind Tools) offers the following seven reading strategies to managers for optimal results:

  1. Knowing what is needed to be known, and reading appropriately
  2. Knowing how deeply to read the document: skimming, scanning or studying
  3. Using active reading techniques to pick out key points and keeping the mind focused on the material
  4. Using the table of contents for reading magazines and newspapers, and clipping useful articles
  5. Understanding how to extract information from different article types
  6. Creating a table of contents for reviewing material
  7. Using indexes, tables of contents and glossaries to help assimilate technical information

4. Writing

Traditionally, written communication has meant letters and memos, perhaps even casual notes written on a greeting card. In recent years written communication has been extended to include faxes, email, and Web pages. No matter what your job, you will find the need to write at one time or another.

All the four communication tools mentioned above can be learned and improved. One must have the willingness to improve the communication skills. Understand them; recognize their importance in the communication process. And finally, practice good skills to become a better and more effective communicator.

Crisp and correct writing is essential to successful leadership communication.

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