EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION What is effective communication? • Effective communication is about more than just exchanging information. It's about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. As well as being able to clearly convey a message, you need to also listen in a way that gains the full meaning of what’s being said and makes the other person feel heard and understood. • More than just the words you use, effective communication combines a set of 4 skills: • • • • Engaged listening Nonverbal communication Managing stress in the moment Asserting yourself in a respectful way What’s stopping you from communicating effectively? • Stress and out-of-control emotion. When you’re stressed or emotionally overwhelmed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behavior. To avoid conflict and misunderstandings, you can learn how to quickly calm down before continuing a conversation. • Lack of focus. You can’t communicate effectively when you’re multitasking. If you’re checking your phone, planning what you’re going to say next, or daydreaming you’re almost certain to miss nonverbal cues in the conversation. To communicate effectively, you need to avoid distractions and stay focused. What’s stopping you from communicating effectively? • Inconsistent body language. Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said, not contradict it. If you say one thing, but your body language says something else, your listener will likely feel you’re being dishonest. For example, you can’t say “yes” while shaking your head no. • Negative body language. If you disagree with or dislike what’s being said, you may use negative body language to rebuff the other person’s message, such as crossing your arms, avoiding eye contact, or tapping your feet. You don’t have to agree, or even like what’s being said, but to communicate effectively and not make the other person defensive, it’s important to avoid sending negative signals. • Before we get into the process of communication, we need to understand that it's not always as simple as we think. To help us, let's look at two different examples. As we explain the cycle, we will refer to these examples. • First, during a casual text conversation with your friend, you talk about your weekend plans. You use short messages and at one point respond with "JK" for just kidding. This is simple communication you do every day and you rarely plan what you are going to say. • The second scenario is more in depth. Lily is the head of the junior class council, and she is working on planning prom. She plans on asking Maddie if she will be in charge of designing and distributing the invitations to students. She needs to find an appropriate time and place to ask Maddie, and she needs to determine what words she will use. The Communication Cycle Elements of the Communication Cycle • Sender • Message • Channel • Receiver • Feedback • Noise/ Interference • Context • Sender: The originator of the message. The sender can be an individual, small group, large group, or complex organization. The source must encode (the process of turning thought into a message using symbols) the message they want to put together. In a speech, the speaker is the sender. In our second example, Lily is the sender. • Message: Anything that is communicated. Can be verbal and non-verbal. In fact, some non-verbal communication is sent without the sender being aware. In the second example, Lily might start her message by complimenting Maddie on her dedication to the committee and explaining how the invitations are made- this would be the message. • Channel: What the message is sent through. In the first example, the channel is the phone. In the second example, Lilly will use face to face communication. • Receiver: The intended target of the message. The receiver can be an individual, small group, large group, or complex organization. It is the receiver's job to decode (break down for meaning) the message to determine what the sender means. In a speech, the audience is the receiver. In the second example, the receiver is Maddie. • Feedback: When the receiver has decoded the message, he/she must offer a response, making them the sender and beginning the cycle again. In the first example, "JK" was the feedback. In the second example, Maddie could offer simple feedback by agreeing to do the task, or she could offer nonverbal feedback by looking confused or upset. • Noise: Anything that keeps a message from being sent or received. In the second example, as Lily and Maddie are talking in the pod lab, the bell rings. Because of all the chatter in the lab and the hall, Lily's words are being drowned out and Maddie asks Lily to repeat what she said.