Steps To Effective Communication

Effective CommunicationsEver since the evolution of civilization, homo-sapiens required some medium to exchange their thoughts amongst themselves. The process was defined as communication and various mediums were developed to facilitate it effectively, timely and safely. Now a day, apart from old school face-to-face conversations, people use e-mail, text messages and phone calls or chat-engines for communications. Even when these mediums are highly advanced, the basic ground rules of effective communication have not changed much. In fact, I personally feel that due to the technological advancements in the mediums of communication, the need to reinforce the basic etiquettes has become even more pivotal now.

So, there are personal communications and then there are business communications. You are the king of your personal life and mostly you are not judged on the basis of ways in which you handle things. But in professional life, opinions are being formed about you by watching your every action. In fact, in many cases, perceptions are formed just by seeing the way an e-mail has been written or in the way communication on telephone happened. For being successful, one needs to manage his image/perception in the right way apart from having the skill-set and determination. So, one needs to chisel down his communication skills in order to be successful and that effect will rub on the personal life also.

So, let us try to cover the three most used modes phone, texting and e-mail. I will talk about phone first because more often than not people find it extremely convenient to just pick up the phone and talk. In case, you are making a call, start with the greetings and introduce yourself briefly (in case you are speaking for the first time. Then before stating the agenda of the call, ask for the person for whom the call is. Listening actively and focusing on the person in conversation is the most important ingredient of a smooth telephonic conversation (both ways). Watch your volume level during the conversation because if you are talking that doesn’t gives you a license to disturb others.

An etiquette that one must follow while picking a call is that the receiver must receive it till it rings three times. Also, as per me one most abused etiquette during the telephonic conversation is that one party doesn’t informs the other before taking further actions as in putting on hold, connecting to some other person, taking in a conference or for that matter putting the phone in speaker mode. These mistakes leave a bad taste in the mind of other party. And finally, the conversation should not end abruptly. It must always end on a closing note such as ‘Have a nice day’. It is advisable that one must not leave long voicemails. Just state the reason that you called and ask them to revert as soon as possible. That’s it!!

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Now, what happens if you call somebody but they are not available and you need to convey your message immediately? Texting comes in for the rescue. However, please note that texting is not a formal mode of communication. Importantly, if your message is more than 160 characters, you should switch to other mode of communication. It is advisable that you should tell that who you are in the very beginning if you have even miniscule doubt that the recipient might not have saved your contact. Mind your tone while texting because in no way you can repair the damage done to your image/relation once the recipient gets offended by the tone of your text. The best way to avoid such miss-happening is by being crisp, simple and to the point during texting. Lastly, proofread every word of your text before hitting send button to avoid embarrassing situations later. Etiquette wise, you can reply to a text in the next 48 hours and you should try to reply as many texts as possible.

Lastly, the most extensively used tool for the communication, the e-mail. If you are drafting a fresh e-mail, always start with greetings. Please…please…please try to avoid typos!!! They make you look very unprofessional along with using shortcuts like u (for ‘you’), dere (for ‘there’) etc. Make it a habit of mentioning subject. Usage of a professional e-mail address is advisable in place of funky e-mail addresses if you are communicating via your personal e-mail id. Don’t overuse the high priority option. It is provided there for a purpose. Don’t abuse it by using it in every e-mail of yours otherwise recipients won’t even open your e-mails. Use your signature to give opportunity to the recipients to know more about you by giving links of your social media profiles.

While replying to-mails please don’t use ‘reply to all’ feature until it is seriously required. I am sure you would agree that not everybody wants to know your opinion. Also, in ‘to’ list keep the persons from whom you are expecting a response and ‘cc’ only those for whom the communication concerned is for information purpose. Be sure to include the information to which you are replying for keeping a track of the communication. Always try to personalize the communication by using active voice during communication instead of passive voice.

Before forwarding e-mail, please have the basic courtesy of cleaning it because the recipients might not be interested in reading the commentary of earlier recipients. And don’t forget to proofread the e-mail in any case before sending it. Generally, ask before sending any attachment to the recipient as in what will be the appropriate time to send the attachment. The recipients might get offended if you sent attachment without asking and it resulted in bouncing of some important mails for the recipient.

Thus, in a nutshell, a communication is effective only when it has solved its purpose without causing any inconvenience to other parties and to self. I hope, you will double tick all the above-discussed points before doing any corporate communication in your respective careers. All the best!

Contributed by Sthita Sahu

Non Verbal Communication: How much are u missing??

Non Verbal CommunicationEffective communication is 20% of what you say and 80% of what you make feel” – JIM ROHN

Non verbal Communication is extremely complex yet integral part of overall communication skills, usually, people are totally unaware of the non-verbal behavior they use. A basic awareness of Non Verbal communication strategies over and above can help to improve interaction with others. Knowledge of this can be used to encourage people to talk about their concerns and can lead to a greater understanding.

It includes facial expressions, tone of voice, body language and distance between communicators. It helps people in reinforcing what is said in words, convey information about their emotional state, provides feedback to other person, regulates the flow of communication and most importantly, defines the relationship between people.

Many people understand that non –verbal communication is mere a language that can be learned but the implications are that the real feelings and intentions of a person can’t be understood. Interpretation of non verbal language is not very easy. It is further complicated if the interpretation is not done accurately. It is complete package of expression, hand and eye movement, postures and gestures.

These are basically categorized as:

  • Body movements
  • Postures and gestures
  • Eye contact
  • Facial Expression
  • Personal space
  • Parallel Language

Body Movements:  It Includes hand and body movements. It can be used to reinforce what a person is saying and also offer information about the emotions and attitude of a person. There are different categories with which a skilled observer can detect such discrepancies in behavior and use them as a clue to what someone is really feeling. Consider how your perceptions of people are affected by the way they sit, walk, stand up, or hold their head. The way you move and carry yourself communicates a wealth of information to the world.

Postures and gestures: Postures can reflect person’s emotions, attitude and intentions. These are often unintentional moves which can conflict with what is being said sometimes. Gestures are also used to give feedback when conversing. Gestures are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. We wave, point, beckon, and use our hands when we’re arguing or speaking animatedly—expressing ourselves with gestures often without thinking. However, the meaning of gestures can be very different across cultures and regions, so it’s important to be careful to avoid misinterpretation

Eye Contact:  It is a very important aspect of non verbal language. Since the visual sense is dominant for most people, eye contact is an especially important type of nonverbal communication. The way you look at someone can communicate many things, including interest, affection, hostility, or attraction. Eye contact is also important in maintaining the flow of conversation and for gauging the other person’s response.It is used to give and receive Feedback, to let a person know when their turn to speak is. It is also used to communicate something about a relationship between people.

Facial Expressions: The human face is extremely expressive, able to express countless emotions without saying a word. And unlike some forms of nonverbal communication, facial expressions are universal. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. When someone is talking, changes in the facial expressions can be easily noticed and people respond accordingly. These include raising your eyebrows, yawning, nodding, rolling your eyes, sneering, gaping etc.

Personal space: Have you ever noticed the way a loving couple relates to each other. You will see that their positions match as if they both are mirror reflection of each other. For eg: If one partner drapes his arm around others neck, the other partner will also do the same.  This indicates the trust and approval between people. Every culture has different levels of physical closeness depending upon the type of relationship.  It today’s society, it is important to consider non verbal codes.

Parallel language: It relates to the voice which is not the part of the verbal communication. It includes the tone and the pitch of the voice, the volume, the pauses, the hesitation and the speed. These signals indicate the feelings like sounds indicate anger etc. It’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it. When we speak, other people “read” our voices in addition to listening to our words. Things they pay attention to include your timing and pace, how loud you speak, your tone and inflection, and sounds that convey understanding, such as “ahh” and “uh-huh.” Think about how someone’s tone of voice, for example, can indicate sarcasm, anger, affection, or confidence

The effects of Nonverbal Communication can send a strong signal in spite of the words you use. It can

  • Repeat your message already delivered verbally.
  • Add to the meaning of your message which can either be positive or negative
  • Contradict to what you are saying

Relationships lot depends on the non verbal communication. The quality of your relationship can be improved if used skillfully or can deteriorate if used unwisely. Trust, care, love, respect can easily be communicated with nonverbal language.

Simply put, Non verbal communication includes all the ways you present and express yourself, apart from the words one speak. Non verbal messages are sent from ones emotional brain, they create more honest and concrete message.

Non verbal communication is effective for everybody in all spheres of life. To example some, Professionals use non verbal language to evaluate their clients, customers and co workers. In relationships success depends on the effective language used by both of them.

Effective non verbal communication is critically also very important in career advancements. It reveals your confidence, Enthusiasm and professionalism.

To Conclude, Good communication is foundation of any successful relationship. It is important to recognize that its non verbal communication that speak the boldest. The ability to understand and use effective non verbal communication is a powerful tool that can help you connect with others, express what to really mean and build better relationships.

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” – Peter F. Drucker

Contributed by Shilpa Aggarwal Gupta ( Class of 2005, IBS HYDERABAD )

Clear Communication, Effective Impression

Clear Communication- Effective Impression

Almost every soul in the class was trying hard to understand and comprehend what Vikas was stating. Those who were in no mood to wrack their brains went into deep slumbers. The presentation was on a particular topic in Human Resource Management. The team presenting their views on the topic with the help of audio-visual aids undoubtedly had worked hard but Vikas was turning out to be a wet blanket.

Vikas, a bright and promising student was trying to deliver his part of the presentation with utmost zeal and enthusiasm but every word he was speaking made audience lose interest and finally when it got over, the loud voice of the mentor had brought everyone back to senses. Vikas was left dumbfounded and was wondering what went wrong. He had worked against time to make it a grand success as it had some value as far as internal marks were concerned. Anyways, dejected he assumed his seat and went in a state of confusion. “Were my peers unable to understand and comprehend what I spoke? But why?”

This is not something new, in fact, it is quite common in classrooms. Being a B-school student myself, I had encountered this problem several times and it had left me completely drained. Master in Business Administration (MBA) involves and demands effective communication and interpersonal skills, no matter which field you major in such as Finance, Marketing or Human Resources. Majority of us work sincerely on honing our communication skills but often ignore some few basic facts and our efforts go to waste.

 Many of us have a fair command over the universal language, English but we all tend to improve upon it. Editorial pages of Economic Times, magazines like Business Today along with novellas and novels become an integral part of our lives. It makes us better informed but it takes a great deal to become an effective communicator. I seek to share a few useful aspects which I learned from my own follies and try to avoid in when I present something.

  • Being too verbose can be an overkill

Here I would like to mention my own student life and some personal instances. I started learning new words, phrases and expressions  and  soon  they  found  space  not  only  in  all  my  writings  but  also verbally. New and difficult words became a part and parcel of my vocabulary of daily use and soon I got addicted to it, without realizing when and how to use them.

I did not pay any heed to this aspect and would be really engrossed in learning new words and expanding my vocabulary with each passing day. I used to get immense  pleasure when my friends were unable to understand the umpteen words which I would use and I would fill them in with the meaning. My peers congratulated me on my impressive vocabulary every now and then. My sense feeling of pride was going out of bounds but I did not care much.

I got the biggest jolt when I was delivering a presentation. In a particular paragraph on one of the slides, I had  mentioned- ‘When companies adopt Blue Ocean Strategy, they cannot afford to be pusillanimous and once they enter a new market, it is not so easy to elope’. Majority of my peers started scratching their heads looking at the first bold word. I had to explain that it meant non-courageous but soon the entire class including my mentor burst into uncontrollable peals of laughter.

I was getting hyperactive when one of my friends pointed out- “Brother, elope means to escape”. That’s what I had meant which was why my tone was filled with agony and anger. “Escape with a person”- he continued and started smiling. I looked at my mentor and apologized. Do remember friends, use simple and effective words which are relevant to the context you wish to bring to others notice. We do not join the course to become a litterateur.MBA Graduates

  • Be thorough, Be confident

When you start talking about any topic, discuss any issue or simply deliver a presentation on any topic, make sure that whatever information you are sharing is accurate, updated and precise. There will be many instances when your peers will put up a counter question or simply question the authenticity of the information provided. It can be truly genuine or simply concocted.

If you know that you have delivered accurate information, be confident and face your peers putting valid points and evidence to support your points. If you are not unsure about the accuracy of the facts, be confident and mention that you will check about it and revert. Never ever surrender your guns and start apologizing. But yes, if anyone from the audience puts forward enough and real evidence to support their point, never hesitate even for a nanosecond to admit your mistake and thank them profusely.

Further, you should never digress from the main topic. You may share your viewpoints with others but need to link the information provided in such a way that  it  appears coherent, related and relevant in all respects.

  • Be natural and conversant

It has happened to me numerous times that my presentation appears to be incredible but when I start delivering or discussing about it, it becomes utterly boring and uninteresting. Capturing audience is an art which you need to be dexterous at. Be natural, simple, conversant and clear in what you intend to convey. Using personal incidents, experiences and anecdotes makes it more conversational, arresting and appealing.

In the end, I must admit that I have not scribbled something which you do not know, have not heard or experienced but this is a tiny write-up to reinforce what you subconsciously are aware of but if followed religiously, it will be of immense use and help. You may turn into an effective and impressive communicator in a real sense. Learn from your experiences as everyone does but learn from others sermons as well.

 Wish you luck!

Contributed by Vineet Mani (Class of 2010,IBS GURGAON )