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Communication Communication is the process of sharing information. In a simplistic form information is sent from a sender or encoder to a receiver or decoder.

In a more complex form feedback links a sender to a receiver. This requires a symbolic activity, sometimes via a language. Communication as a named and unified discipline has a history of contestation that goes back to the Socratic dialogues, in many ways making it the first and most contestatory of all early sciences and philosophies. Seeking to define "communication" as a static word or unified discipline may not be as important as understanding communication as a family of resemblances with a plurality of definitions as Ludwig Wittgenstein had put forth. Some definitions are broad, recognizing that animals can communicate with each other as well as human beings, and some are narrower, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction. Nonetheless, communication is usually described along three major dimensions: content, form, and destination.

With the presence of "communication noise" these three components of communication often become skewed and inaccurate. Between parties, communication content includes acts that declare knowledge and experiences, give advice and commands, and ask questions. These acts may take many forms, including gestures (nonverbal communication, sign language and body language), writing, or verbal speaking. The form depends on the symbol systems used.

Together, communication content and form make messages that are sent towards a destination. The target can be oneself, another person (in interpersonal communication), or another entity (such as a corporation or group). There are many theories of communication, and a commonly held assumption is that communication must be directed towards another person or entity. This essentially ignores intrapersonal communication (note intra-, not inter-) via diaries or selftalk. Interpersonal conversation can occur in dyads and groups of various sizes, and the size of the group impacts the nature of the talk. Small-group communication takes place in settings of between three and 12 individuals, and differs from large group interaction in companies or communities. This form of communication formed by a dyad and larger is sometimes referred to as the psychological model of communication where a message is sent by a sender through channel to a receiver. At the largest level, mass communication describes messages sent to huge numbers of individuals through mass media, although there is debate if this is an interpersonal conversation.

Communication media

The following model of communication has been criticized and revised. The beginning of human communication through artificial channels, i.e. not vocalization or gestures, goes back to ancient cave paintings, drawn maps, and writing. Our indebtedness to the Ancient Romans in the field of communication does not end with the Latin root "communicare". 2

They devised what might be described as the first real mail or postal system in order to centralize control of the empire from Rome. This allowed for personal letters and for Rome to gather knowledge about events in its many widespread provinces. In the last century, a revolution in telecommunications has greatly altered communication by providing new media for long distance communication. The first transatlantic two-way radio broadcast occurred on July 25, 1920 and led to common communication via analogue and digital media: Analog telecommunications include traditional Telephony, radio, and TV broadcasts. Digital telecommunications allow for computer-mediated communication, telegraphy, and computer networks. Communications media impact more than the reach of messages. They impact content and customs; for example, Thomas Edison had to discover that hello was the least ambiguous greeting by voice over a distance; previous greetings such as hail tended to be garbled in the transmission. Similarly, the terseness of e-mail and chat rooms produced the need for the emoticon. Modern communication media now allow for intense long-distance exchanges between larger numbers of people (many-to-many communication via e-mail, Internet forums). On the other hand, many traditional broadcast media and mass media favor one-to-many communication (television, cinema, radio, newspaper, magazines). The adoption of a dominant communication medium is important enough that historians have folded civilization into "ages" according to the medium most widely used. A book titled "Five Epochs of Civilization" by William McGaughey (Thistlerose, 2000) divides history into the following stages: Ideographic writing produced the first civilization; 3

alphabetic writing, the second; printing, the third; electronic recording and broadcasting, the fourth; and computer communication, the fifth.

While it could be argued that these "Epochs" are just a historian's construction, digital and computer communication shows concrete evidence of changing the way humans organize. The latest trend in communication, termed smart mobbing, involves ad-hoc organization through mobile devices, allowing for effective many-to-many communication and social networking.

Communication barriers

The following factors can impede human communication: Not understanding the language Verbal and non-verbal messages are in a different language. This includes not understanding the jargon or idioms used by another sub-culture or group. Not understanding the context Not knowing the history of the occasion, relationship, or culture. Obfuscation Intentionally delivering an obscure or confusing message. Distraction Inadequate attention to processing a message. This is not limited to live conversations or broadcasts. Any person may improperly process any message if they do not focus adequately.

This is why an interactive form of communication, one with lots of questions and answers for clarity, would be best so it is easier to stay involved in the message and to have less miscommunication.; Improper feedback and clarification: In asynchronous communication, neglecting to give immediate feedback may lead to larger misunderstandings. Questions and acknowledgment such as ("what?") or ("I see") are typical feedback mechanisms. Lack of time There is not enough time to communicate with everyone. Physics Physical barriers to the transmission of messages, such as background noise, facing the wrong way, talking too softly, and physical distance. Medical issues Hearing loss and various brain conditions can hamper communication. Beliefs World-views may discourage one person from listening to another. Emotions Fear and anxiety associated with communication is known by some Psychologists as communication apprehension. Besides apprehension, communication can be impaired via processes such as bypassing, indiscrimination, and polarization.

Other examples of communication

Silence Almost all communication involves periods of silence or an equivalent (e.g. spaces in written communication). However, computer or electronic communication is less reliant on such delimiters. In certain contexts, silence can convey its own meaning, e.g. reverence, indifference, emotional coldness, rudeness, thoughtfulness, humility, aggressiveness, etc. Artificial Jungle drums Smoke signals Morse code Semaphore (A visual system for sending information by means of two flags that are held one in each hand, using an alphabetic code based on the position of the signaler's arms.) Voyager Golden Record (sent on Voyager 1 into interstellar space) Photography Art (including Theatre)

Biological Written and spoken language Hand signals Body language Territorial marking (animals such as dogs - stay away from my territory)(and when you place a back pack in a desk in a class room or a purse on, the place you want to sit in at church or putting a name plate on the door of your office) Pheromones communicate (amongst other things) (e.g. "I'm ready to mate") - a well known example is moth traps, which contain pheromones to attract moths. Touch

Language A language is a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures or written symbols which communicate thoughts or feelings.

Human spoken and written languages can be described as a system of symbols (sometimes known as lexemes) and the grammars (rules) by which the symbols are manipulated. The word "language" is also used to refer to common properties of languages. Language learning is normal in human childhood. Most human languages use patterns of sound or gesture for symbols which enable communication with others around them. There are thousands of human languages, and these seem to share certain properties, even though many shared properties have exceptions. There is no defined line between a language and a dialect, but Max Weinreich is credited as saying that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy. Humans and computer programs have also constructed other languages, including constructed languages such as Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, Klingon, programming languages, and various mathematical formalisms. These languages are not necessarily restricted to the properties shared by human languages.

Mass media Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). It was coined in the 1920s with the advent of nationwide radio networks and of mass-circulation newspapers and magazines. The mass-media audience has been viewed by some commentators as forming a mass society with special characteristics, notably atomization or lack of social connections, which render it especially susceptible to the influence of modern mass-media techniques such as advertising and propaganda.

Telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication.

Today this process almost always involves the sending of electromagnetic waves by electronic transmitters but in earlier years it may have involved the use of smoke signals, drums or semaphores. Today, telecommunication is widespread and devices that assist the process such as the television, radio and telephone are common in many parts of the world. There is also a vast array of networks that connect these devices, including computer networks, public telephone networks, radio networks and television networks. Computer communication across the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging, is just one of many examples of telecommunication.

Animal communication Animal communication is any behaviour on the part of one animal that has an effect on the current or future behaviour of another animal. The animal communication, called zoosemiotics (distinguishable from anthroposemiotics, the study of human communication) has played an important part in the development of ethology, sociobiology, and the study of animal cognition. This is quite evident as humans are able to communicate with animals especially dolphins and other animals used in circuses however these animals have to learn a special means of communication. Animal communication, and indeed the understanding of the animal world in general, is a rapidly growing field, and even in the 21st century so far, many prior understandings related to diverse fields such as personal symbolic name use, animal emotions, animal culture and learning, and even sexual conduct, long thought to be well understood, have been revolutionized.

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THE BASIC FORMS OF COMMUNICATION


NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION If you were applying for a job, you would know almost as soon as you walked in the door whether you wanted to work for a particular company. Even if you spent the first five minutes sitting in a reception area, you would see and hear things that would tell you an enormous amount about the corporate culture. The most basic form of communication is nonverbal. Anthropologists theorize that long before human beings used words to talk things over, our ancestors communicated with one another by using their bodies. They gritted their teeth to show anger; they smiled and touched one another to indicate affection. Although we have come a long way since those primitive times, we still use nonverbal cues to express superiority, dependence, dislike, respect, love, and other feelings. Nonverbal communication differs from verbal communication in fundamental ways. For one thing, it is less structured, which makes it more difficult to study. A person can pick up a book on nonverbal language and master the vocabulary of gestures, expressions, and inflections that are common in our culture. We dont really know how people learn nonverbal behaviour. No one teaches a baby to cry or smile, yet these forms of self-expression are almost universal. Other types of nonverbal communication, such as the meaning of colours and certain gestures, vary from culture to culture.

Nonverbal communication also differs from verbal communication in terms of intent and spontaneity. We generally plan our words. When we say anything we have a conscious purpose. We think about the message, if only for a moment. But when we communicate nonverbally, we sometimes do so unconsciously. Without our consent, our emotions are written all over our faces. Why nonverbal communication is important Although nonverbal communication is often unplanned, it has more impact than verbal communication. Nonverbal cues are especially important in conveying feelings, accounting for 93 percent of the emotional meaning that is exchanged in any interaction. In fact, nonverbal communication is so powerful that it actually releases mood-altering chemicals in the sender as well as in the receiver. One reason for the power of nonverbal communication is its reliability. Most people can deceive us much more easily with words than they can with their bodies. Words are relatively easy to control; body language, facial expressions, and vocal characteristics are not. By paying attention to these nonverbal cues, we can detect deception or affirm a speakers honesty. Not surprisingly, we have more faith in nonverbal cues than we do in verbal messages. If a person says one thing but transmits a conflicting message nonverbally, we almost invariably believe the nonverbal signal. If you can read other peoples nonverbal messages correctly, you can interpret their underlying attitudes and intentions and respond appropriately. Successful people generally share this ability. A recent study involved 1,000 school children who were tested on their ability to determine whether people were happy, sad, angry, and so forth on the basis of their expressions.

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The students who scored lowest on the test were among the least popular children in their class and were also less successful academically, even though they were just as intelligent as their peers. Their inability to read other peoples reactions prevented them from adjusting their behaviour to improve their relationships. Nonverbal communication is important for another reason: it can be efficient from both the senders and the receivers standpoint. You can transmit a nonverbal message without even thinking about it, and your audience can register the meaning unconsciously. At the same time, when you have a conscious purpose, you can often achieve it more economically with a gesture than you can with words. A wave of the hand, a pat on the back, a wink all area streamlined expressions of thought. The varieties of nonverbal communication According to one estimate, there are over 700,000 forms of nonverbal communication. These forms can be grouped into general categories: facial expressions and eye behaviour , gestures and postures, vocal characteristics, personal appearance, touching behaviour, and use of time and space. Researchers have drawn some interesting conclusions about the meaning of certain nonverbal signals. But remember that the meaning of nonverbal communication is in the observer, who both reads specific signals and interprets them in the context of the particular situation. Facial expressions and eye behaviour The face is the primary site for the expression of certain nonverbal expression of emotion, revealing both the type and the intensity of a persons feelings. A persons eyes are especially effective as a tool of communication. They can be used to indicate attention and interest, to influence others, to regulate interaction, and to establish dominance. Although the eyes and the face are usually a reliable source of meaning; people sometimes manipulate their expressions to stimulate an emotion they do not feel or to mask their true feelings. Gestures and postures By moving their bodies, people can express both specific and general messages, some of which are voluntary and some of which are involuntary. 11

Many gestures have a specific and intentional meaning; other types of body movement are unintentional and express a more general message. These unconscious signals reveal whether a person feels confident or nervous or hostile, assertive or passive, powerful or powerless. Vocal characteristics Like body language, a persons voice carries both intentional and unintentional messages. On a conscious level, we can use our voices to create various impressions. However, your vocal characteristics also reveal many things that you are unaware of. The tone and volume of your voice, your accent and speaking pace, and all the little ums and ahs that creep into your speech say a lot about who you are, your relationship with the audience, and the emotions underlying your words. Personal appearance An individuals appearance helps establish his or her social identity. People respond to us on the basis of our physical attractiveness. Because we see ourselves as others see us, these expectations are often a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our grooming, our clothing, our accessories, our style all modify our appearance. If your goal is to make a good impression, adopt the style of the people you want to impress. In most businesses, a professional image is appropriate. But some companies or industries are more casual. Touching behaviour Touch is an important vehicle for conveying warmth, comfort, and reassurance. Even the most casual contact can create positive feelings. Perhaps because it implies intimacy, touching behaviour is governed by relatively strict customs that establish who can touch whom, and how, in various circumstances.

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The accepted norms vary, depending on the gender, age, relative status, and cultural background of the individuals involved. In business situations, touching suggests dominance, and so a higher-status person is more likely to touch a lower-status person than the other way around. Use of time and space Like touch, time and space can be used to assert authority. In many cultures, people demonstrate their importance by making other people wait; they show respect by being on time. However, attitudes toward punctuality are cultural. In North America, being on time is a mark of good manners; in other places, it is more polite to be somewhat late. People can also assert their status by occupying the best space. In US companies, the chief executive usually has the corner office and the prettiest view. Apart from serving as a symbol of status, space determines how comfortable people feel talking with each other. When people stand too close or too far away, we feel ill at ease. The comfort zone varies from culture to culture. Spatial zones are different for women and men. Women initially approach more closely, prefer sideby-side conversations, allow other women to be closer than men, men have more face-to-face conversations, tend to stand closer to women than women feel comfortable etc Intimate Personal Social Public Distance

VERBAL COMMUNICATION

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Although you can express many things nonverbally, there are limits to what you can communicate without the help of language. If you want to discuss past events, ideas, or abstractions, you need words symbols that stand for thoughts arranged in meaningful patterns. In the English language, we have a growing pool of words, currently about 750,000, although most of us recognize only about 20,000 of them. To create a thought with these words, we arrange them according to the rules of grammar, putting the various parts of speech in the proper sequence. We then transmit the message in spoken or written form, anticipating that someone will hear or read what we have to say. Oral versus written communication channels

30% Listening Reading Writing Speaking 9%

45%

16%

As the above picture illustrates, business people tend to prefer oral communication channels to written ones. Its generally quicker and more convenient to talk to somebody than to write a memo or letter. Furthermore, when youre speaking or listening, you can pick up added meaning from nonverbal cues and benefit from immediate feedback. On the other hand, relying too heavily on oral communication can cause problems in a company.

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Reception versus transmission The above picture illustrates another interesting fact: people spend more time receiving information than transmitting it. Listening and reading are every bit as important as speaking and writing. Unfortunately, most of us are not very good listeners. Immediately after hearing a ten-minute speech, we typically remember only half of what was said. A few days later, weve forgotten threequarters of the message. Worse, we often miss the subtle, underlying meaning entirely. To some extend, our listening problems stem from our education, or lack of it. We spend years learning to express our ideas, but few of us ever take a course in listening. At the same time, our reading skills often leave a good deal to be desired. Recent studies indicate that approximately 20 percent of the adults in the United States are functionally illiterate; 14 percent cannot fill out a check properly; 38 percent have trouble reading the help wanted ads in newspapers; and 26 percent cant figure out the deductions listed on their paychecks. Even those who read adequately often do not know how to read effectively. They have trouble extracting the important points from a document, so they cannot make the most of the information contained in the document. Although listening and reading obviously differ, both require a similar approach. The first step is to register the information, which means that you must tune out distractions and focus your attention. You must then interpret and evaluate the information, respond in some fashion, and file away the data for future reference. The most important part of this process is interpretation and evaluation, which is no easy matter. While absorbing the material, you must decide what is important and what isnt. One approach is to look for the main ideas and the most important supporting details, rather than trying to remember everything you read or hear. If you can discern the structure of the material, you can also understand the relationship among the ideas.

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If you are listening as opposed to reading, you have the advantage of being able to ask questions and interact with the speaker.

Ten tips for communicating successfully with a global audience In your job you may have occasion to communicate with people in other countries or from other cultures. Whether you are buying, selling, consulting, or simply trying to obtaining information, you will need to get across ideas to an audience you are not used to dealing with. Just as you need to understand the characteristics of your audience when you communicate with others from your own country, you need to understand something about the culture, business customs, and communication styles of foreign audiences. Here are ten tips to assist you in your intercultural communications: Be clear and simple. Whether communicating orally or in writing, avoid long, complex sentences, highly technical language, jargon, and colloquialisms. Dont be condescending, but do use simpler words when they are available (pay rather than compensate, soon rather than momentarily). Dont assume that someone you hear speaking English will understand you. If you talk too fast, slur your words, have an accent, or use slang, even a foreigner who seems to speak impeccable English will have a hard time following you. An added problem is that many English-speaking foreigners are too polite to let you know they havent understood. Learn the business customs and terminology of those youll be communicating with. Most countries, for example, use the metric system, unlike the system measurement used in the United States. And many countries use the day/month/year system for dating opposed to the U.S. system of month/day/year. A meeting arranged in one of these countries on 7.5.05 is scheduled for May not for July.

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Use written messages whenever possible. Foreigners read English more easily than they understand spoken English. If you communicate by phone, follow up with a confirmation in writing to guard against miscommunication.

Dont be in a hurry to get to the point. Europeans, Africans, and Arabs, in particular, are put off by the straight-to-the-point style of North American business communication. They prefer a more roundabout approach. The French, for example, like to have time to digest information and ideas and tend to look on a letter as only one in a series.

Dont ask questions that require a yes or no answer. Whereas North Americans tend to say yes when they mean yes and no when they mean no, thats simply not the case in most other cultures. In Asian countries, for example, it is considered impolite to say no, so Asians may answer affirmatively if only to mean Yes, I heard you. (The Japanese have more than a dozen ways to avoid saying no.) Europeans, on the other hand, may initially react negatively to any question, but they actually mean maybe or it depends. In many countries, the answer you get is what the person thinks you want to hear.

Learn about the countrys body language. Gestures have various meanings in different places. In Romania, turning the head from side to side means yes; in Japan, looking someone in the eye is considered judgmental or hostile; and in Ghana, thumbs up is a rude gesture. To avoid giving offence, keep your hands quiet.

Control your style of expression. The North American style of expressing emotions is considered impulsive and wild by Asians but restrained and cold by Latin Americans. You need to be aware of how your habits of emotional expression will affect people in a particular culture.

Dont interrupt periods of silence. Many foreigners are offended by the North American penchant for jumping in to fill any gaps in a conversation. Speakers in many cultures enjoy periods of silence and use them to gather their thoughts. Be patient. Allow the person to formulate what he or she wants to say, and try not to be helpful by putting words into the other persons mouth.

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Use an interpreter or a translator. Whenever possible, have your messages translated into the other persons language. A translated letter is more likely to be read sooner and by the right person than one in Romanian, and your message is more likely to be understood as intended. When choosing an interpreter or translator, be sure to find someone familiar with both cultures and with the terminology of your business.

The process of communication Whether you are speaking or writing, listening or reading, communication is more than a single act. Instead, it is a chain of events that can be broken into five phases, as follows: 1. The sender has an idea; 2. The idea becomes a message; 3. The message is transmitted; 4. The receiver gets the message; 5. The receiver reacts and sends feedback to the sender. Then the process is repeated until both parties have finished expressing themselves. Communication is effective only when each step is successful.

Special problems of business communication Although all communication is subject to misunderstandings, business communication is particularly difficult. The material is often complex and controversial, yet both the sender and the receiver may face distractions that divert their attention. Furthermore, the opportunities for feedback are often limited, making it difficult to correct misunderstandings. When the message finally does reach the receiver, he or she may be unable to digest it in peace. You may have to compete with a variety of interruptions. The phone rings every five minutes, people intrude, meetings are called, and crises arise. In short, you rarely have the benefit of the receivers undivided attention. Your message may be picked up and put down several times.

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HOW TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION Think about the people you know. Which of them would you call successful communicators? What do these people have in common? Chances are, the individuals on your list share five qualities: Perception. They are able to predict how their message will be received. They anticipate your reaction and shape the message accordingly. They read your response correctly and constantly adjust to correct any misunderstanding. Precision. They create a meeting of the minds. When they finish expressing themselves, you share the same mental picture. Credibility. They are believable. You have faith in the substance of their message. You trust their information and their intentions. Control. They shape your response. Depending on their purpose, they can make you laugh or cry, calm down, change your mind, or take action. Congeniality. They maintain friendly, pleasant relations with the audience. Regardless of whether you agree with them, good communications command your respect and goodwill. You are willing to work with them again, despite your differences.

What sets the effective communicators apart is their ability to overcome the main barriers to communication. They do this by creating their message carefully, minimizing noise in the transmission process, and facilitating feedback. Create the Message Carefully If you want the people in your audience to understand and accept your message, you have to help. You cannot depend on others to carry the communication ball.

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Think about your purpose and your audience The first step is to define your goal in communicating. Why are you sending your message? What do you want your audience to do or know as a consequence? When you have answered these questions, you can begin to build a message to achieve your purpose. You must create a bridge of words that leads the audience from their current position to your point. Before you can do this, of course, you have to know something about the audiences current position. What do they know now, and what do they need to know?

If you are addressing strangers, try to find out more about them; if thats impossible, try to project yourself into their position by using your common sense and imagination. Tell the audience what to expect Once you have defined your readers or listeners information needs, you can launch them on their journey toward the intended destination. As they travel, you must be their guide, providing them with a map of the territory they will cover. Tell them at the outset what they can expect to gain from the trip. Let them know the purpose of the message; tell them what main points they will encounter on the way. Even if you do not want to reveal controversial ideas at the beginning of the message, you can still give receivers a preview of the topics you plan to cover. By telling your audience what to expect, you help them recognize the relationship among the ideas you hope to convey. When they encounter individual facts and thoughts, they can then fit them into a rational framework. By telling the audience how to categorize the information in your message, you eliminate one of the main barriers to communication: the discrepancy between your mental filling system and theirs. In

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addition, you make it easier for the audience to cope with the distractions that occur in most environments. Use concrete, specific language Because business communication often involves difficult, abstract, and even boring material, you must do something to help your audience understand and remember the message. The best way to do this is to balance the general concepts with specific illustrations. At the beginning, state the overall idea; then develop that idea by using vivid, concrete examples to help the audience visualize the concept. The most memorable words are the ones that create a picture in the receivers mind by describing colours, objects, scents, sounds, tastes. Specific details can also be vivid. Stick to the point You can also help your audience by eliminating any information that doesnt directly contribute to your purpose. Many business messages contain too much material. The sender, in hopes of being thorough, tries to explain everything there is to know about a subject. But most receivers dont need everything there is to know about a subject. All they need are a few pertinent facts, enough information to answer their questions or facilitate their decisions.

By keeping your messages as lean as possible, you make them easier to absorb. With few exceptions, one page is better than two, especially in a business environment where the receiver is bombarded by competing claims for attention. By eliminating unnecessary ideas, you focus the others persons thoughts on those few points that really matter. You have to be careful, however, to develop each main idea adequately. Youre better off covering three points thoroughly rather than eight points superficially. Dont rush the audience through a laundry list of vague generalities in the mistaken belief that you are being brief. If an idea is worth including, its worth explaining. 21

Connect new information to existing ideas The mind absorbs information by categorizing it into mental files. If you want the receiver to understand and remember new ideas, you have to indicate how those ideas are related to the files that already exist in her or his mind. When the connection with familiar concepts is lacking, the new material tends to get lost, to become mentally misplaced, because it doesnt fit into the receivers filing cabinet. By showing the audience how new ideas relate to familiar ones, you increase the likelihood that your message will be understood correctly. The audience can say: Oh yes, I see. We can market the new cosmetics line the way we did nylon stockings. Were trying to reach the same consumer. The meaning of the new concept is clarified by its relationship on the subject; all she or he has to do is apply it to the new idea. Connecting new ideas to existing ones also helps make the new concepts acceptable. Most of us approach anything unfamiliar with caution. When we discover that its similar to something familiar, we become more confident. We pick it up and look it over more carefully and then take it home with us. It becomes part of our collection, one of many related things. Emphasize and review key points Another way to help the audience is to call attention to the most important points of your message. You can do this with your words, your format, and you body language. When you come to an important idea, say so. By explicitly stating that an idea is especially significant, you wake people up; you also make it easier for them to file the thought in the proper place. Underscore key points by calling attention to them visually. Use headlines, bold type, and indented lists to emphasize major ideas. Reinforce the text of your message by using charts, graphs, maps, diagrams, and illustrations that will help your audience see the point. If you are delivering the message orally, use your body and voice to highlight important concepts. Before you conclude your message, take a moment or two to review the essential points. Restate the purpose, and show how the main ideas relate to it. This simple step will help your audience remember the message. 22

Because business audiences are frequently interrupted, its a good idea to provide summaries at the end of major sections of a long message as well as the end of a document or presentation. Such summaries not only refresh peoples memories but also help simplify the overall meaning of complex material. Minimize noise Even the most careful constructed message will fail to achieve results if it does not reach the receiver. To the extend possible, you should try to eliminate potential sources of interference. The key to getting through to the receiver often lies in the choice of communication channels and media. Choose the method that will be the most likely to attract the receivers attention and enable him or her to concentrate on the message. If a written document seems the best choice, try to make it physically appealing and easy to comprehend. Use an attractive, convenient format, and pay attention to such details as the choice of paper and quality of type. If possible, deliver the document when you know the reader will have time to study. If the message calls for an oral delivery channel, try to eliminate environmental competition. The location should be comfortable and quiet, with adequate lighting, good acoustics, and few visual distractions. In addition, think about how your own appearance will affect the audience. An outfit that screams for attention creates as much noise as a squeaky air-conditioning system. Another way to reduce interference, particularly in oral communication, is to deliver your message directly to the intended audience. The more people who filter your message, the greater the potential for distortion.

Facilitate feedback In addition to minimizing noise, give the receiver a chance to provide feedback. But one of the things making business communication difficult is the complexity of the feedback loop. If youre talking face-to-face with one other person, feedback is immediate and clear. 23

But if youre writing a letter, memo, or report that will be read by several people, feedback will be delayed and mixed. Some of the readers will be enthusiastic or respond promptly, others will be critical or reluctant to respond. As a consequence, revising you message to take account of their feedback will be difficult. When you plan your message, think about the amount of feedback that you want to encourage. Although feedback is generally useful, it reduces your control over the communication situation. You need to know whether your message is being understood and accepted, but you may not want to respond to comments until you have completed your argument. If you are communicating with a group, you may not have the time to react to every impression or question. For this reason, think about how you want to obtain feedback and choose a form of communication that suits your needs. Some channels and media are more compatible with feedback than others. For example, if you want to adjust your message quickly, talk to the receiver face-to-face or by phone. If feedback is less important to you, you can use a written document or give a prepared speech. Remember, that in order to get feedback, you have to listen, which is more difficult than you might think. We tend to let or minds wander and miss important points, or we jump in too quickly with comments of our own, so the other person doesnt have a chance to complete a thought. We make the mistake of prejudging other people because we dont like the way they look or because they represent an opposing group. Often we lack patience, objectivity, and understanding. We send signals, subconsciously perhaps, that we dont value the other persons comments. Regardless of whether the response to your message is written or oral, you have to encourage people to be open if you want them to tell you what they really think and feel. You cant say, Please tell me what you think, and then get mad at the first critical comment. So try not to react defensively. Your goal is to find out whether the people in your audience have understood and accepted your message. If you find that they havent, dont lose your temper. After all, the fault is at least partially yours. Instead of saying the same thing all over again, only louder this time, try to find the source of misunderstanding. Then revise your message. Sooner or later, if you keep trying, youll achieve success.

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