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Ten Commandments of Good Communication


1. Seek to clarify your ideas before communicating 

The more systematically we analyze the problem or idea to be communicated, the clearer it becomes. This is the first step towards effective communication. Many communications fail because of inadequate planning. Good planning must consider the goals and attitude of those who will receive the communication and those who will be affected by it.

2. Examine the true purpose of each communication

Before you communicate, ask yourself what you really want to accomplish with your message – to obtain information, to initiate action, to change another person’s attitude or behavior. Identify your most important goal and then adapt your language, tone and total approach to serve that specific objective. Don’t try to accomplish too mush with each communication. The sharper the focus of your message, the greater its chances of sources.

3. Consider the total physical and human setting whenever you communicate 

Meaning and intent are conveyed by more than words alone. Many other factors influence the overall impact of a communication and you must be sensitive to the total setting in which you communicate. Consider, for example, your sense of timing – i.e. the circumstances under which you make an announcement or render a decision; the physical setting – whether you communicate in private, for example, or otherwise; the social climate that pervades work relationships within the company or a department and sets the tone of its communications; custom and past practice – the degree to which your communication conforms to, or departs from the expectations of your audience. Be constantly aware of the total setting in which you communicate. It is essential that communication adapts to its environment.

4. Consult with others, where appropriate, in planning communications 

Frequently, it is desirable to see the participation of others in planning a communication or developing the facts on which to base it. Such consultation often helps to lend additional insight and objectivity to your message. Moreover, those who have helped you plan your communication; will give it their active support.

5. Be mindful, while you communicate, of the overtones as well as the basic content of your message 

Your tone of voice, your expression, your apparent recepbveness to the responses of others – all have tremendous impact on those you wish to reach. Frequently overlooked, these subtleties of communication often affect a listener’s reaction to a message even more than its basic content. Similarly, your choice of language – particularly your awareness of the fine shades of meaning and emotion in the words you use- predetermines in large part- the reactions of your listeners.

6. Take the opportunity, when in arises, to convey something of help or value to the receiver 

Consideration of the other person’s interests and needs – the ability to look at thinks from his point of view will frequently create opportunities to convey something of immediate benefit or long-range value to him. People on the job are the most responsive to the managers whose messages take their own interests into account. This is called empathy in communication.

7. Follow up your communication 

Our best efforts at communication may be wasted, and we may never know whether we have succeeded in expressing our true meaning and intent, if we do not follow up to see how well we have put our message across.

This you can do by asking questions, by encouraging the receiver to express his reactions, by follow-up contacts, by subsequent review of the performance. Make certain that every important communication has a feedback so that complete understanding and appropriate action result.

8. Communicate for tomorrow as well as today 

While communications may be aimed primarily at meeting the demands of an immediate situation, they must be planned with the past in mind, if they are to maintain consistency in the receiver’s view; but, most important of all, they must be consistent with long-range interests and goals. For example, it is not easy to communicate frankly on such matters as poor performance or the shortcoming of a loyal subordinate – but postponing disagreeable communications makes them more difficult in the long run and is actually unfair to your subordinates and your company.

9. Be sure your actions support your communications 

In the final analysis, the most persuasive kind of communication is not what you say but what you do. When a man’s actions or attitudes contradict his words, we tend to discount what he has said. For every manager, this means that good supervisory practices – clear assignment of responsibility and authority, fair rewards for effort, and sound policy enforcement – serve to communicate more than all gifts of oratory.

10. Seek not only to be understood but to understand: be a good listener 

When we start talking, we often cease to listen – in that larger sense of being attuned to the other person’s unspoken reactions and attitudes. Even more serious is the fact that we are all guilty, at times, of inattentiveness when others are attempting to communicate with us. Listening is one of the most important, most difficult – and most neglected – skills in communication. It demands that we concentrate not only on the explicit meanings another person is expressing but on the implicit meanings, unspoken words and undertones that may be far more significant. Thus, we must learn to listen with the inner ear, if we are to know the inner man.