Communication definitely means different things to different people, and hundreds of books of been written exploring the differences in the way we communicate with each other. Theorists propose differing approaches to communication are required based on gender, culture, education and a range of other variables.
In the workplace, ‘good communication’ is vital … but how do we define it, so that we know how to achieve it?
As a working definition, consider ‘good communication’ to be “the effective and efficient transfer and receipt of the right amount of information, at the right time, via the right medium”. Then the components of achieving that can be identified. Points to consider include:
- While the effectiveness of the communication process is impacted by a range of influences, the core process is underpinned by the ‘message’ (i.e. the content) and the medium (i.e. the way it is delivered).
- Communication ‘sinks in’ best when the message is personal, so poetic license may need to be taken to tailor the safety message so it becomes strongly relevant to target individuals.
- Communication must be conducted so that the right amount of information is presented, adopting the inherent understanding that ‘less-is-more’, with key snippets repeated and reinforced, and repeated and reinforced.
- The communications need to be positive in every sense of the word; constructive quality with an upbeat message that reinforces the right way of doing things.
- The delivery mode must be suitable, and while face-to-face discussions are optimal, operational / logistical demands would often inhibit this, so other channels that are appropriate to both the message and the targets need to be identified.
- Deliver the communications early in the workday when the level of receptiveness is high, and the level of distraction is low.
- Be aware that currently our attention spans and our recall / retention rates are plummeting (studies have shown that communications delivered via electronic media have less than 20% recall in some areas). Advertisers know this, and that is why we see the same adverts again and again (and again).
- Lastly, the principle of communication is often misunderstood to be a one-way street, but for the communication to be effective there needs to be a return message, some sort of acknowledgement (verbal, non-verbal, written or even a ‘thumbs-up’ emoji). This acknowledgement needs to be fostered and sought out – e.g. during a toolbox talk, throw out some verification questions to confirm that key information has been retained.
So, to wrap-up, the key take-aways to implement in your workplace are ‘tailor the message’, with ‘less is more’ ‘positively framed’, and then repeat and repeat.
Please contact QRMC for more information.