Culture of Communication by Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky

Communication is the process of conveying information and meaning.  Many leaders take communication for granted or believe it is the “other persons” job to make sure they understood the message.  Successful leaders build a culture where the process of communication is paramount.  They insure that within their organizational culture everyone understands there are four critical components to successful communication.

 I.                    Planning:

 Successful communication occurs only when all parties understand the message (information) from the same perspective (meaning). For most of us, at least 75% of our workday is consumed by communication. Successful communication is a multi-step process.

What do I need to do in order to “Plan the Message?”


Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is the goal of the message?

Set the objective and determine what you need to say to meet it.


2. Who should receive the message?

Include everyone who needs to receive your message.


3. How will I send the message?

With receivers in mind, plan best way to convey message. Remember, use oral channels for sending difficult/unusual messages, less rich written channels for transmitting simple and/or routine messages to several people.


4. When will I transmit the message?

Timing is important. Don’t plan a 15 minute meeting 5 minutes before quitting time.


5. Where will the message be transmitted?

Decide on the best setting (your office, receiver’s office, etc.); minimize distractions


II.                 Sending

When communicating through an oral channel (face-to-face, meeting, presentation, telephone, video conference, etc.) it is particularly important to “Plan the Message.” It is helpful to think of oral communication as a process, not an event. The following are steps to consider when sending a message orally:

1. Establish a connection: Put the receiver at ease.  Ensure everyone that needs to be in attendance is indeed in attendance.


2. State your objective: In business, common objectives are to influence, inform, assign a task, and/or create change.


3. Transmit your message: If the objective is to assign a task, be sure to establish as deadline for completion of the task.


4. Check the receiver’s understanding: It is not enough to ask: “Any questions?”

Ask what has been understood. Say something like: “Would you tell me what you have heard, so that I can be sure that I explained myself clearly?”


5. Close the loop: If the objective is an assigned task, always be sure to secure commitment of the completion date and check back to make sure the task is completed.


III.               Listening

Listening is the process that begins with giving the speaker your undivided attention. Poor listening occurs, in part, because we speak at an average rate of 120 words per minute, while we are able to listen at a rate of over 500 words per minute. Our ability to understand more than four times faster than the speaker can talk often leads to our minds wandering.


What can you do to listen more effectively?


1. Pay Attention/Stay Tuned In: Focus on what is being said. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back.


2. Avoid Distractions: Do not multi-task. Keep your eye on the speaker. Do not fiddle with pens, papers, type on your computer, etc. For important communication, put your phone on “Do not disturb”.


3. Do Not Interrupt: Listen to the entire message without interrupting. Many listening mistakes are made when people hear the first part of a sentence and finish it in their own minds without listening to the second part.


4. Watch nonverbal cues: Understand both the emotion and the content of the message. People sometimes say one thing and mean another. Make sure the message from their body language is the same as the verbal message.


5. Reflection: As a rule, we all need to do more reflecting! Begin by repeating back what you heard the speaker say. Start with: “It sounds like you...” or “So what you’re saying is...” When you paraphrase correctly, you convey that you have listened and understand the speaker. When you paraphrase incorrectly, it gives the speaker an opportunity to clarify, and for you to further your understanding.


IV.               Feedback

Successful leaders build a culture that create a habit of pursuing feedback relentlessly. Getting feedback is a process through which we can learn about our ability to communicate by verifying messages and determining if the objectives of communication are being met. Be mindful that feedback is a gift - it is nothing more than the information regarding your interaction with the world around you.


What can I do to get feedback?


1. Be open to feedback: Welcome peoples’ feedback/questions. If people sense that you get impatient or upset with feedback/questions, they will not offer feedback nor ask questions.


2. Be aware of nonverbal communication: Make sure your nonverbal communication encourages feedback. If you articulate, “I encourage your feedback/questions,” but then look at those asking questions as if they are stupid, people will not ask questions.


3. Ask questions: Ask for additional specific feedback. Asking direct questions dealing with the specific information will let others know that you are open and interested in receiving additional feedback.


4. Paraphrase: This is still the most accurate indicator of understanding. It bears repeating that, as a rule, we all need to do more paraphrasing! Begin by repeating back what you heard the speaker say. Start with: “It sounds like you...” or “So what you’re saying is...” When you paraphrase correctly, you convey that you have listened and understand the speaker. When you paraphrase incorrectly, it gives the speaker an opportunity to clarify.



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