Qualities of Effective Communication

Qualities of Effective Communication

For communication to achieve its objectives in whatever vista of life we operate (business, religion, and social, political and economic relationships and others), it should possess certain qualities or attributes:-
 1. Accuracy: This refers to accuracy (i.e., correctness and reliability) of data or information, of interpretation of the data, and of the handling of language (sentence construction, expression, articulation, phrasing, punctuation, spelling and other elements, the mishandling of which can lead to ambiguity and imprecision of meaning). So, careless handling of data or statistics, inept phrasing, specious reasoning with little supporting
evidence, misspellings and sparse or superfluous punctuation are to be avoided.
2. Completeness: This means including in a piece of communication all information relevant to it without withholding any such information (perhaps for some personal purpose) and expressing all such information in language which the intended recipient can understand fully. A recipient’s confidence in a piece of communication flows from the completeness of the communication. Completeness requires that, besides, for example, the courses of action recommended, possible alternative courses of action be examined and rejected for reasons which should also be given in the piece of communication. Any possible undesirable side effects of recommended actions should be indicated. The subject should be covered so thoroughly that the recipient has no need to raise any questions or seek alternative or additional answers. Negative recommendations require convincing evidence, which should emerge from a thorough evaluation of the issue and full documentation of evidence. However, a piece of communication should not be overloaded, or a recipient bored, with unnecessary information. Depending on how much information the intended recipient or target audience is known to have, some pieces of information may be added or deleted.
 3. Clarity: This is essentially a function of language use. This is the area of communication in which the language expert finds his most important role, while the management expert finds his in such other aspects as content, channel, timing or occasion, place of communication and other elements of a similar kind. One important practice for achieving clarity is re-writing and rehearsing. It is rare that the first draft or plan of a piece of communication achieves perfection. Written communication should go through at least three stages of preparation, namely, the draft, the proof and final versions. Drafts and plans should be made well enough in advance of use and allowed to exercise the writer’s mind for a few days in the course of his routine activities. If – in such an interval – the writer employs the well-known aids to vocabulary control and language mechanics (see Okenimkpe, 2004, Chapter Two) for making necessary corrections, much improvement in the document can be accomplished.
4. Conciseness: In spite of the need for completeness as explained above, conciseness – a vital quality of effective communication – must not be compromised. Over-writing often arises, not from
the necessity of including all vital information, but from the writer’s desire to impress the recipient or audience with the writer’s fund of information or knowledge, from pedantic verbosity and from such other faults as a lengthy discussion of methods used in the gathering of data and in the composing of the report. Often, reading a report aloud or rehearsing a speech can help a communicator to decide on what should be pruned out.
5. Readability: This refers to the beauty, charm, attractiveness and simplicity of the style of a piece of communication. It is again squarely a function of language use. It results from an amalgam of clarity, conciseness, flawless grammar, accurate spelling, functional punctuation and a warm, original style of writing.
 6. Quickness (or Timeliness): Quickness refers to the speed with which a piece of communication takes to travel from its source, called (as we shall alter see) the communicator, through its channel to its recipient, audience or communicant. It is believed that because of the natural subjectivity of information to distortion and misrepresentation as it travels through its channel between its release and arrival (source and destination), communication becomes dangerous if it takes too long to get down the line. Of course, in face-to-face communication – usually in the oral mode – this danger does not exist. In written communication and in oral communication disseminated through what is called “the line or chain of command”, it is important to ensure prompt arrival of the communication at its destination. Quickness also refers to the period between the emergence of a piece of information and its communication to those it concerns. Delayed information runs a serious risk of being misrepresented through what is referred to in organisations as the “grape-vine”, i.e., the unofficial information channels of rumours and gossip.
 7. Must receive a response: Unless a piece of communication receives a response from those to whom it is addressed, the correctness of its reception cannot be ascertained. It is not enough to put a notice on a notice board or send a circular through the post or internal mail system (e.g., the e-mail) and assume that communication has been effectively executed. The targeted audience may not visit the notice board or sight the email and may, in any case misunderstand the message. Nor is it adequate simply to speak to a person or audience and believe that one has effectively communicated with him or them. In all cases of communication, some feedback mechanism must be used to ensure that the information communicated has been accurately received.
8. Utility: A piece of communication should “sell” itself – should be “sellable”. This quality refers to the attribute of charm and attractiveness of presentation. Attractiveness offers a powerful stimulus for the favourable reception of a piece of communication. A shoddy speech, given in obscure diction and cluttered with distracting asides and anecdotes, cannot hope to hold the attention of the audience for very long. Nor can a piece of written communication, ungainly crowded onto pages in inept paragraphing, winding and fragmented sentences and unpolished language mechanics expect to be read by its audience. Sellability of communication is another important function of language use. Barriers to Effective Communication Another general matter which attaches to communication (in our case, business communication) is barriers, i.e., barriers to effective communication. These are discussed after the process of communication in Unit 4 of this Module One. This is because some of these barriers emanate from the process.

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