Friday, February 23, 2024

Leadership: Communication

Communicate your instructions clearly

Communication is the most misunderstood of all management and leadership practices.

Talking-and-listening is not communication, because:

  • Talking is not saying

  • Listening is not hearing

  • Hearing is not understanding

  • Understanding is not doing

Unless your communication leads to a required action, you have not yet communicated!

Definition of communication

Communication is the mutual exchange of ideas between two or more persons, which is directed at achieving a specific purpose by means of different media. Communication is completed when the sender has assured himself that the receiver has received exactly what he has sent.

Principles of communication

The following principles serve as useful guides in establishing sound communication:

Communication Principle Nr 1: Line loss

The more people there are through whom the communication message has to pass, the greater the danger that the message will be distorted. This means that in the process of transferring the message, misconceptions take place and facts are left out. The message which reaches the fourth or fifth person is, therefore, weaker or less complete than the original one. The most effective communication is person-to-person and face-to-face.

Communication Principle Nr 2: The power of emotion

We tend to think with our emotions. This means that appealing to emotions seems to be more effective than appealing to reason. If people’s emotions are involved, by relating it to their personal interests, their jobs and their families, there is usually greater interest because emotion rules reason and in this way, a person’s attention is more easily held.

Communication Principle Nr 3: Application

The more an idea is put to use, the better it tends to be understood and remembered. This is of particular importance in communication with members of our team. If we can get them to use an idea, they will tailor it to their own requirements and make it part of their own mental repertoire.

The purpose of communication

Communication has the following purposes”

  • To ensure the flow of information by conveying messages.

  • To publicize planning and objectives.

  • To ensure the effective functioning of the organization.

  • To inform people about what should be done, how it should be done and when it should be done, thus to ensure effective delegation.

  • To ensure the effective coordination of various tasks.

  • To bring about mutual contact between people and tasks.

  • To facilitate guiding.

  • To ensure an effective control structure.

The communication process

The sender of the communication message

Communication begins with the sender who has a thought or an idea, which is then encoded in a way that can be understood by both the sender and the receiver. This idea thought or suggestion is the message which has to be coded into signs or symbols to reflect his interpretation of the idea.

The use of a channel to transmit the communication message

The information is transmitted over a channel (direction in which and through which the message moves) that links the sender with the receiver. Various media can be used to communicate the message.

  • Verbal (oral) communication.
    This can take many forms. It can be face-to-face, an over the telephone, radio, intercom, television or even on a computer. Oral communication is the most common form of communication and art that definitely must be developed. Seminars, lessons, explanations, interviews and even arguments are examples of oral communication. Pronunciation, volume, the choice of words, the tone of voice and individual mannerisms all form part of the total message.

  • Written communication.
    Compositions or précis, prose or poetry, notes, telex, telegrams, memoranda or letters. The versatility of the written media has made it one of the most powerful weapons throughout history. Paper is patient and words can meticulously be thought through before it is released. Somehow, words on paper have more authority. People want to see things in black and white.

  • Non-verbal communication.
    Body language
    . Even as little as two eyes making contact can convey a message. A wink, a sigh or a shrug, each movement tells a story. More can often be read between the lines than the apparent message that is conveyed.
    Pictures. It has often been said that a picture is worth as much as a thousand words. Whether it be a graphical display, three-dimensional modelling or even a motion picture, the power of pictures cannot be under-estimated.

The receiver of the communication message

This is the person or group receiving the message and must decode (interpret) it into a thought – a similar action to that employed by the communicator. Accurate communication can occur only when both sender and receiver attach the same or at least similar meanings to the symbols that compose the message. So communication is not complete unless it is understood in the mind of both the sender and receiver.

The journey of idea X from A to B faces interference which can be anything – whether in the sender, the transmission, or the receiver.

Interference with the communication

The following are examples of interference

  • distraction such as noise, movement or ambiguous symbols;

  • distance fading the message, such as in poor telephone connection;

  • lack of understanding, belief and acceptance;

  • emotions, like worries, attitudes and feelings.

Feedback forms the basis of identifying faulty interpretations of the message and making the necessary adjustments.


A. The sender sends his message using words and/or signs.
B. The sender’s message is influenced by his background.
C. The sender’s message is influenced by interference.
D. The receiver’s background influences his interpretation of the message.
E. The receiver receives and interprets the message.
F. The receiver formulates and sends his reply using words and/or signs.
G. The receiver’s reply is influenced by his background.
H. The receiver’s reply is influenced by interference.
I.  The sender’s background influences his interpretation of the reply.
J.  The sender interprets the reply and reformulates his message.
K. This cycle continues until the sender is satisfied that his message has been received and interpreted correctly.

Elements of effective communication

To accomplish improved communication, an effort should be made to create understanding. It can be achieved by doing the following:

Communication element nr 1: Know what you want to say and achieve

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Think through, carefully, what must be said, why and how it should be said. Refer to the logical thought process used in decision-making and problem-solving. Do your preparation beforehand. Be sincere, enthusiastic and convincing. Consider the other person’s feelings when you talk about his interests. When we know what we want to say, we should be sure to say what we actually mean. Remember, you are not only communicating ideas but also emotions.

Communication element nr 2: Know your audience

People have different backgrounds, emotion, interests, knowledge, ambitions etc. They are therefore going to interpret according to their make-up and beliefs. This means that we have to know something about that audience.

Communication element nr 3: Gain favourable attention

Get the people to listen to you, make sure that people want to hear from you. Start with something that they can relate to. Tell a story or a joke.

Communication element nr 4: Appeal to the interests of your audience

Find out more about the typical member of your audience. Remember that his job, his family and his problems are important to him.

Communication element nr 5: Anticipate and overcome emotional objections

Your listeners must emotionally be able to accept, understand and believe what you want to say. Use correct words that cannot easily be distorted through fear, distrust, suspicion.

Communication element nr 6: Talk in terms of people

Identify your ideas with people and what they feel or do.

Communication element nr 7: Start with the present, lead to the future

Be enthusiastic and inspiring. Start with the known and work to the unknown. Work progressively from simple to complex matters. Furnish reasons and motives wherever you can.

Communication element nr 8: Promote understanding and comprehension

Start by securing the agreement on some common point of interest. Use simple language and words which the audience usually use, and give an explanatory example.

Build your ideas bit by bit. Be patient, give the people an opportunity to grasp what you have to say.

Prove your point by a demonstration on how it should be done. Encourage discussions and questions to obtain feedback from your audience.

Communication element nr 9: Ensure retention and reproduction

People forget easily, therefore steps must be taken to ensure that they do remember the important points or instructions. Repetition and association are good techniques.

Communication element nr 10: Encourage feedback

Prompt people into participating. Win them to your side by listening carefully to questions and explanations from the audience. Ask questions to know the ideas and experiences of the listener.

Communication element nr 11: Emphasize application

To prove that the communication was successful the listeners need to do something about it, to apply it or improve on it.

Communication element nr 12: Cultivate the art of listening

Your function is more important when you guide the discussion than when you do the actual talking. Your objective is to guide the thinking, understanding and acceptance of the listeners. This can be achieved by listening. Since everybody has a story to tell, from his own point of view, give him the opportunity to be important by listening to him. Especially when solving a grievance problem or a conflict, the ability to listen is most important. If you listen, the conclusions you draw are more likely to be correct.

Managers should try to develop the following characteristics:

  • Believe in themselves and have confidence in what they are doing. This confidence will be transmitted to subordinates.

  • Faith in their ability to develop their subordinates; to select, train, and motivate them. Subordinates will justify this faith because it is what is expected of them.

  • An ability to develop ‘stretch’ goals and communicate this expectation.

  • A preference and regard for the achievement of the work group. If the group rather than self-achievement is the higher form of reward, the group will have higher achievement expectations.

In summary, the results are that management will shape the expectations and hence improve the productivity of subordinates. through the communication of the expectations, the leader will be a positive influence on attitudes, self-confidence, and self-development.