3JM Company Inc.



Published Articles by David Balovich

Title: How Good Are Our Communication Skills?
Published in: Creditworthy News
Date: 5/29/13


Communication skills are some of the most important skills that we need to succeed in the workplace.

We talk to people face to face, and we listen when people talk to us. We write emails and reports, and we read the documents and emails that are sent to us. Communication, therefore, is a process that involves at least two people - a sender and a receiver. For it to be successful, the receiver must understand the message in the way that the sender intended. This may sound quite simple. But have you ever been in a situation where this hasn't happened? Misunderstanding and confusion often occur, and they can cause enormous problems. If we want to be excellent communicators, we need to be effective at all points in the communication process - and we must be comfortable with the different channels of communication. When we communicate well, we can be very successful. On the other hand, poor communicators struggle to develop their careers beyond a certain point.

The person who is the source of the communication encodes it into a message, and transmits it through a channel. The person who is the receiver decodes the message, and, in one way or another, sends back, through feedback, either understanding or a lack of understanding to the source.

By understanding the steps in the communication process, we can become more aware of our role in it, recognize what we need to do to communicate effectively, anticipate problems before they happen, and improve our overall ability to communicate effectively.

The Source - Planning Our Message

Before we begin communicating, we need to take a moment to figure out what we want to say, and why. We don't to waste our time conveying information that isn't necessary - and we shouldn't waste the listener or reader's time either. Too often, people just keep talking or keep writing - because they think that by saying more, they'll surely cover all the points. Often, however, all they do is confuse the people they're talking to.

Plan What We Want To Communicate.

Understand our objective. Why are we communicating?

Understand our audience. With whom are we communicating? What do they need to know?

Plan what we want to say, and how we will send the message.

Seek feedback on how well our message was received.

When we do all of the above, we'll be able to craft a message that will be received positively by our audience. Good communicators use the KISS ("Keep It Simple and Straightforward") principle. They know that less is often more, and that good communication should be efficient as well as effective.

Encoding - Creating a Clear, Well-Crafted Message

Once we know what we want to say the we need to decide exactly how we'll say it. Our responsibility is to send a message that's both clear and concise. To achieve this, we need to consider not only what we'll say, but also how we think the recipient will perceive it.  We often focus on the message that we want to send, and the way in which we'll send it. But if our message is delivered without considering the other person's perspective, it's likely that part of that message will be lost. To communicate more effectively:

Understand what we truly need and want to say.

Always anticipate the other person's reaction to our message.

Choose words and body language that allow the other person to really hear what we're saying.

When writing our message always make sure that what we write will be perceived the way we intend it to be. Words on a page generally have no emotion - they don't "smile" or "frown" while we're reading them. So when writing, always take time to do the following:

Review our style.

Avoid using slang.

Always check for  grammar and punctuation.

Check also for tone, attitude, nuance, and other subtleties. If we think the message may be misunderstood, it probably will be. Take the time to clarify it!

We should familiarize ourselves with our company's writing policies. Another important consideration is to use pictures, charts, and diagrams wherever possible. As the saying goes, "a picture speaks a thousand words."

Also, whether we speak or write our message, consider the "cultural context". 

Avoid any potential for miscommunication or misunderstanding due to cultural or language barriers.

Choose The Correct Channel.

Along with encoding the message, we need to choose the best communication channel to use to send it. We want to be efficient, and yet make the most of our communication opportunity. Using email to send simple directions is practical. However, if we want to delegate a complex task, an email will probably just lead to more questions, so it may be best to arrange a time to speak in person. And when our communication has any negative emotional content, we need to stay well away from email! Make sure that we communicate face to face or by phone, so that we can judge the impact of our words and adjust these appropriately. When we are determining the best way to send a message, consider the following:

The sensitivity and emotional content of the subject.

How easy it is to communicate detail.

The receiver's preferences.

Time constraints.

The need to ask and answer questions.

Decoding - Receiving and Interpreting a Message

It can be easy to focus on speaking; we want to get our points out there, because we usually have lots to say. However, to be a great communicator, we also need to step back, let the other person talk, and just listen. This doesn't mean that we should be passive. Listening is hard work, which is why effective listening is called  active listening. To listen actively requires the we give our undivided attention to the speaker:

Always look at the person, preferably maintain eye contact as often as possible.

Pay attention to his or her body language.

Avoid any distractions.

Nod and smile to acknowledge points.

Occasionally think back about what the person has said.

Allow the person to speak, without thinking about how we'll respond to what they are saying.

Never interrupt.

Empathy listening also helps us decode the message accurately. To understand a message fully, we have to understand the emotions and underlying feelings the speaker is expressing. This is where an understanding of body language can be useful.


We need feedback, because without it, we can't be sure that people have understood our message. Sometimes feedback is verbal, and sometimes it's not. We've looked at the importance of asking questions and listening carefully. However, feedback through body language is perhaps the most important source of clues to the effectiveness of our communication. By watching the facial expressions, gestures, and posture of the person we're communicating with, we can easily spot:

Confidence levels.



Comprehension (or lack of understanding).

Level of interest.

Level of engagement with the message.

Truthfulness (or lying/dishonesty).

As a speaker, understanding our listener's body language can provide us the opportunity to adjust our message and make it more understandable, appealing, or interesting. As a listener, body language can show us more about what the other person is saying.

We can then ask questions to ensure that we have, indeed, understood each other. In both situations, we can better avoid miscommunication if it happens. Feedback can also be formal. If we're communicating something really important, it can often be worth asking questions of the person we're talking to so we can insure that they've understood fully. And if we're receiving this sort of communication, repeat it in our own words to check our understanding.

It can take a lot of effort to communicate effectively. However, we need to be able to communicate well if we're going to make the most of the opportunities that life has to offer. By learning the skills we need to communicate effectively, we can learn how to communicate our ideas clearly and effectively, and understand much more of the information that's conveyed to us. As either a speaker or a listener, or as a writer or a reader, we're responsible for making sure that the message is communicated accurately. Pay attention to words and actions, ask questions, and watch body language. These will all help us ensure that we say is what we mean, and that we hear what is intended.

I Wish You Well,

David Balovich is an author, credit consultant, educator, and public speaker. He can be reached at 3jmcompany@gmail.com or through the Creditworthy website.

The information provided above is for educational purposes only and not provided as legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from a licensed attorney in good standing with the Bar Association and preferably Board Certified in either Creditor Rights or Bankruptcy.  

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