Effective Communication Involves Building Trust As Well As Listening To The Audience

As the Communications Rebel writer Michelle Mazur writes, there’s a HUGE gap between public communications and corporate communications. And this difference is getting bigger. Just as people in the Middle East began writing poetry in verse centuries before the first written words, people in communication agencies and corporate businesses are now writing poems and emails to one another all the time. Saying that there isn’t really a difference is like saying that dark chocolate and ice cream are the exact same thing-they’re both chocolate, right? But that’s not true-no one can honestly say that either one of those foods tastes the same to the taste buds of everyone else, because every single person has a different interpretation of what satisfies their palette.

When you talk about communications or reading others’ internal communications, that’s when you get into “d decoding.” If you can decode the message that way, you’ve won the argument. When you make an observation or a comment and you mean to convey it to your audience, you can’t make that observation or comment without also communicating that observation to your audience. When you’re communicating through “dumbing” or “down playing” your point to your audience, you’re not communicating a message; you’re sending a message.

In other words, when it comes to communicating, you have two communication contexts at work: the verbal and the nonverbal. In a written document, you present your ideas or arguments in a form of words. Then, you engage the recipient in a dialogue to take them a step further toward understanding your position. If you engage in oral communication, you put your ideas or arguments on the table and then engage with the recipient to take them one step further toward understanding your perspective. The idea is to go from a point of discussion to a point of compromise.

Now let’s take a look at those eight elements again. First, you have the verbal communication process where you communicate your message. In this phase, you are opening the door to the receiver by making clear your intentions and your commitment to the issue at hand. You need to take time to clearly communicate why you’re saying what you’re saying.

Second, there is the non-verbal portion of the communication process. Here, you have the potential for misunderstanding depending on how you put yourself into the recipient’s shoes. The receiver may interpret your intentions differently than you intend them to be interpreted. In other words, you put yourself into the receiver’s shoes and you may find out that you misunderstood something or you misconstrued some of your own words or actions.

Third, there is the body language of both parties. The body language conveys a lot about the emotions of both parties. It is this interpretation of facial expressions that can carry the biggest weight of interpretation. One important aspect of nonverbal communications is the use of the eyes. The eyes convey a lot of meanings through movements and appearance.

Fourth, and it should go without saying, there is the written communication aspect of the communication process. In this step, both parties bring their textual content to the table. This content may be in the form of reports, proposals, emails, letters, etc. This step of the communication helps both parties to evaluate their own public health messages and determine how to best inform the intended beneficiaries. Ultimately, it is the intent of the communication for the intended beneficiary to understand what is being communicated and why.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, effective communication involves the listening aspect of the communication process. In the final analysis, one person is not an authority over another nor does one person speak with one person in respect to another. In many cases, it is the interaction between the people in the audience that creates the opportunity for misunderstanding. When the misinterpretation occurs, the audience has a double burden to deal with the misunderstanding while trying to understand and serve the purpose of the presentation or report.