By Gavin Meikle, Head Of Learning And Founder Of Inter-Activ

Recently somebody asked me how I got into the business or training and coaching on communication skill. My answer was that, whilst I was working in the corporate world, in sales and management, it became obvious to me that many of the problems we had to deal with were related to communication or more specifically a breakdown in communication.

That got me thinking about what most people mean by communication so I started to ask my delegates what it meant to them. Most people said it was about the transmission of information. But is this the whole story? I believe that this mindset is at the heart of all our communication nightmares.

How do you know when communication has been successful? Surely we can only truly know if our communication has worked when we can see or hear that the receiver has understood it in the same way as we meant when we sent it! Effective communication is really all about the accurate reception and understanding of our transmissions.

Another way of saying this is “The meaning of our communication is the response it produces”.

So whose fault is it when our communication fails? Is it really all down to the receiver? It is all too easy to point the finger of blame at the other party and accuse them of not listening, or being stupid.

Ask yourself whether blaming others does anything to improve the situation and then consider the benefits of taking responsibility for your own communication. If the message wasn’t received in the way you meant it perhaps you weren’t as clear as you could have been. Perhaps you assumed that your audience had the same background information as you when in actual fact they didn’t.

Communication is a much more complex business than we think and there are many ways in which it can all fall apart so as professional communicators we owe it to ourselves our teams and our clients to take responsibility and strive to ensure that our communication is received in the way we meant it.

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