FEATURE: Communication and the Communicator
By Eniola Mayowa
We all communicate! We all talk and express our thoughts, opinions, and views on issues of personal, national, and global interest for the purpose of gaining an understanding of our listeners or audience.
While every human interaction requires and demands communication for robust relationships, not many people communicate intentionally for the purpose of gaining understanding.
We share ideas, information, messages, knowledge with the aim of imparting or influencing others, but the question is, how effective is our communication in order to achieve intended meaning devoid of distortion and ambiguity.
For instance, if we are to address an audience, the effectiveness of the communication doesn’t lie in the oratory power of the speaker but with the ease of assimilation of the people being addressed.
What then is communication? It represents verbal and non-verbal, written or unwritten, digital and traditional exchange or transferring of information from one person, place, or group to another. For communication to have taken place, there must be a sender or multiple senders, the message must be clearly stated and the receiver or recipient of the message is established. Can an individual sharing information within self be described as communicating? that is unlikely!
Communication can also be defined as an act of developing a set of acceptable symbols, signs, meaning that is established as a means of sharing information that is well understood among a group of people, community, or a nation.
If people come together and agreed that when we used a particular symbol or set of symbols to pass a message, once it is understood, it becomes means of communication among the people.
While a people could come together to fashion out a way through which they communicate in other to manage their affairs and ensure mutually beneficial relationship in a work environment, in the community, in the family, in a social gathering or political setting, the effectiveness of the process of communication must be consciously guided to avoid compromise which could lead to misinterpretation, misrepresentation, mistrust, and compromise that could endanger the relationship and put the purpose of the existing relationship at risk.
According to Peter Drucker, “the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” Communication cannot be said to have taken place if the recipient doesn’t understand what the sender of the message is talking about, hence the oratory prowess of the sender is not enough to assume that communication has taken place. It was Jim Rohn who said, “effective communication is 20 percent what you know and 80 percent how you feel about what you know”. Suffice to say that understanding the message being disseminated is the most important part of the message received.
If there is no understanding, then the message is lost and the effort at communicating becomes a waste. For instance, if the purpose of an intended communication effort is to influence people to be more conscious of their health and are expected to take certain actions but if such message is being queried or taken with so much mistrust or distrust, such communication efforts can be said to have failed to achieve its purpose.
While the understanding of the message guides and provides direction for the usage of the information received appropriately, communication efforts must shed every appearance of baggage that could ignite apathy
In the communication mix, the communicator has the responsibility of ensuring seamless dissemination of the message for the purpose of gaining understanding to achieve the intended action or response.
Who then is a communicator? A communicator is generally referred to as the sender of a message. He or she is that individual who is able to convey or share information, thoughts, and ideas; often expected to be skilled in the act of communication. A communicator can also be an apparatus designed or programmed to disseminate information to a mass audience.
A good communicator is ever conscious of the need for feedback in other to gauge the effectiveness of the process and ensure a conversational approach to communication as a dialogue with one or many people.
The intentionality of action is very important in communication. A smart communicator must be proactive to put in place a mechanism that ensures that the flow of information is not distorted and the intended meaning of the message is achieved with minimal efforts
Disseminating information must take into consideration the seven Cs which requires that communication must be Correct, it must not ride on falsehood; it must be Clear, not open to diverse interpretation; it must be Coherent, fluent enough for easy understanding; It has to be Complete, not disjointed; It must be Concise, without unnecessary ambiguity; It has to be Concrete, founded on the trust and solid with open verification; and must be Courteous, it shows respect decent and decorum with sensitivity to the emotion of the recipient.
It is important that a communicator demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter when disseminating information or sharing ideas with its audience many of which have a different understanding of issues and assimilation diversity.
In communication, the sender must always be conscious of the need and mechanism for feedback hence it is important that a communicator does not dominate the discussion on the presumption that he or she knows what the people want to hear or what they should know.
He or she must be conscious to talk less and listen more for better understanding of the audience’s expectations and gauge if the expectations are being met. For ease of communication with great impart, communicators are expected to present their thoughts, ideas, presentations, conversations from the position of empathy.
The essence of communicating is largely to the benefit of the recipient and the convenience of the communication, that is, the sender of the message.
Most importantly, communication must be made simple! Simple to disseminate, Simple to understand, and Simple to internalise.