Communication (Part 2)

Having said that good communication is necessary, let’s briefly look at what is involved.  We need to start with the need – to have some information or data that another party also needs (or wants, as needs can sometimes be an overstatement).

Coming from that, there’s a requirement to have at least two parties involved – one transmitting and one receiving (and I’ll mention the special case of “broadcast communication” at the end).  The stages involved are:

  1. Identify data to be communicated;
  2. Encode;
  3. Transmit;
  4. Receive;
  5. Decode;
  6. Identify and process data received.

That may sound complicated on first pass and, for most communication we’re involved in, each of these steps is handled automatically and without much thought.  Let’s consider a simple greeting:

  1. Recognise a friend and decide to greet;
  2. Decide whether to call out “Hello” or wave;
  3. Call out/wave;
  4. Your friend hears or sees your greeting;
  5. He/she recognises you;
  6. He decides to respond to you.

Now consider where this could go wrong:

  1. You don’t recognise him;
  2. You forget his name;
  3. You mumble (or are eating a chewy sweet), or there’s a lot of background noise;
  4. Your friend isn’t looking at you or doesn’t hear you;
  5. He fails to recognise you;
  6. You wonder what you’ve done to make him ignore you…

Rather than calling out or waving to a friend  we could be using email or radio or a poster to send a message to potential customers; we could choose the wrong words, or write in the wrong language; the email address may be wrong; your customer isn’t where you think he is…  There are many ways for communication to break down – it’s sometimes a wonder that it works as often and as well as it does.

And as for “broadcast communication”, where one message is sent to many, it’s best to think of it as a multiple of one-to-one communications because, whilst there might only be one transmission there has to be a separate receipt for each recipient.

(Posted as a blog 27th May 2012)