The "C’s" of Communication
By Ibby Smith Stofer
We all know that talking is not necessarily communicating. We also know that nodding is not necessarily listening.
Today more than ever we have the means to communicate with people wherever and whenever. We are judged in our personal and professional life by how well we have mastered the skill of communication. To be effective one must demonstrate and incorporate the “C’s” of communication.
Read the following “communication” in the form of an email written to a colleague. See if you can find any communication errors.
Subject: Requesting the skill and talent of one of your key employees?
As you know the sales department is in the process of seeking new opportunities with a wide variety of businesses, ranging from small, medium and large organizations in the fields of medical equipment, office equipment and just about any other business that would likely use our services.
As we look across the organization, we think there may be talent that can be a real asset to help achieve the goal. At this time the project timeline is not defined, so it would be a “loan” of key individuals for an uncertain period. We are still iding the team leed and perhaps you have some thoughts on that as well.
As one of our strongest contributors and leaders we know we can depend on your support. Let me know when we can have a detailed conservation about this.
Ask yourself is this message clear? Is it concise or complete? Does it give you a concrete understanding of the request? Is it courteous? Does it convey what Joe needs from John? Does it contain acronyms of abbreviations that may or may not be understood by John? Are there mistakes that spell check did not catch? Is it correct? These are the “C’s” of communication.
How many “C’s” do you think the previous email contained?
Perhaps this rewrite of Joe’s email demonstrates these “C’s” best.
Subject: Requesting the skill and talent of Jennifer Snow for the New Business Development project.
As you know, I have been asked to lead a team in seeking new opportunities where we do not have current relationships or business contacts. Identifying team members is my top priority.
One of the skills I recognize as critical to the projects success is the ability to build new relationships, as well as tenacity, commitment and energy.
In our last company talent review, you impressed me with the accomplishments that Jennifer Snow has achieved. We think she would be a great asset to this project based on what she has done in her marketing role.
While the timeframe for the project is not yet confirmed, we are looking to ask department leaders to “loan” the stars we had identified at the talent review.
We recognize that this may put a burden on your department and I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss how we can work together on this key corporate imitative without causing your team to fail.
Are you available Tuesday or Wednesday morning next week, for about an hour? We can use the conference room. I will book it when you let me know what works for your schedule.
Thanks. I look forward to our meeting.
Do you think that by making sure the message is clear, concise, complete, courteous, and concrete John will be able to better understand what Joe wanted to convey?
Now think of your last email or voicemail. Did you incorporate any of these key elements?
The following is an example of a voicemail.
This is Joe. I am sorry I missed you but I will call again to follow up with you.
How do you react to a message that sounds like this? For me hitting the delete key seems like an appropriate response. I don’t know who Joe is, where he is from, or what he thinks he needs to follow up with me on.
Let’s replay or rather re leave that message.
Jane, This is Joe from American Industries. We spoke last week about your need for new computers. I have some great news to share. We are having a promotion on the very models we discussed. I will call you this afternoon after 3PM to discuss the details. If that time won’t work for you, just give me a call and we can reschedule. My cell is 675 431 5544. Thank you. I am excited to share this news with you.
This message is clear, concise, complete, courteous, and concrete.
Listening is a critical skill if you want to be effective at communicating. However, communication through email, texting, and voicemail do not provide that opportunity. These methods are rather little notes that we drop to others and hope they understand.
One rule to keep in mind is to check your messages for the C’s of communication before sending them off. Read the email or text as if it was coming to you before you send it. This will help to make sure the receiver knows what you are communicating about and why they received the message. Don’t use abbreviations, double check not only spelling, but also grammar and remember to keep on topic.
So what about leaving a voicemail message? If you make a conscious effort to follow the “C’s” in written communication you will generally be better at spoken communication as well. Until you feel confident that you have mastered the C’s of communication, err on the conservative side. Leave yourself a practice message before you leave it for others. It only takes a moment or two and hearing how you sound to the other party while looking for the C’s can be a great learning tool. Additionally, you can write a note of bullet points you want to mention during the message. This can help keep you on track and make you more confident going into the phone message.
One “C” that I believe is often overlooked is to be calm. This is especially important when dealing with those closest to us, like our children, spouses or significant other. We tend to think they will know what we mean, and ignore how we say things. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are often our most sensitive audience and we miss the opportunities to treat them as such.
In this article, we have focused on ways to improve one on one communication, but often times we are communicating within a group. Certainly, the C’s of communication we have identified will help with group communications as well. However, there are other factors that need to be considered when working with multiple people. It is important to know the communication style of both yourself and those you interact with. Group size, individual roles, and the purpose of the group are all important factors to understand when working with multiple people.
A quick search on the internet will help you identify the five basic communication styles. One article I found particularly interesting is “The Five Communication Styles” written by Claire Newton. It gives a good description of both verbal and non-verbal behaviors. To learn more visit www.clairenewton.co.za/my-articles/the-five-communication-styles.html. Another site that has intriguing articles on a wide variety of topics including improving your communication skills is Mindtools.com. Check it out for some additional insight.
There is no shortage of articles and resources on the topic of communication. Being an avid learner I enjoy seeking new ideas and insights. I hope you find this interesting and helpful as you work to become a better communicator.