Communication: The Lost Art?

By Beth Miller, Special to Overdrive

To become an effective leader in any field, from a Fortune 500 company to a retail manager, the concept of communication is heavily emphasized.  A definition of communication arose in 1983 by the US Army defining communication as, “the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another; it involves a sender transmitting an idea, information, or feeling to a receiver.”

Why is communication so important? If you were to look at a day in the life of an effective leader you would see that it is their charisma and presence that set them apart.  They say that communication is an inherent characteristic, but it is actually one that is learned over time.  Communication is the act of sending a message and receiving the information, as opposed to talking which is just sending information.

Lee Froschheiser, president and CEO of Map Consulting (MAP), created a five step process in which you can learn correct communication skills.

  1. Prepare how you will communicate
  2. Deliver the message
  3. Receive the message
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the communication afterwards
  5. Take corrective action as necessary

Looking at the steps above you see that sending is not the only important component of communication.  Listening is also a necessary skill one must possess in order to be an effective communicator.  Hearing a person and listening to a person is not the same thing.  The information needs to be received, processed, and evaluated in order to give feedback.  Feedback is the defining moment of communication.  It is the proof of concept for communication. Unless you can respond to the information presented you are not communicating, you are talking.

The emphasis on communication is important because with the introduction of the technological era we have lost the necessity to communicate.  It used to be that information was shared around the water cooler and begat ideas and beliefs.  Leaders in the industry would use that time to raise moral and converse with employees. Today, that precious time is lost behind a screen.  Is it not easier to send a text rather than speak to a person directly, or shoot an email as opposed to having a conversation?

We are indeed in a technological era and it has come at a great cost.  With all of the high impact innovations we have lost the most important tool that man has ever created is communication.
An effective leader will be able to communicate through any medium.  It is important to remember that with the introduction of all this great technology we should never allow it to become a substitute for communication, but utilize it as a tool to greater the impact of the message.
I have heard it said that communication is a lost art.  However it is something that can be regained through human interaction.

Communication is not just vocal but also non-vocal.  A tourist in a country that does not know the language will rely on hand symbols and gestures to get across a message.  That is why interactions are so important.  We can “work out” our communicative ability.  We need to add it our daily regiment as you would brushing your teeth or working out your muscles.

Albert Einstein once said that, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction,the world will have a generation of idiots.”

Do you feel that social networking and high impact technology is affecting our habits and ability to communicate?

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