There are two cars going on a road. One car is green colored and the other is in blue color. The green colored car is moving at a constant speed. At the same time, the blue colored car indulges in rash driving; sometimes it moves as slow as a tortoise; and sometimes it moves as fast as a rocket. Consequently, fuel in the blue colored car dwindles and the car stops. However, the green colored car keeps going on.
After telling this story to her students, the teacher asks, ‘What do you guys understand from this story?’ One of her students replies that the car should be in green color to save fuel.
Note that in this story, what has to be said is hidden. Hence, the students understand the story in a different sense. To avoid such confusion, the teacher could have directly said that maintaining constant speed helps to save fuel. This is what the difference between a good communication and an inadequate communication.
Here, we do not use the term ‘bad communication'. Instead, we call it as an 'inadequate communication'. There is nothing called good or bad while exchanging information. What matters in communication is whether the information is fully reached to the hearer. Therefore, what you have to say should be free from confusion and in direct sense. Otherwise, you just waste your time by explaining everything once again.
Loss of Information
To understand how information loss in communication occurs, the following small experimentation helps you. Ask your five or six friends to line up. Tell a secret to the first person in her ear. Make sure that others do not hear what you say to the first person. Now the first person has to share the secret with the second person in her ear so that others do not hear it. In a similar fashion, the secret should be passed over to the last person. Now, let the last person share the secret with you.
Once you compare the secret told to you by the last person with the original secret that you have said at the beginning of the experimentation, you will understand that there is a lot of differences between the former and latter.
This happens because of information loss. When five or six persons exchanges same information, the theme transforms into different shapes. Original information becomes confounded. This is known as information loss in communication.
Here, instead of five or six persons, think of fifty or hundred people. Do you think you will get the same information from the hundredth person? Undoubtedly, while passing through all people, the information would have become unrecognizable. As the number of people participating in the communication increases, loss of information also increases automatically. It is not possible to prevent information loss in an absolute manner. However, if tried, information loss can be somewhat reduced.
In general, the following three elements play a vital role in communication:
1. The person who shares information (The speaker)
2. The person who receives information (The hearer)
3. Context or circumstance
Role of the speaker
Of these, the most important element is the speaker. The reason is that he or she holds the information to be present. It is his or her responsibility to share the information to others in such a way that the hearers understand it fully. In order to make the communication effective, the speaker should perform the following tasks:
- To understand what type of person the hearer is.
- To speak the hearer’s language without any mistake. If not comfortable with the language, a language that both understand can be used.
- To ensure that the information is fully reached to the hearer.
- To use different techniques to share information such as writing, drawing etc.
- To make sure that important information is fully reached to the hearer if there are occasional outages or hindrances.
These are all good signs of communication. When we are exchanging information with others, we can benefit from using these techniques.
Role of the hearer
Suppose someone gives you $10. You must stretch out your hand to get the $10. Otherwise, you may lose the money. Similarly, for communication to be successful, the hearer should cooperate with the speaker. No matter how effectively the speaker delivers speech; if the hearer does not show interest or does not concentrate, the speaker’s efforts will be of no use.
In day-to-day life, we are hearers in many circumstances. To be an active hearer, we need to note whether we keep our ears, eyes and minds opened in such circumstances. It is certainly not the right practice to concentrate on various tasks when we are hearers.
Furthermore, if information is available to a hearer, it is the hearer’s responsibility to check for the accuracy of it. In addition, the hearer should try to understand why the speaker shares the information (purpose of communication). If the hearer fails to adhere to these rules, it may lead to misunderstanding.
To sum up, when you are a hearer, you should ensure the following:
- Do you receive the information from the right place and right person?
- What is the purpose of the communication? Why does the speaker share the information with you?
Context or Circumstance
The third element in communication is the contexts or circumstances in which the information is being shared. This includes all factors surrounding the speaker and the hearer. For an effective communication, the speaker should observe the circumstance and determine methods of communicating important information accordingly.
© 2014 Sundaram Ponnusamy