The True Definition of Communication

The above title may seem elementary; however, I assure you that it is not. The fact is that most people do not communicate effectively at all; hence, they do not truly grasp the definition of communication.

The goal of this article is to provide you with a more in-depth definition and understanding of the same. The objective in doing this is to help you communicate more effectively by employing the correct tools and/or resources.

By definition, to communicate means the mutual giving and/or exchange of information and/or ideas. In this vein then, effective communication is to ensure that mutually given and/or exchanged information and/or ideas or not only clearly conveyed but also acutely understood by all parties involved in the circle of the communication.

Simply put, you are responsible for what you say and accountable for your actions therein. This is the ideal and pinnacle of effective communication.

As one of my teachers puts it, and I truly have come to experience and believe, “The quality of your communication equals the quality of your life.”

To the degree that you can convey your messages and understand yours and others viewpoints, the results you achieve will mirror the level of that clarity. As with diamonds – not all stones are made equally pure.

To this end, it is important that you understand the true meaning of communicating effectively and to do that it is vital that you first have an in-depth understanding of the true definition of communication.

First, let’s understand that we spend about 75% or more of our waking hours doing these 4 things: reading, writing, speaking and listening. All of these are forms of communication.

Let’s define what it means to communicate effectively through these methods.

As it pertains to writing or speaking, there are certain things of which you must be aware of and take responsibility for when you are the initiator in these instances.

First, you have to endeavor to take full responsibility for what you write or say and also the clarity of these communications. This means that if the message within is misconstrued, you are not to blame the recipient(s) of the message but instead, accept the burden that you are the one charged with ensuring the message is clear. Surely you cannot be expected to think for someone else or to know that what you say will penetrate them the way you wish it to; however, you can take the position of humility and simply rephrase or ask for clarification on how you might better present your message so that the recipient(s) will get the picture you are trying to paint.

The point is to take full responsibility for conveying your message clearly and rather than simply doing the way you like to read or hear it – focus on the ones for whom the message is intended. Your goal must be to make sure they understand because it is about them and not you.

Second, if there should be anything expected from the recipient(s) of your message, it is your responsibility to let them know at some point in your communication. In other words, you must provide the call-to-action. If you don’t, you cannot then be upset or frustrated when they do not respond or reply as you might have expected.

Here’s a quick guideline to follow when you are the initiator of communication:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them
  2. Tell them
  3. Tell them what you told them

This method of conveying your message ensures that much more people will understand your message much more quickly and fully.

As it pertains to reading or listening, there are certain things of which you must be aware of and take responsibility for when you are the recipient in these instances.

First, you must be willing to read or listen without pre-conceived notions. I realize that this may be very difficult in some instances; however, the practice will certainly increase the efficacy of your communications. Individuals who truly understand the definition of communication practice these relentlessly.

As the recipient of any communication our ultimate goal must remain to be that we are open, willing and only seeking true understanding of what is being read or said. Only then do we formulate our opinions, feedback or advice depending on what is being asked or stated. We read and listen genuinely so that we can respond in a genuine and authentic manner.

Second, you must remain accountable to any call-to-action once you have agreed to it. This is how the circle of communication is completed and effective; it is only when all involved parties accept responsibility and remain accountable to the charge therein.

There is no question that you can immediately improve the efficacy of your communications once you begin to put these into practice. This is the true definition of communication.