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Resilience - Communication

Resilience - Communication

Few people would disagree that good communication is vital to management – but what exactly is communication?

  • giving an order
  • booking a hotel room
  • explaining how to use a computer system
  • warning that a tornado is heading this way
  • consoling a friend who has just received bad news
  • selling a product
  • motivating an audience
  • negotiating the resolution of a dispute

It is all of these and more. Some people claim that communication is the material from which organizations and societies are constructed, and that it certainly true for biological organisms such as our won bodies – without communication, information and signalling we would very quickly cease to exist.

We can view communication from many levels, and there are theories to describe each of these. Each theory has its own contribution to make in ensuring that communications are effective.

The information level is about getting the message delivered accurately and reliably, but it doesn’t care about the content – which could be anything from a morning call to a declaration of war.

The meaning level is about how sender and receiver make meaning of the message, and this is far less precise. I can do my best to translate the ideas in my head into meaningful words and phrases, add symbols, imagery and even music to add some emotion to my words, even use video clips to show information with time duration, but however hard I try I have no control over how you are going to decode my message. All I can really do is launch my message and hope for the best.

Using as an example the message that a tornado is on the way, this would have very different meanings for a tourist, a homeowner, a storm-chaser or a looter.

The third level is very much about what it is to be human – shaking hands and saying hello is not just a message, its attention, it signals respect, acceptance, warmth. Or as Louis Armstrong sings it:  

I see friends shaking hands
saying how do you do?
They're really saying I love you.

If you aim to build a motivated team, where people look forward to coming to work and the job gets done, you will be communicating at all three levels.

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