As it appeared in the Daily Nation on October 15th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
Several years ago while I was working at a multinational corporation, the company’s president visited the Kenyan office. During the introductions, I was standing next to our communications manager. After the communication manager introduced himself, the president’s remark caught my attention. He had simply said to him “communication is so important”. I took this statement to heart; after all, it was coming from the president of the largest security company globally. Since then, I have had a special interest in communication and especially on its role in organizational effectiveness.
Communication has varied meanings. At its most basic form, communication is the transfer of information and understanding from one person to the other. Communication happens between individuals, between organizations and from the government to its citizens. What I find interesting is that we do also communicate with ourselves. Communication may be spoken also referred to either as verbal, non-verbal or through our body language or some written form. In everything we do, we are communicating. In fact, we spend most of our time every day communicating. We do so through the various mediums at our disposal. We communicate face to face via our words, tone of voice and body language. We also communicate via the telephone, on email, via social media, via reports, via marketing communications material, via print media, through the information management systems in our organizations, and via many other channels. Even in our silence, we communicate. The big question is – how effective is our communication?
One of the main challenges that most organizations face today is effectively communicating. In some organizations, internal communication is at its worst despite the milestones we have made in the expansion of communication channels. For example, in some organizations meetings remain a one-way communication channel or are largely a waste of time, in others, phone calls are ignored and emails fly left right and centre with no responses and without achieving much. Externally, most organizations have streamlined their communication with customers. Others are however still struggling with the basics in customer communication such as being responsive. Besides, communication with partners and suppliers remains a major challenge in most organizations. It seems that most people lack the communication skills vital to a healthy workplace. As a result, the flow of information and understanding is largely hazy.
The effectiveness of our communication is seen in our ability to express ourselves and to understand others. Communication is a basic skill that every employee and indeed every human being requires. Considered by many as a soft skill or as part of interpersonal skills, effective communication requires intentional effort, it does not just happen. skills that help us to build our ability to communicate more effectively range from being friendly, listening carefully, respecting the opinions of others, asking good questions, showing empathy, writing clearly, showing confidence by maintaining eye contact, minding the tone of our voice and the choice of our words among many others. How are we building our communication skills? Are we effective communicators? Communication is not only vital at the workplace but in our everyday interactions with family and friends!
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy