What does effective communication mean and how can we achieve it? We asked Massimo Franceschetti who is a professor at Bologna Business School and an expert in effective communication. Here is his answer…
In order to develop effective communication skills we need to consider the following 5 basic principles:
- and creativity.
Effective communication has to measure up to these principles, so let’s analyse them together.
- By “awareness” I mean the ability to reflect on what we do, explain it, give it a name and manage it. Effective communication cannot do without awareness.
Skilled communicators don’t just speak or listen, in fact they can explain what is happening in the moment they are communicating, they can learn from their mistakes, prepare and orient their communication.
People who are aware have personally experienced what they are talking about. In case of necessity they have better chances of finding effective solutions. Most importantly they have a natural authority which makes their communication effective.
- Responsibility. Human beings can decide to orient their behaviour according to elements which are not included in their DNA. Human beings can make decisions, choose intentionally, do practically anything they want. They have multiple possibilities which all lie within their ability to think of all the possible alternatives. For this reason they can always take the for the choices they make and always have a space of freedom within their actions. If we can choose then we become responsible for the choices we make. And for the ones we don’t make.
In terms of effective communication this means being responsible for the results of our own communication. This is the only way we can improve.
- Respect. The principle of biological life conservation finds expression in the value which is granted to all living things, including human beings. People have value in themselves because they exist. In more practical terms, the value of all living beings finds expression in people’s need for respect. Every person needs respect. “To respect” literally means “to regard” i.e. “to consider carefully”. Each person requires special consideration. We all need to receive and give respect. This sense of respect is also connected to our very own nature of living beings who depend on one another.
Photo Laurenz Kleinheider by Unsplash
Effective communication promotes respect even when it comes to saying unpleasant things, as it happens during arguments or in everyday interactions.
- Trust. Trust is a “feeling of confidence in someone or something”. It is that confidence which makes us think “that’s how it should be”, “it is possible”, “it will happen”, even if there is no real evidence (yet). Trust has the ability to generate “facts”. Trust is productive, just as distrust is destructive. Trust becomes all the more powerful when it is joined up with imagination and creativity, two supreme features of every human being.
All kinds of effective communication are based on trust, as indeed in the case of clients and sellers
(Editor’s note: go back to the article on the Circle of Trust).
- Creativity. Creativity is the ability to think differently and connect elements which are distant from each other. Like imagination, it is the capacity to create new images of reality.
Effective communication is creative communication, it is flexible and open to new possibilities: it is flexible and open to the different contexts in which it takes place.
Creativity is the result of positive interaction between homogeneity and difference. It can’t just come from nothing, in fact it is based on learned foundations. We should observe Nature, which is constantly experimenting and inventing. It explores all the different possibilities of a specific situation or context. Nature has no fears, impediments, performance anxieties, preconceptions or categorical judgements. Nature doesn’t stand still, it doesn’t become entrenched, it doesn’t get bored, it doesn’t give up. When these things happen to people (“I tried everything!”, we say) it’s because (maybe just for a short time) we lose confidence in the generative power of imagination, in the most peculiar and natural side of human beings (lack of confidence is learned and fostered).
Any kind of human community can be a source of creativity, because it is the place of diversity. Here lie the difficulties and the wonders of living together.
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This combination of divergence and convergence, conventionality and unconventionality, common elements and differences, is the secret to human productivity and to effective communication.
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The ability to live together has guaranteed our species extraordinary chances of survival and a complex and diverse life. Another reason – if necessary – to promote effective communication, allowing difference and creativity to rise and experiment themselves.
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