Communication means passing information from one person to other people. Simple in theory, but as we all know, bad communication causes problems all the time - at work and at home. Fortunately, there are some basic guidelines that can help.

Communication is not about what is said it is about what is heard

The measure of good communication is simply how well it is understood which means using the language of the listener not the talker

If we want people to talk to us, they have to know that we will listen

Lets look at each of these in turn. The first principle is one that is frequently mis-understood. So often we concentrate on sending out our messages and blame others if they are not heard. What we should be doing is to measure outputs and not inputs. How many people heard or read the message not how loudly was it broadcast.

OK, we have covered the importance of hearing, now we go onto principle 2 - understanding. If the audience don't understand, your communication is wasted. That means you must use their language not your jargon. See our section on Plain Language.

Now, on principle 3 we get a bit more subtle. Most of us have opinions and want to be able to express them and for that to make a difference. Why is it that milllions vote on Big Brother yet for local elections there is such a low turnout? Voter Apathy as it's mistakenly called, is not the problem - the problem is people don't feel that their opinion is listened to and will make a difference. So they will only listen to your message - whatever it is - if they think that their response will make a difference.

So to sum up, it's about hearing, understanding and knowing that your opinion counts.

p.s. We could have written a complete book about this - most of which you'd have read and forgotton. But, because good communication is important to us, we'd rather keep it simple.

Serendipity of the Alphabet