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Effective Communication
last updated:
Tue, 9/07/2010 1:20 PM

“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.” Margaret Miller

Have you been in settings when one person dominates the conversation? How about on a date with a person who enjoys talking about their interests but never asks about yours? Have you presented in front of a group of people when it seems their eyes have glazed over? These scenarios all have one thing in common – someone is talking and someone isn’t listening. It has been said that there is all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something.

The goal of effective communication is two fold – to clearly convey your message and to receive information from others with as little distortion as possible. Tuning in to what you and others are thinking, feeling and saying takes effort. This process can be fraught with miscommunication and confusion. Communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information from the communicated message.

There are several steps to maximize the likelihood that your message comes across as intended. Understand the audience – whether it is your spouse, child or department – it is helpful to know their diverse backgrounds, attitudes and expectations. For example, your spouse may have given you numerous clues that they prefer concise information. They do not want the back story – just the conclusion. It does no good to continue to communicate the whole story because they stopped listening by the time you reached the third sentence!

  • Decide what method is best to convey the message. It can be a memo, an email, face to face meeting, presentation, hand-written note or a private chat on facebook. Knowing your audience and the complexity of the message will help determine the method.
  • Welcome and seek verbal and non-verbal feedback. This will help to understand if the message was heard as intended as well as give opportunity for back and forth, productive conversation.

You can increase your communication skills in your personal or professional life, call the Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program in Memphis, Tennessee and make an appointment today.


Donna Tosches, is the Director of the Methodist Healthcare EAP. To contact Donna or another EAP counselor, call 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice.


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000