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C’s of communication

When I was referring Dandi march by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 A.D. my lecture was interrupted by a seventh class student, “Sir, what do we mean by A.D?” she asked. After my clarification, she came out with another doubt, “A person was born when Jesus Christ was thirteen year old. Does he belong to A.D or B.C?”

I was taken back, confessed my ignorance and on return verified to know my mistake. A.D. does not mean “after death,” as many people (including me) suppose. It stands for a Latin phrase: anno domini (the year Jesus was born). I sent her the correct answer through mail.

Correct and concise:

There are five C’s of communication, foremost being Correctness of ‘fact’ and its ‘presentation’. Never speak unless you are sure of its truth. Present it without grammatical mistakes and wrong usage of words like “I like to administrate (administer) disinterested (uninterested) people and invaluable (valueless) products…” Same way, never confuse with identical words with different meaning like “affect and effect”, “substitute and replace”. Suppose a person asks you, “Why don't you replace the sugar for honey?” how do you understand it, if he actually means ‘substituting honey for the sugar’?

“Conciseness” is the second key to effective communication. You said, “I turned around 360 degrees to see who was standing behind me.” When you turn 360 degrees you would complete a circle and are back to the original. This is first mistake. The usage of word ‘turn-around’ itself denotes what you want to say. The word ‘180 degrees’ is redundant. Don’t use long phases when they can be replaced by shorter ones. Practice brevity. Rewrite the following letter in two sentences avoiding irrelevant details. “Dad..! I don’t want to give more details of my expenditure. I am in need of money. Send me some amount before this weekend. Send me at least five hundred rupees. Don’t send cheque. It takes more than three days for collection. Hence I will be happy to receive the draft.” We will discuss other elements of communication next week.

We were discussing six C’s of communication, first two being Correctness and Conciseness. Next two elements are “Clarity” and “Completeness’. Give full information including your intentions, purpose of writing (or talking). Keep in mind the I.Q. of the opposite person. A sentence from an eighth class science book: “The epidermis, the dermis, and subcutaneous layer are three layers of which, a layer of dead skin cells makes up the epidermis that forms the body's shield against the world” could have been written with more clarity as: “The skin consists of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous. The epidermis layer is formed by dead skin cells and acts as a protective shield between body and the outer world”.

Your communication need to be articulate, effective and above all, “clear”. While narrating Ramayana, if you say, “Rama, Lakshmana and his wife Sita went to forest” the listener confuses as to whose wife is Sita. The purpose of communication is to let others know your intent and not your authenticity over knowledge. But some times you should add passion to your talk. Instead of speaking with a submissive voice, “Is it wrong to kill a terrorist?” if you expressively yell, “Is it wrong to kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” audience would emotionally applause.

Conversational style:

Flow from one sentence to the next through smooth transition is “coherence”. Developing own way of writing that has a “conversational tone is the best. Read loud what you wrote and correct those words and sentences which sound stiff and tongue-tied.

Thinking in colloquial language and translating it to English is a problem for many students. “I saw a person yesterday wearing red shirt” would be “yesterday I red shirt had man saw” in Telugu. Using adjectives at wrong places also sounds funny. Don’t you find something odd when your friend says, “The girl smiled at me with beautiful hair”?