Monday, February 05, 2007

Effective Communication

I found this on Ronny DeWinter's Software Quality blog:

Communication levels:
Not everything that is said is heard.
Not everything that is heard is understood.
Not everything that is understood is agreed.
Not everything that is agreed is applied.
Not everything that is applied is retained.

That is a fantastic short synopsis of why communication is so difficult. It shows that just getting someone to understand you is not enough. Of course, getting further down this list is not always required. But if it is, you should test every step so that if a breakdown occurs, you know where it happened and how to fix it.

You may not need agreement in every case, but it is nice to know when you don't have it, and if you have trust, agreement is testable simply by asking. If you don't have trust you may have to test downstream.

One of the places I worked would appear to have agreement but often fail to actually practice what was agreed. Application or practice should be easily testable, you can build it into the original communication. For example, "When you complete this, send me a copy".

Whether something is retained or not may or may not matter. If it is important to you that it is retained, put a follow up action in your favorite planning tool to test future retention.

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