By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
Communication is the process of making up a message and sending it through an appropriate channel to its intended target so that the message is acted upon and a feedback is given. Effective communication is achieved when the sender?s message is communicated at the right time to the right person in the right manner, and it elicits the right response. What to say, when to say it, where it is said, how it is said ? all matter. In business, you need the sleekness and the diplomacy of words to clinch business contracts, to wow customers, and to motivate and to retain employees. Your business start-up will boom if you know how to communicate properly with your stakeholders, be they customers, bankers, superiors, suppliers, partners, among others.
In this time and age, youth unemployment is high and many youth are graduating from colleges and universities in Ghana, and pouring out into the streets with high hopes for a brighter future. The Ghanaian Government which has an albatross of a high SSSS wage bill hanging on its neck, and a millstone of a 24 billion-dollar national debt, cannot create the expected jobs, nor can the private sector which is bedevilled by production constraints such as Dumsor power outages, high interest rates, shrinking demand in the domestic market because of unemployment, among other constraints. Times are hard, and the national budget is tight. The youth have to bite the bullet and take the bull by the horns. They have their destiny in their own hands to become entrepreneurs and technopreneurs like Sir Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mo Ibrahim,Dangote, Kalu,Kenpong, among others.
Think always about the consequences of what you say because every action has equal and opposite reaction. Many observers are worried that our youth of today in Ghana are losing some of our cherished cultural heritage such as being decent and truthful in language. This is because we lack role models in leadership, as some of our current political leaders have resorted to lying, insults, insinuations, and appalling behaviour in public, as they take to the airwaves. This is not the Ghana we hope for or the one our pioneers shed their precious blood to salvage from the yoke of colonial bondage.
It behoves us now to mind our language in public as well as in our private microcosms where we interact with peers, family, friends, colleagues at work, and the general public. It is a pity that Ghana has become a nation full of hollow talk and no concrete action. It is often said, ?Actions speak louder than words?. We all need to be people of action. Walk your talk. As Gandhi said, ?Be the change you desire to see in the world.? Perhaps, you could be a motivational speaker, a pastor, a career mentor, an actor or actress, a musician, designer, among others. Whatever you areor you want to be in Ghana, you need the skills of good communication.
It is important to employ various modes of communication to reinforce the same message you wish to communicate. You can use oral or verbal communication in a face?to-face dialogue, which is very effective because you get instant feedback and you can study the body language of those you are communicating and interacting with. Good verbal communication requires maintaining eye contact, assuming the right posture, and showing keen interest by taking down notes or asking questions or contributing to the debate.
The clothes you wear, the colours you choose, the type of haircut, manicure, the perfumes you wear, all convey messages to the recipient. Always carry yourself with dignity, equipoise, elegance, and exude self-confidence, though with lots of humility. You need to build a self-identity or brand yourself. Mind you, you need to juggle a balancing act when you communicate, with your personality being a part of the process. The late KomlaDumor left us a legacy of communication skills, hard work, self-belief, among other sterling traits. May his soul rest in peace.
So make sure you make your presence felt. In written communication, avoid being bombastic or using big words, and try to be as simple as possible. Show tolerance and deference to older people or those above you in hierarchy, by being polite, well-behaved, but not condescending. Show firmness, vivacity, verve, and assertiveness. Be widely read so you can contribute positively to debates. Avoid raising your voice or using insulting words in public. Be yourself and do not speak with a strange, false accent. Do pace your speech when you talk, or give a public presentation. Do not rush also to be the first to talk in a public show. Have some modicum of self-restraint. Show that you have cultivated good manners, and you are well brought up.
When you write, be critical and precise, by trying not to be subjective but balanced and objective. Try to present both sides of an argument so that you do not look to be biased. Self-edit your write-up and ensure you convey your message with clarity, logical presentation, in a time-sequential order. Divide your work up into sub-divisions or headings which are correctly numbered. Use your spell-check or dictionary to ascertain the correct meaning and usage of words. Mind your diction by carefully weighing the words you use. If you think you are not sure of a word, look for a synonym.Focus on your topic and do not deviate.
When you read something online or in a newspaper, do not swallow it hook, line and sinker, or lock, stock, and barrel. Question critically what you read because there are people out there who are mischievous and want to cause sensationalism. Separate facts from fiction, opinions, beliefs, and conjectures. Some media people may feed you with distorted, jaundiced, manipulated, fabricated, and concocted lies and propaganda. Be discerning of what you read or hear, and play the Devil?s advocate by always questioning issues and not taking them on at their superficial level. Delve deep to get the meaning of things.
Use your head and have your wits about you. They may draw a red herring across your path or pull wool over your eyes. Take everything you hear or read with a pinch of salt by not being so gullible but subjecting them under the microscope to critical disquisition, exegesis, and analysis. Look for verified facts from authentic sources. Ensure that accounts which you read are substantiated by tables of figures, photos, or interview transcripts of respondents and interviewees. Better still; ensure that the accounts of events you read or hear are collaborated by independent sources.
As someone once said, ?Simplicity is the mother of beauty.? Write short sentences in preference to long, winding, and complex sentences. Keep your communication simple and short. Being succinct or precise is a hallmark of success, as brevity avoids making many mistakes. Make your communication lively, passionate, illustrative, and expressive. If you are writing a business plan, make your write-up business-like and impersonal. Do a lot of background reading from varied sources. Write in a formal style, with headings, introductions, among others.
Do not repeat yourself unnecessarily. Pay attention to spelling howlers, punctuation, diction and style. Vary your sentence patterns and avoid the use of worn-out clich?s, idioms, and figures of speech which are difficult to understand. Be simple, straightforward and direct. If you are writing an essay or a report, pay attention to organisation and structure such as introduction, main body, sub-divisions or sections with headers, and the conclusion. Each chapter should begin with a chapter introduction which informs the reader what to expect. Your introduction could be used for defining key concepts, giving a brief historical background, and showing the roadmap of your essay or report. Each chapter should have a summary stating key points raised, and what to expect in the ensuing chapter.
Ensure that what you put under a heading, tallies with the heading. Keep your focus by ensuring that you do not deviate from the topic you have chosen. Use a dictionary to spell-check or find meanings of words and their many shades of meaning and usages. You must read widely to become a good communicator.
Communication is an art and you should learn how to communicate your ideas and thoughts concisely, clearly and effectively, and unambiguously. Learn also to listen a lot to people to gain new ideas and learn more. Someone observed that God gave us two ears to listen more, and one mouth to talk less. Until the next episode in these series, I say char.
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi