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Communication is fundamental to the human condition: social, personal and business. Statistics on communication show just how important effective communication is. The world has changed hugely in the last few years, and since the Covid-19 pandemic swept the planet, less and less of our communication has been face to face. In the workplace, 65% of businesses communicate primarily with clients using email and just over one-quarter of businesses provide a smartphone for their workers.
Regardless of a person’s position or career, good communication is essential at work and knowing how to communicate effectively makes for a solid foundation to become a leader. With this in mind, the 7 Cs of communication are a framework to follow for effective communication.
What are the 7 Cs of communication?
When people seek to improve their communication skills to become more effective, it can be difficult to know where to begin. This is when the 7 Cs of communication can come in. This is a framework to help people focus on the different aspects of communication.
The 7 Cs are:
Let’s look at each word in more detail:
Being concise when communicating means keeping to the point and not going off on a tangent or including things that aren’t necessary at that time. A brief message that’s well-delivered will have a more pronounced impact on the audience and will be more memorable too.
Though it can be tempting to add lots of different threads of information, the more that’s included, the harder it can be for the audience to follow what you’re saying and remember your key points.
Keeping the language simple rather than complex is also helpful when you’re delivering a message to a non-specialist in your field.
Here are some more ideas on how to be concise when communicating:
1. Include relevant information and key details only.
2. Don’t repeat yourself.
3. Check you’re not using unnecessary words like ‘basically’, ‘obviously’, ‘definitely’ and ‘for instance’.
4. Ensure the message is easy to understand and clear.
Complete communication means that you convey the entire message and that your listeners understand what you are saying. If there is a chance of misinterpretation or misunderstanding, you should always aim to be complete even if it means you’re not as concise. Nonetheless, only communicate necessary information while making sure you express yourself fully.
It might mean you need to determine the information that can be omitted. If possible, ask a family member or friend to listen to what you’re going to say so that they can provide feedback on your message. You can follow up with questions about which sections could do with tweaking.
If you realise they haven’t understood vital details, it is probable that you’re not being complete enough.
Here are some extra tips about being complete when communicating:
1. Be precise when giving information like dates, times, locations and names of places and people.
2. Ensure you provide accurate information.
3. Include instructions that are clear if you’re requesting something from your listeners.
You can achieve a coherent message by structuring your presentation to suit your audience. You should organise your key messages so that everything flows naturally. When you’re able to point out your thoughts in a sequence that tells your story, your audience will be able to follow along and remember what you said.
In an ideal world, you would start with a statement to introduce your topic and then build on this towards a final conclusion. Making a speech should be approached in the same way as an essay. You should adjust the vocabulary you use depending on the people in your audience. If, for example, you’re delivering a presentation to an audience who works in the sports industry, you might choose to use sports terminology, anecdotes or metaphors.
Here are some more tips on how to be coherent in your communication:
1. Tell a story.
2. Describe things in chronological order.
3. Introduce follow-up tasks in the order of importance.
Preparing to deliver a clear message means you won’t use confusing vocabulary, terminology that’s highly specialised, or phrases that are too long. Ensure you use accessible language for all if you’re addressing your speech to people who are of different backgrounds, ages, places and levels of education.
If you are delivering a presentation to a non-specialist audience, you should aim to use simpler words and avoid professional terminology where possible. If it’s not possible to avoid highly specialised words, you should explain what they mean.
Here are some more tips on how to be clear:
1. Speak using the present tense.
2. Communicate important facts via presentation or email.
3. Communicate any emotions on the phone or in person.
Sometimes you’ll see lists of the 7Cs with ‘courteous’ being ‘consideration’. Essentially, they’re the same thing.
Being courteous means being respectful in your communication. When speaking with co-workers, for example, you should use a conversational tone and show appreciation with regard to their attention and time.
Whenever you’re speaking to others, you should always consider them and their needs. You can also ask questions to make sure you fully understand them and their needs.
When you’re doing a presentation, ensure that your message is always positive so that you can inspire interest. In this way, your audience will be more interested in you and what you’re saying. Using a conversational tone will encourage active listening too. What’s more, adding in professional terminology and choosing your words carefully will show your audience that you are a specialist in the topic. This might be important when you’re wanting to build up a level of trust. If appropriate, use relatable stories and humour to keep the audience engaged.
Here are some more tips on how to be courteous when communicating:
1. Talk in a friendly, open and honest way.
2. Use eye contact to acknowledge your listeners.
3. Use visual content to back up your speech.
4. Listen to and engage with feedback and audience opinions.
Being concrete means that you are communicating in a specific and focused way to include all of the important details and facts. You need to ensure your whole audience grasps your message.
To have a delivery that’s more concrete, you should use specific words. For example, using the word ‘sprint’ might be more appropriate (and concrete) than ‘run fast’. When you’re more specific and direct with the words you use, your delivery will be more effective.
Here are some more tips on being concrete:
1. Use statistics to support and back up what you’re saying.
2. Provide clear guidelines for when you expect action.
3. Research the topic thoroughly and only include information that’s relevant to what you’re saying.
When talking about being correct, we mean both being factually accurate and grammatically correct. Ensuring these two aspects are true can mean that your audience understands the message you’re trying to communicate.
If you are communicating via the written word, have somebody check and proofread what you’ve written. For a presentation or speech, get someone to listen to it – especially if they have experience in good communication skills.
When you’re trying to proofread your own work, it can be tricky. It’s best to wait a day or so and look at it with fresh eyes. Reading it aloud can also help you spot errors too. Finally, you can use the free Grammarly tool or Microsoft Word’s Editor tool to find and correct typos.
Here are some more tips on ensuring correct communication:
1. Use a spell checker or a grammar checker – but don’t rely on these for finding every mistake.
2. Check that titles and names of people are correct so as not to upset or offend anyone.
3. Be sure to check that any technical terms you use are suitable for the intended audience.
What is the purpose of the 7 Cs of communication
The purpose of the 7Cs is to provide a simple framework for people to follow when they’re wanting to improve or maintain good communication skills. Having seven words beginning with the same letter makes the concepts much easier to remember.
What are the benefits of the 7 Cs of communication?
For businesses, there are huge benefits to introducing the 7Cs of communication to your team.
Here are some of the main upsides:
1. They optimise your reputation
An organisation builds its reputation on effective communication. These 7Cs are important things a company can do when they’re looking to optimise their reputation.
2. It is a cost-effective way of communicating
When you employ the 7Cs, you’re using a cost-effective way of communicating. This is because there is no key information lost and, therefore, no extra costs due to having to send further details or messages.
3. Communication becomes persuasive and informative
When you communicate following the 7Cs principles, no additional information is needed and all of the receiver’s questions are answered through the main communication.
4. Improves the interaction between senders and receivers
The audience will benefit from having complete communication as they won’t have unanswered questions. Everything will be sent through the first communication, saving time and money.
5. Communication becomes result-driven
Avoiding superfluous words means the core message is emphasised. Listeners get their message in a brief and concise way.
6. It builds trust
When communication is effective, trust is built up. Being able to listen and take on different ideas will help other people trust that your decisions are the right ones. Since you’re the role model, the trust garnered will extend through the whole team.
7. It prevents and resolves problems
Effective communication following the 7 Cs plays a part in good conflict resolution as well as in the prevention of potential conflict.
8. It provides direction and clarity
Following the 7Cs of communication means you can deliver clear objectives and expectations. People will understand what is required and how to achieve those results.
9. Relationships are better
As well as trust building, the 7Cs improve relationships in the workplace. This means that people are more respectful of one another.
10. Engagement improves
When people feel more confident in what’s required of them thanks to effective communication, they will be more engaged with their work. According to research on engagement with employees, only 15% are fully engaged. When you prioritise effective communication, engagement and satisfaction will increase.
11. Productivity improves
When workers know their roles fully, they won’t need to ask so many questions. They’ll automatically know what the expectations are of them and can, therefore, be more productive in their work. Managers will also not need to spend as much time explaining things to their team members.
12. There are team building benefits
When communication is as good as it can be, team members can rely on one another more. There won’t just be one person carrying a whole team. There will be a division of responsibility that will encourage positive relationships and feelings between members of a team. This leads to better morale all round.
Where can the 7 Cs of communication be used?
When we see successful people, they’re often great communicators naturally in all aspects of their lives. Good communication skills can be learned and developed too, though.
The 7 Cs of communication are good for all aspects of life and work. Whether you’re delivering a speech to a large audience or talking to your neighbours about getting new fences, using the 7Cs of communication can make a huge difference.
Why are the 7 Cs of communication important?
The 7 Cs of communication are important as they can help improve interactions in the workplace. They’re known for improving interactions like work calls, meetings, presentations, written correspondence, and even the way you talk to colleagues.
No matter the industry, being able to communicate effectively with one another can help when you need to work on projects, deal with stakeholders, arrange services, and complete sales.
Being an effective communicator is valuable in a workplace environment and improving the way to talk and communicate with others is essential for leadership roles. When you’re a leader or a manager, you will need to understand how to communicate well and provide appropriate feedback to colleagues in a way that’s going to motivate them and enthuse them into being efficient and productive.
Final thoughts on the 7 Cs of communication
The most important takeaway about the 7 Cs of communication is that they’re necessary for success. Communication happens every day but when the 7Cs of communication are employed, communication is more effective and credible.
As such, making sure your communication is engaging and efficient by using the 7Cs is crucial.