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By Jeff Mandel and Steve Hamner

RISMEDIA, May 2, 2007-Think about it. How many times a week do you find yourself either directly involved or assisting others with resolving issues due to ineffective communication? Usually these issues occur for one of three reasons:

1) Lack of communication
2 Ineffective listening, or
3) Misinterpretation of the message

One of the consistent contributors to underperforming operations is ineffective communication. To that end, we interviewed broker/owners and financial executives to identify the best practices of effective communication. We'll share those results over the next several months in this column.

According to our sample group, communication can only be considered effective when the speaker or writer is certain that the recipient has interpreted the message in its proper context, and can demonstrate an understanding that matches the intent of the deliverer.

Don't Take it Personally
Mark Stark, CEO of Prudential Americana in Las Vegas, advises, "Don't assume that you have communicated your message in its intended form." Your message may be very clear to you, but the listener could hear something completely different. The listener will put influences on what is heard based on prior experiences and interpret the message accordingly.

We have all been guilty of taking someone's communication personally. Instead of listening to the remainder of the message, your mind is already formulating the response. You have become "offended" by the message and will tend to respond in a defensive way, which causes a breakdown in communication. As Stark describes it, when you develop the ability to be "unoffendable" you can hear better.

Know Your Audience
When reaching out to partners, Brad Dimmig, vice president and senior relationship manager of Chase Home Mortgage National Joint Venture Sales group, feels that it is of the utmost importance to know with whom you are communicating and what is important to them. If you know your audience, you can craft the message accordingly so that you have the best possible chance of delivering your intended message.

When Ken Harthausen, managing director of strategic business alliances for Countrywide, is delivering a message to a large group, he will strive to speak in terms that the audience will understand. To best compensate for the broad range of listening styles, Harthausen will do his best to deliver each important message in several different ways, in the hope of reaching as many listeners as possible. When dealing with a large audience, you must drill it home in several different ways so that your audience can grasp the message in their own individual way.

Next month, we'll look at developing a communication plan for your company.