Develop the Three Cs of Communication

As you develop the necessary attitudes and skills to communicate, and as you observe the dynamics of communication, you will discover three fundamental characteristics that are crucial to imparting the message you want to send. These basic qualities of communication include: character, credibility, and courage. 

Respect for the dignity of all human beings is recognized worldwide as the backbone of communication. This important concept can be summarized in the word character. Character is the plumb line or the golden rule of communication. Character is integrity; it is doing what you say you will do. Walk your talk. Cooperative action can occur when people believe they can trust you. The ancient philosopher Aristotle recognized this when he said, “Character is the most effective agent of persuasion.” 

Character is of central importance in all human interaction. Character earns respect. People have confidence and trust in you. As a result, character effectively keeps lines of communication open. People judge your character by such factors as:

  • Your attitude toward yourself and others
  • What you say and the way you say it
  • Your mannerisms
  • Your voice, posture, and facial expressions
  • Your associates
  • Your demonstrated actions over a period of time.

A firm commitment to character simplifies communication. As politician Sam Rayburn once said, “Always tell the truth. Then you’ll never have to remember what you said the last time.” Strengthen your character, and it will serve you well as you face opportunities to communicate with employees and colleagues alike. Character has the potential to impact your goals even further along your journey than you can now see. The impact of character on your goals is captured by these lines:

  • Sow a thought, reap a habit.
  • Sow a habit, reap a character.
  • Sow a character, reap a destiny.

The next C, credibility, is closely related to character. Credibility, or believability, is established by a commitment to quality, competence in your field of expertise, and continuous professional and personal improvement. 

Through consistent attitudes and actions and a positive work record, you prove that you are credible and trustworthy. Work consistently and diligently to build a positive, consistent track record. Establish your credibility, and you are positioned to communicate effectively and prosper in your business. People want to associate and cooperate with you when they believe you are capable and credible. 

Courage is the third C of communication. Authentic, effective communication is not for the timid. Communication requires courage! Dealing with unpleasantness, coping with conflict, and taking a firm stand when it is needed demand courage. Communicating effectively in sensitive or potentially explosive situations calls for courage. In business, one must have courage about a procedure, a strategy, or a personal issue. In social circles, one must have courage about religion or politics; and at home, one must have courage about personal feelings and expectations. 

Listening sometimes requires more courage than any other aspect of communication. It takes courage to receive criticism. Yet people who truly want to grow and develop welcome comments by their critics; they are open to the criticism of others and weigh it against other considerations. They recognize the fact that people seldom improve when their only yardstick is their present stated achievement. Listening to criticism offers invaluable benefits. You can make needed changes as a result of criticism from others more than from their praise. 

When you are courageous enough to truly listen to others, you make yourself vulnerable by being open to constructive criticism from them. You also take the risk of others not appreciating, understanding, or valuing your ideas. But the alternative – not communicating at all – only protects the status quo and offers no prospects for change and progress. Courage – personal security to communicate effectively as a receiver as well as a sender of messages– is a commitment to win-win outcomes and a sign of real leadership.

Leadership Management Institute
Reprinted with permission


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