Effective Communication in the Workplace - Using the RESULT Principle

This tool can help you to improve your communication skills and become an effective communicator regardless of the situation you are in. The six components of the RESULT principle are:

RESULT Principle

All communication must be for a reason and the most effective dialogues will have a sole purpose or objective that the instigator wants to achieve as a result of the communication. The more thought you put into why you want to open up this process the more objective and focused your purpose will be.

The most productive communications have a single objective ensuring clarity and ease of comprehension. Any conversation, discussion, or meeting can have many exchanges but focusing on a single objective will ensure your success.

Once you have established the reason why you want or need to communicate you can structure the format of your message according to the principle's other components.

In your management role you will find yourself needing to communicate in a wide variety of situations - for example, with your team, colleagues, management, stakeholders, suppliers, etc. For your communications to be effective it is essential that you define the nature of each situation and adapt your message to fit what you see.

Is the environment a positive or negative one? Are the individuals reacting to events or being proactive? Is there conflict, aggression, dissension, or apathy? The questions are endless, but by asking just a few simple questions you will gather the necessary intelligence to communicate effectively. This preparation enables you to adopt the best style of communication to suit your approach and prepare for potential arguments or problems.

Having defined your reason for communicating and the type of environment it will take place in you must now specify exactly what it is you want or need from the other person. You must make sure that you have any supporting information, background, or data that guarantees that your message and exchange will have clarity.

In some contexts you will need to break down your supporting information into manageable chunks. For example, if you have to report on the progress of an event or project you will have to adjust your message according to the specific audience:

• Executives want to hear financial and business aspects
• Users will want to hear how it is progressing
• Project members want or need to know how well each phase or individual process is going in comparison to the plan
• Stakeholders want to know that business needs are being met.

Being specific is not just related to the message itself; it is also about who needs to informed. Many people gloss over this aspect of communication and cause themselves problems by sending inappropriate messages to the wrong audience, resulting in unnecessary interruptions and diversions.

If you select only those who have a real need to know the contents of the message you will have more effective communications. Technology such as emails and texts make it all too easy to copy in unnecessary and inappropriate people. Lead by your own example and you will create an open and honest communications culture.

Whatever form of communication you need to conduct, an essential part of the process is ensuring that the recipient actually understands correctly the message you want to give them. You also want to be sure that resulting action by an individual or group is what you want and expect so that you achieve your communication objective.

You can't afford to make any assumptions: you need to get confirmation from the recipient that they have the same understanding as you about what a situation may be and what the required action plan is. It is vital that you remember that comprehension is a two-way process. Not only do you need to know that others in the communication process understand you, but you also need to confirm that you have understood what they have told you.

You will only gain this level of 'true' understanding if you actively listen to what is being said and observe the behaviors of those involved in the communication. Make sure that your own verbal and nonverbal communications convey the message you want.

Remember, use your observation skills throughout the exchange to gauge the attitude and acceptance of your audience. Ensure that you are totally focused on what is being said and feed back your own understanding of what you are being told.

If you do this you will avoid any unnecessary confusion and misinterpretations that often occur when someone does not take the time to listen properly.

The final aspect of the RESULT principle is concerned with the amount of time you have to prepare for and conduct the actual communication. Not all exchanges occur in situations where you have all the time you want.

Frequently you will find that the time you have to prepare is very limited and you will have to adjust your preparation to fit what time you have at your disposal. However much time you have, make sure that you use it effectively by following these principles. The better prepared you are the more effective and productive your communications will be.

This RESULT Principle Checklist will help you to properly prepare and approach your communications so that your all your exchanges are effective.

You may also be interested in:
Effective Communication in the Workplace | Workplace Communication Styles | Recognizing Workplace Communication Styles | Perceptual Preferences | Attitudes to Communications | Communication Research | Barriers to Communication.

Key Points

  • The RESULT principle can help you to improve your communication skills.
  • The acronym stands for Reason, Environment, Specific, Understanding, Listen, and Timeframe.
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