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The 7 Cs of Communication Explained With Examples

7 Cs of communication
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / 089photoshootings

The 7 Cs of communication can be applied to oral and written forms of speech and are designed to maximize the efficacy of our interactions. Learn more here.

The seven Cs of communication are: clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, considerate/courteous, and coherent. They were first described in the 1952 book, Effective Public Relations, by University of Wisconsin professors Scott Cutlip and Allen Center. Since then, this approach has been used across the globe in personal and professional settings to maximize the effectiveness of our communications and interactions.

The 7 Cs of communication have been used successfully for 70 years because communicating isn’t always straightforward and by implementing these seven steps, we can make it better. These principles can make it easier for us to do things like set boundaries at work or in our relationships, communicate our needs or how we feel, and deliver information the way we intended to. Communication skills apply to a huge variety of human interactions and the principles of the 7 Cs of communication can be applied to them all.

Why Should We Use The 7 Cs of Effective Communication?

The 7 Cs of communication can be applied to many interactions.
The 7 Cs of communication can be applied to many interactions.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / jamesoladujoye)

Poor communication which does not encompass the 7 Cs of effective communication can negatively impact a huge array of our professional and personal dynamics. Financially, it is estimated to cost businesses over a trillion dollars every year. Other statistics suggest that 86 percent of workplace employees and executives blame ineffective communication and collaboration as primary causes for failures in the work setting.

In healthcare, poor communication can have devastating effects and even lead to life-threatening events. According to the Brookings Institute in Washington, bad communication is also at the core of American health inequalities — and is a failing of the health system, not of patients. Suffice it to say, the 7 Cs of communication in professional settings can be the difference between success and failure, equality and inequality, and even life and death.

Most of us have experienced the impacts of ineffective communication at various points in our personal lives too. These negative interactions can be stressful and impact our mental well-being during and after the event. How we communicate will have a major effect on all our relationships. Studies show that the quality of couples’ communication can predict long-term satisfaction within the relationship. 

Effective communication involves exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and data so that the message is received and understood with clarity and purpose. When we communicate effectively, both the sender and receiver feel satisfied. Using the 7 Cs of effective communication will therefore enhance all of our relationships, both personal and professional. So, let’s take a look at each one and how we can use them to improve our own communication skills.

The 7 Cs of Effective Communication

Improve your interactions with the 7 Cs of communication.
Improve your interactions with the 7 Cs of communication.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / cuncon)

1. Clear

When communicating something, clarity is vital if we want the other party to completely understand. It’s important to be clear about the purpose of the message and why the recipient is receiving it. Keeping the language simple can help reduce ambiguity. Present one aspect or part of the message at a time. 

2. Correct

This C of effective communication involves making sure the information being exchanged is correct and truthful. Provide sources or examples if appropriate and always fact-check before communicating something. If your communication is written, ensure that your format, referencing and grammar are also correct. Proofread your message for errors before sending it.

3. Complete

Complete communication involves delivering all of the information necessary. The other party should have a clear picture of everything they need to know in order to understand accurately and respond appropriately. A complete message should not leave room for questions or queries.

4. Concrete

Make sure the message or explanation is factual. Try to find the balance between too much or too little detail and use props like pictures, graphs, or data if appropriate. Emphasize your main focus points to keep the message concrete.

5. Concise

Keep to the point! Short and simple will promote a concise communication experience for all parties. Don’t use unnecessary words or add information for the sake of it. Make your points individually and don’t repeat the same point in different ways.

6. Considerate/Courteous

Empathy is at the heart of considerate communication and the difference between a clear message and a blunt or abrupt one. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and take their feelings and situation into account. Consider how the message might impact them and how they are likely to respond to what is being communicated. Effective communication should always be polite and friendly communication generally generates more welcome responses. The level of formality required will depend on the situation.

7. Coherent

Organize the points you want to make in a logical, chronological, or systematic order. Try to connect your points to maintain flow, but without adding unnecessary information. Again, if you are communicating in writing — format and structure your message appropriately.

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