How does one measure effective communication?

Wanting to purchase a new television set, I asked three salespeople from three different shops what the difference between a LCD and a LED television set was.

Salesperson A: (after measuring the widths of two television sets with her fingers) I think… LCD is thicker than LED.

Salesperson B: Last time, the TV got one big lamp. Now, it’s all dot dot, dot dot. LCD and LED are both dot dot, dot dot but the light at the back is different.

Salesperson C: If you want to put the TV in your bedroom, LCD will feel hot. Customer complain that even with the air con on, the room is still hot.

Musing about which of the three had communicated most effectively, I thought about several tongue-in-cheek ways I could evaluate them.

Evaluation Type 1: A Pseudo-Epistemological/Philosophical Query

A presented me with situated knowledge based on her observation that one screen was thicker than the other, before she used inductive reasoning to conclude that the main difference between LCD and LED television sets was that LCD sets were thicker in width, based on two display sets.

B shared scientific knowledge with me and presented me with a logical relationship between the old types of CRT television sets and the LCD/LED sets, before going on to give more scientific information about the difference in the type of back lighting of LCD and LED sets.

C used second-hand knowledge of a previous customer’s lived experience with the heat generated from an LCD television set to imply that LCD sets generated a lot of heat.

Conclusion from EvaluationType 1: A and C both had fallacies in the form of flawed generalisations, while B presented me with the technical knowledge that the question probably had implied. However, because of the gaps in B’s content vocabulary, I could have been even more confused, had I not had some limited prior knowledge about LEDs.

Evaluation Type 2: A Qualitative Approach to the Affective Responses to the Speech Acts

If I were to adopt the definition that effective communication is when one does not get confused by the other person, I would probably embark on a study of my affective responses to all three salespeople in terms of how confused or enlightened I was on a 2-point Likert Scale.

Simply put, was my initial response to the salesperson “Huh?” or “Ah!”?

Conclusion from Evaluation Type 2: While I was amused with all three salespeople, I would have to say that only C produced an “Ah!” (and hence, enlightened) response.

Evaluation Type 3: An analysis of the statements using PACC (Purpose, Audience, Culture and Context)

Purpose: To give advice on the products and persuade a potential customer to purchase a television set

Audience: Potential customer

Culture: Singaporean

Context: Heartland shopping centre located in the East. Salesperson A worked in a hypermart that sold everything from fruits to electronic goods, while salespeople B and C worked in dedicated electronic shops that sold a myriad of electronic goods from cameras to computers.

Conclusion from Evaluation Type 3: Based on PACC, I would probably say Salesperson C was closest to persuading me to buy a television set because he used the strategy of a narrative to tell me that he had some experience selling televisions.

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