Principles of Effective Communication

6 Principles to effectively communicate your message with lessons from the Prophet Noah (piece be upon him) in his mission as a messenger of God.

1| Simplify Your Message

Your message can be sophisticated but should not complicated. Sophistication tickles the mind and the heart, while complication troubles them!

To simplify your message is to turn sophistication into a simple stream of thought:

(( إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَى قَوْمِهِ أَنْ أَنذِرْ قَوْمَكَ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (1) قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ (2) أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَطِيعُونِ (3)) – نوح

Indeed, We sent Noah to his people, [saying], "Warn your people before there comes to them a painful punishment.“ He said, "O my people, indeed I am to you a clear warner. Worship Allah, fear Him and obey me.” [Quran 71:1-3]

Noah used simple language in delivering his message, as well as a clear breakdown of the essence of Monotheism.

2| Connect to a Cause

Build a solid foundation by connecting to a noble cause. Winning the hearts & minds is bigger than a “carrot & stick”. Consider connecting to one or more of the six human needs.

The Six Human Needs (according to Tony Robbins)
  • Certainty & Safety
  • Variety & Challenge
  • Significance & Worth
  • Love & Connection
  • Contribution & Impact
  • Growth & Development

(( أَن لاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ اللّهَ إِنِّيَ أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ أَلِيمٍ (26)) – هود

[Noah Saying] “That you not worship except Allah. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a painful day.“ [Quran 11:26]

Noah is connecting to "love and connection" for his people.

(( يَغْفِرْ لَكُم مِّن ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرْكُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى إِنَّ أَجَلَ اللَّهِ إِذَا جَاء لَا يُؤَخَّرُ لَوْ كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (4)) – نوح

[Noah Saying] “Allah will forgive you of your sins and delay you for a specified term. Indeed, the time [set by] Allah, when it comes, will not be delayed, if you only knew.” [Quran 71:4]

Noah is connecting to both "certainty and safety" and "growth and development".

3| Address the Human

The world is still ruled by humans not machines. So, please speak to the humans and understand them!

Working with humans means you need to:
  • Accept Mistakes and Failures
  • Balance Emotions and Logic
  • Embrace Change and Flexibility
  • Persuade & Influence
  • Avoid Perfection and Ideals
  • Be Patient

(( وَلاَ أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِندِي خَزَآئِنُ اللّهِ وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ وَلاَ أَقُولُ إِنِّي مَلَكٌ وَلاَ أَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ تَزْدَرِي أَعْيُنُكُمْ لَن يُؤْتِيَهُمُ اللّهُ خَيْرًا اللّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ إِنِّي إِذًا لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ (31)) – هود

[Noah Saying] “And I do not tell you that I have the depositories [containing the provision] of Allah or that I know the unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel ...” [Quran 11:31]

Noah is clearing himself from being an "ideal" like angels, and emphasizing that his just a human.

(( مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا (13) وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا (14)) – نوح

[Noah Saying] “What is [the matter] with you that you do not attribute to Allah [due] grandeur. While He has created you in stages?” [Quran 71:13-14]

Noah is balancing the logic and emotions towards Allah the creator.

(( وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَى قَوْمِهِ فَلَبِثَ فِيهِمْ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ إِلَّا خَمْسِينَ عَامًا فَأَخَذَهُمُ الطُّوفَانُ وَهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ (14)) - العنكبوت

And We certainly sent Noah to his people, and he remained among them a thousand years minus fifty years, and the flood seized them while they were wrongdoers. [Quran 29:14]

Patience was a trait of Noah, piece be upon him.

4| Use a Variety of Methods

People have different styles and preferences, so be ready to broadcast at different frequencies to address as many as possible.

Mix and Match Different Methods
  • Verbal & Written vs. Visual & Infographs
  • Presentations & Meetings vs. Corridor/Coffee Chats
  • 1:1 & Small Groups vs. LARGE Groups/Masses
Repeat Messages Across Multiple Channels
  • Emails/Correspondence
  • Social Media
  • Meetings/Conferences
  • Printed Material
  • Bulletin Boards
  • Websites

(( قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُ قَوْمِي لَيْلًا وَنَهَارًا (5) ... ثُمَّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُهُمْ جِهَارًا (8) ثُمَّ إِنِّي أَعْلَنتُ لَهُمْ وَأَسْرَرْتُ لَهُمْ إِسْرَارًا (9)) – نوح

[Noah Saying] "My Lord, indeed I invited my people [to truth] night and day. … Then I invited them publicly. Then I announced to them and [also] confided to them secretly” [Quran 71:5,8-9]

Noah used different methods to deliver his message.

5| Encourage & Reward Followers

The “carrot & stick” strategy still works. Use incentives and rewards for those who listen & follow your message.

Money as a reward is only one of many:
  • Recognition
  • Seeking Personal Challenge
  • Creating an Impact
  • Boosting Self-esteem
  • Gaining Knowledge & Experience

(( فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا (10) يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاء عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا (11) وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَارًا (12)) – نوح

[Noah Saying] “And said, 'Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers. And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers.’” [Quran 71:10-12]

Noah addressed both monetary and non-monetary rewards for those who follow his message.

6| Highlight the Consequences

The stick in a “carrot & stick” strategy. Use discouragement and penalties for those who don’t listen (if appropriate).

Monetary and Non-monetary Penalties
  • Shame/Disgrace
  • Exposure
  • Dismissal
  • Escalation
  • Deprivation/ Excommunication

((وَيَصْنَعُ الْفُلْكَ وَكُلَّمَا مَرَّ عَلَيْهِ مَلأٌ مِّن قَوْمِهِ سَخِرُواْ مِنْهُ قَالَ إِن تَسْخَرُواْ مِنَّا فَإِنَّا نَسْخَرُ مِنكُمْ كَمَا تَسْخَرُونَ (38) فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ مَن يَأْتِيهِ عَذَابٌ يُخْزِيهِ وَيَحِلُّ عَلَيْهِ عَذَابٌ مُّقِيمٌ (39)) – هود

And he constructed the ship, and whenever an assembly of the eminent of his people passed by him, they ridiculed him. He said, "If you ridicule us, then we will ridicule you just as you ridicule.” “And you are going to know who will get a punishment that will disgrace him [on earth] and upon whom will descend an enduring punishment [in the Hereafter].“ [Quran 11:38-39]

Noah highlighted the shame and disgrace as a way of punishment for those who disgraced him for his message.

(( قَالَ نُوحٌ رَّبِّ إِنَّهُمْ عَصَوْنِي وَاتَّبَعُوا مَن لَّمْ يَزِدْهُ مَالُهُ وَوَلَدُهُ إِلَّا خَسَارًا (21) ... وَقَالَ نُوحٌ رَّبِّ لَا تَذَرْ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ دَيَّارًا (26)) - نوح

Noah said, "My Lord, indeed they have disobeyed me and followed him whose wealth and children will not increase him except in loss. And Noah said, "My Lord, do not leave upon the earth from among the disbelievers an inhabitant. [Quran 71:21,26]

Noah escalated to God the disobedience of his people as prayed against them.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place

-George Bernard Shaw

And here is a slideshare of this post: