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The importance of communication, how to achieve harmony!

One of the corner stones of every successful team is how well they coordinate their actions together. How they gel together stems from several aspects both inside and outside the gaming environment. Today we are going to look at one particular in-game aspect that can be a deciding factor for a team’s success. Communication; a well discussed topic, is often being put to blame when a team does something strange or just plain “wrong”. I’m going to try and shed some light on how we, here at Thought Control, view communication in a competitive environment and what it should look like to provide the most for your team.

Harmony: the goal of communication

Before we start talking about what communication is for a competitive team I want to highlight the goal of communication in the first place. Communication, otherwise phrased as 'the transference of information' occurs almost constantly in our day to day lives. It’s what our senses have been designed for to pick up on, to better orientate ourselves and make more adequate decisions.

When looking at the competitive scene of nearly all games there is a lot of important information being passed around that needs to be acted upon. You will probably be familiar with the saying “knowledge is power”, and this is particularly true when it comes to competitive gaming. Knowledge stems from gathered and interpreted information, and knowing how to act on the set of given circumstances. When it comes to individual play, like 1 on 1 Starcraft or Hearthstone, you as a player are solely responsible for gathering and interpreting the information at hand. For teamgames like League of Legends, or shooters like Overwatch there is more to it. Just like the 1 on 1 games, where you as an individual player are gathering important information, you also need to convey that information to your teammates who can’t always see/hear what you are picking up. For games like these, functioning as a cohesive unit is of the upmost importance for having the biggest chance at success. Individual play and strengths are still crucial, but when matched versus equally skilled players the more coordinated team has the upper hand.

When trying to communicate you are adjusting one’s personal set of knowledge to that of the entire team (or the matching units). Being coordinated means there is a sense of harmony, each part (player) of the machine (team) knows what to do and when to do it. If your transfer of knowledge did not have a beneficial effect on the harmony, you can ask yourself the question; did I communicate correctly?

Communication

“Harmony is power” when it comes to teams. Each and every pillar of the team can be rock solid, but only when combined they can support the house. Achieving this harmony requires effective communication. In a nutshell, communication or communicating is when 2 or more individuals are interchanging information with one another. Typing this article is a way of communicating, so is talking to someone on the phone or sending a letter in the mail, hell you could even throw a branch at someone which sends across a message and thus call it communication.

In a competitive gaming scene there are several ways of communicating information. The most common way of communication is through the use of our voice. Popular 3rd party programs include Teamspeak, Skype, Discord, or their ingame counterparts are well represented in all of the eSports scene.

We tend to share large parts of our personal knowledge obtained through our gameplay with the rest of our team (or not). The way we do this is by one or multiple ways of communicating with others. Communication is a personal subject, each and every individual communicates differently. The first noticeable difference between players is often the sheer volume of information they share with their teammates. How much do they talk and what are they talking about? The pretty lighting effects of the damage spells or the factual amount of hp remaining on your opponent? Other parts of their communication might not seem that different, but when closely examining what information is being transferred, you learn to understand what is actually useful or not.

But how does communication need to look like to be effective? This is quite hard to answer, since it varies greatly depending on the variables of each unique situation. There is no one answer fits all kind of scenario, yet here are 5 basic rules you can follow to try and make your communication more effective.

·        Be clear

o   This point focuses on your articulation, volume and general usage of your voice. It’s the tool you use to communicate with, if you can’t be correctly understood there is a good chance your knowledge won’t be transferred in the way you intended.

·        Be thorough

o   Being thorough address the entirety of your message, convey all the variables that are important for your message. Make those variables into a comprehensive message.

·        Stay positive

o   This might be self-explanatory yet it still has to be said. The goal of communication is to create harmony between your teammates, and being negative only helps break the harmony. Avoid “saltiness” and try to use compliments when they are due, they provide a slight moral boost and reaffirm correct actions from your teammates!

·        Be precise

o   Being precise goes hand in hand with being thorough. You want to be thorough with your message but also precise. You can easily be over thorough and specify each and every detail of information, but that is often not needed and clouds the message. Simple example below:

§  “Lissandra is heading bot, she doesn’t have all her cooldowns and just left 10 seconds ago” versus “Lissandra is heading bot, she’s at drake, no ult” or “Enemies at B” versus “atleast 2 at B, sniper there”

·        Be accurate

o   This is a tricky one, but sometimes it’s better to say nothing. Conveying “questionable” or wrong information can cause indecisiveness or even bad calls. Make sure that which you try to communicate is correct and can be used to your teams advantage.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and learned a thing or two about the role communication has in a team environment. It’s one of the most crucial and often also the hardest to points to work on. It often requires changing old behavioural patterns and hours of work to consistently improve communication. Especially when looking at a competitive scene where you are pushed to your limit as an athlete on multiple fronts, communication and overall team harmony is just one of many.

With kind regards,
Tom Vijgenboom B.Sc.
Thought Control.

Tom VijgenboomComment