Old Myth: "Effective communication is inevitable with well-designed conversations."
New principle: "Effective patterns of communication and interaction are not the result of a good conversation. They are formed by coordinating episodes of interaction and making desired choices at the critical turns that come together to shape the pattern."
Business literature is full of books about effective communication, especially about effective conversations and how to have them. There are structures and models for difficult conversations, feedback, appraisals, and so on, to help us navigate and coordinate our actions better with other people. The intention is good and as I have said before, sometimes the practical how-to-scripts are useful first steps. Usually these linear step by step guidelines, however, can move our attention away from really being present in the situation and responding to the emerging patterns of communication.
Communication is much more complex and richer than a five step practice. Many times I have experienced that the so called effective conversations occur when there's more improvisation and surprises along the way. Well, in the end we come to the question what we think is effective.
* The myths and principles are citations from Sostrin, J. (2013) Re-Making Communication at Work.