Completeness—One of Six ‘C’ Qualities of Effective Communication

The ‘C of Completeness’, one of six Cs which represents six (6) qualities of effective communication, calls for senders to compose messages to promote goodwill and meet the completeness criteria of who, what, when, where, and how.

Offering complete and relevant information makes communication effective as it rules out the need of another cycle of communication to clarify issues.

WordsOpens in new window express parts of a whole thought. Several words work together to express an entire thought in a sentence.

Sentences Opens in new window become building blocks for messages.

Transitional phrases or words such as however, next, and therefore help connect sentences to paragraphs.

What's this?

A complete message is of paramount importance as it promotes goodwill, and uses sentences to answer all the 6 W questions—who, what, when, where, why, and how.

When you are developing a message, you do not need to answer the questions who, what, when, where, why, and how in a prescribed order. However, to have a complete message, you must include all of the appropriate answers.

After writing a draft of your message, use the criteria below to evaluate your message for completeness.

Completeness Criteria
  • Who?
    Who is the intended receiver? Is the content appropriate for the intended receiver?
  • What?
    What is your objective? Will the reader know what to do?
  • When?
    When should the reader respond? Have you included complete, accurate details?
  • Where?
    Where should the reader respond? Have you identified names, postal and electronic addresses, and telephone and fax numbers?
  • Why?
    Why should the reader respond? Have you stated a benefit for the reader?
  • How?
    Have you encouraged a positive response? Does your message promote goodwill?

Notice how the following examples does not satisfactorily answer the questions who, what, when, where, why, and how :
Please attend our in-service meeting on Thursday at 5 p.m. The meeting will end by 6:30 p.m.

  1. Who? Your name was included on the distribution list, but you do not know is sponsoring the meeting.
  2. What? An in-service meeting is being held, but you do not know what kind of a program is planned.
  3. When? The meeting begins at 5 p.m. and ends by 6:30 p.m., but you do not know which Thursday to attend.
  4. Where? You do not know the location of the meeting.
  5. Why? The reason for this particular meeting is unknown.
  6. How? You do not know how the meeting will benefit you.
A Model of Complete Message

The illustration below shows a complete, clear message:

A model of complete, clear message
A model of complete, clear message
Important Hint! 

Maintain Goodwill
Develop clear, complete messages so readers will understand you. Your complete message will more effectively promote goodwill when readers know exactly what you are asking for or what you are offering to do.