Communication is the essence of life. It is necessary. Communication is part and parcel of our daily interactions with people. Without that mankind would be better off living in isolation. Without communication treaties and relationships would not have been made between countries, people, communities and ethnicities. Ideas would be difficult to generate because without the existence of communication, how would you tell your ideas to others. Desires and feelings would be hard to express.
What is Communication?
Communication can be defined as how we give and receive information and convey our ideas and opinions with people around us. Communication is a two way street; It involves both how we send and receive messages.
One important point to take note is that communication varies. For instance communicating ideas in the world of work is different from communicating in an academic setting. In a classroom setting, the teacher usually leads the group discussions the students respond or ask questions when directed to do so. In the work environment, your supervisors may ask you of your opinion.
Communication can be categorized into several aspects these are:
- Verbal communication
- Non-verbal communication
- Written and visual communication
- Verbal communication: it is defined as the use of sounds and words to express yourself this is in contrast in using hand gestures to communicate.
- Non-verbal communication: this is defined as the use of facial expressions, hand gestures, body positions in communicating this is done in absence of words and sounds. This could be linked to body language.
- Aural communication: this involves the transmission of information through the auditory sensory system. (The system of speaking and hearing). It usually encompasses both verbal communication and paralinguistic communication to convey meaning.
- Written and visual communication: it is the process of conveying messages through the use of words. To further explain, any message that is exchanged between two or more people through the use of written words is defined as a written communication.
The importance of effective communication
To an employer, good communication skills are essential, employers rank good communication skills at the top of the list of potential employees. Ideas and message are relayed across to each other without the occurance of miscommunication.
When can communication be described as “effective”?
Effective communication is about more than just exchanging communication. It is about understanding the emotions and intentions behind the information. It is also about being able to clearly convey the message.
When is Communication ineffective?
Ineffective communication can be defined as the attempt to communicate something to others but it is perceived differently than what you intended.All too often, when we try to communicate with others, something goes astray. We say one thing and the other person hears something else and misunderstanding, frustration and conflict ensue. Effects of this can cause problems in home, school and the work environment
What is stopping you from communicating effectively?
Stress and out of control emotion:
When you are stressed or emotionally overwhelmed, you are more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behaviour. To avoid conflict and misunderstandings, you can learn how to quickly calm down before continuing a conversation.
Lack of focus:
You can’t communicate effectively when you are multitasking. If you are checking your email or planning what you are going to say next or daydreaming. You are likely not going to understand what the person is saying to you. You need to avoid distractions and be focused.
Inconsistent body language:
Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said and not contradict it. If you say one thing, but your body language says something else, your listener will feel that you are being dishonest. An example is saying yes whilst you are shaking your head no.
Tips in mastering the art of effective communication
- Engaged listening: always listen carefully to what others have to say. Effective communication is more of less talking and more listening. We listen for many different reasons: to understand instructions, to empathize with another individual, or to judge whether a plan is good or not.
- Ask questions: for communication to be effective, if one has difficulty in understanding what the other person has said. The best solution is to ask questions.
- Avoid interrupting other people especially when they are speaking. Respect them by letting them finish saying what they are saying.
- Nonverbal communication: e.g. maintaining eye contact to the person you are speaking to.
- Asserting yourself in a respectful way: being assertive means expressing thoughts and feelings and needs in an open and honest way, while standing up for yourself and respecting others.
- Communicate clearly: for communication to be effective, make sure everything you say is understood. Be confident in saying what you need to say but be tactful. It is significant to avoid giving vague and ambiguous messages.
With communication, ideas and opinions would be understood amongst ourselves. Misunderstandings and confusion would then cease to become an issue in the work environment, the home and our society as a whole.