Communication Skills Essay
In summary, this report is based on the based on how the skill of effective communication can improve your writing, listening, conflict and anger management skills. It is seen that communication is the key to proper writing which is critical to tertiary education students as is required for the successful completion of a certificate, degree and masters. Also, communication can be an influential force in effective listening, which is important for job interviews, group projects and communication in the workplace. Lastly, there is conflict and anger management which are problems that usually arrive due to the lack of adequate communication skills.
Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another; it involves a sender transmitting an idea, information, or feeling to a receiver. Effective communication occurs only if the receiver understands the exact information or idea that the sender intended to transmit. Many of the problems that occur in an organization are the either the direct result of people failing to communicate and/or processes, which leads to confusion and can cause good plans to fail (U.S. Army, 1983). The following are elements of communication (Pearson, 1983): 1.1.1 Communication Channels
This is the term given to the way in which we communicate. There are multiple communication channels available to us today, for example face-to-face conversations, telephone calls, text messages, email, the Internet (including social media such as Facebook and Twitter), radio and TV, written letters, brochures and reports to name just a few. As a result choosing an appropriate communication channel is vital for effective communication as each communication channel has different strengths and weaknesses. 1.1.2 Encoding Messages
All messages must be encoded into a form that can be conveyed by the communication channel chosen for the message. We all do this every day when transferring abstract thoughts into spoken words or a written form. However, other communication channels require different forms of encoding, e.g. text written for a report will not work well if broadcast via a radio programme, and the short, abbreviated text used in text messages would be inappropriate if sent via a letter. Complex data may be best communicated using a graph or chart or other visualisation. Effective communicators encode their messages with their intended audience in mind as well as the communication channel. This involves an appropriate use of language, conveying the information simply and clearly, anticipating and eliminating likely causes of confusion and misunderstanding, and knowing the receivers’ experience in decoding other similar communications. Successful encoding of messages is a vital skill in effective communication.
1.1.3 Decoding Messages
Once received, the receivers need to decode the message, and successful decoding is also a vital skill. Individuals will decode and understand messages in different ways based upon any Barriers to Communication which might be present, their experience and understanding of the context of the message, their psychological state, and the time and place of receipt as well as many other potential factors. Understanding how the message will be decoded, and anticipating as many of the potential sources of misunderstanding as possible, is the art of a successful communicator.
Receivers of messages are likely to provide feedback on how they have understood the messages through both verbal and non-verbal reactions. Effective communicators should pay close attention to this feedback as it the only way to assess whether the message has been understood as intended, and it allows any confusion to be corrected. Bear in mind that the extent and form of feedback will vary according to the communication channel used: for example feedback during a face-to-face or telephone conversation will be immediate and direct, whilst feedback to messages conveyed via TV or radio will be indirect and may be delayed, or even conveyed through other media such as the Internet. Without the above elements it would be impossible to have effective communication.
2. Types of Communication
People communicate with each other in a number of ways that depend upon the message and its context in which it is being sent. Choice of communication channel and your style of communicating also affect communication. So, there are varieties of types of communication. Types of communication based on the communication channels used are (Muhammad, 2012): Verbal Communication
2.1 Verbal Communication
Verbal communication refers to the form of communication in which message is transmitted verbally; communication is done by word of mouth and a piece of writing. Objective of every communication is to have people understand what we are trying to convey. In verbal communication remember the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple). When we talk to others, we assume that others understand what we are saying because we know what we are saying. But this is not the case. Usually people bring their own attitude, perception, emotions and thoughts about the topic and hence creates barrier in delivering the right meaning. So in order to deliver the right message, you must put yourself on the other side of the table and think from your receiver’s point of view. Would he understand the message? How it would sound on the other side of the table?
Verbal Communication is further divided into:
2.1.1 Oral Communication
In oral communication, Spoken words are used. It includes face-to-face conversations, speech, telephonic conversation, video, radio, television, voice over internet. In oral communication, communication is influence by pitch, volume, speed and clarity of speaking. Advantages of Oral communication are:
It brings quick feedback.
In a face-to-face conversation, by reading facial expression and body language one can guess whether he/she should trust what’s being said or not. Disadvantage of oral communication:
In face-to-face discussion, the user is unable to deeply think about what he is delivering; as a result they may say the wrong thing.
2.1.2 Written Communication
In written communication, written signs or symbols are used to communicate. A written message may be printed or hand written. In written communication message can be transmitted via email, letter, report, memo etc. Message, in written communication, is influenced by the vocabulary & grammar used, writing style, precision and clarity of the language used. Written Communication is most common form of communication being used in business. So, it is considered core among business skills. Memos, reports, bulletins, job descriptions, employee manuals, and electronic mail are the types of written communication used for internal communication. For communicating with external environment in writing, electronic mail, Internet Web sites, letters, proposals, telegrams, faxes, postcards, contracts, advertisements, brochures, and news releases are used. Advantages of written communication include:
Messages can be edited and revised many times before it is actually sent. Written communication provides record for every message sent and can be saved for later study. A written message enables receiver to fully understand it and send appropriate feedback.
Disadvantages of written communication include:
Unlike oral communication, written communication doesn’t bring instant feedback. It takes more time in composing a written message as compared to word-of-mouth. A number of people may struggle with their writing ability.
2.2 Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication is the sending or receiving of wordless messages. We can say that communication other than oral and written, such as gesture, body language, posture, tone of voice or facial expressions, is called nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is all about the body language of speaker. Nonverbal communication helps receiver in interpreting the message received. Often, nonverbal signals reflect the situation more accurately than verbal messages. Sometimes nonverbal responses contradict verbal communication and hence affect the effectiveness of message. Nonverbal communication has the following three elements:
Speaker: clothing, hairstyle, neatness, use of cosmetics
Surrounding: room size, lighting, decorations, furnishings
2. Body Language
Facial expressions, gestures, postures
Voice Tone, Volume, and Speech rate
3. Barriers to Communication
There exist many barriers to communication and these may occur at any stage in the communication process. Barriers may lead to your message becoming distorted and you therefore risk wasting both time and/or money by causing confusion and misunderstanding. Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message.
3.1 Physical Barriers
An example of a physical barrier to communication is geographic distance between the sender and receiver(s). Communication is generally easier over shorter distances as more communication channels are available and less technology is required. Although modern technology often serves to reduce the impact of physical barriers, the advantages and disadvantages of each communication channel should be understood so that an appropriate channel can be used to overcome the physical barriers (Ting-Toomey and Chung, 2004).
3.2 Psychological/Emotional Barriers
To communicate effectively, according to McBride and Maitland (2001, p.117) you must clearly convey thoughts and emotions both verbally and nonverbally. Many times, emotional barriers on your part or the part of the person you are speaking with may inhibit your ability to communicate on an effective level. Your emotional state may influence your capacity to make yourself understood and hamper your understanding of others.
3.3 Cultural Barriers
Cultures provide people with ways of thinking–ways of seeing, hearing, and interpreting the world. Thus the same words can mean different things to people from different cultures, even when they talk the “same” language. When the languages are different, and translation has to be used to communicate, the potential for misunderstandings increases. Ting-Toomey and Chung (2004) describes three ways in which culture interferes with communication as: 1. Cognitive Constraints – These are the frames of reference or world views that provide a backdrop that all new information is compared to or inserted into. 2. Behaviour Constraints – Each culture has its own rules about proper behaviour which affect verbal and nonverbal communication. 3. Emotional Constraints – Different cultures regulate the display of emotion differently. Some cultures get very emotional when they are debating an issue. However, this fails to take account of “Linguistic Constraints” that may be involved when communicating with someone from a different culture. The lack of knowledge about all barriers can hinder your attempt to communicate effectively.
3. Effective Listening
It is vital to keep an open mind while you are listening. If you have already judged a situation and come to an option you are likely to hear only those things which are consistent with your existing opinion. Focus on what the speaker is saying and how they are saying it. Failure to adhere to these rules it may make it difficult for you to communicate effectively and clearly understand what is expected of you, whether the requirements for an assignment or specifications for a module. Effective listening will be crucial to your success in writing for educational advance (Cameron, 2009).
4. Conflict and Anger Management
Conflict is a lack of agreement between opinions and principles of needs, values and interests. Conflict can be internal (within oneself) or external (between two or more individuals). Conflict as a concept can help explain many aspects of social life such as social disagreement, conflict of interests, and fights between individuals, groups or organisations. In political terms, “conflict” can refer to wars, revolutions or other struggles, which may involve the use of force as in the term “armed conflict” (Myers, 2007). Conflict can be a major hindrance for effective communication, but can be controlled through proper communication skills.
4.2 Anger Management
Anger is an emotion related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged, or denied and a tendency to react through retaliation. Anger is a normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation. The term anger management commonly refers to a system of psychological therapeutic techniques and exercises by which someone with excessive or uncontrollable anger and aggression can control or reduce the triggers, degrees, and effects of an angered emotional state (Centrec Care, 2002). Through networks that facilitates proper communication such as therapy or counselling one can learn how to proper deal with their anger which can be a barrier to effective communication.
In conclusion, these are all ways by which communication can be helpful to an individual who is interesting in building their employability, writing and interpersonal skills. Communication is vital to everyday task and can be the deciding factor on its successful completion or failure. Effective communication is a skill that can be applied to a wide variety of other skills. Once used properly this is no limit to the new skills you can attain. 6. Recommendations
The purpose of this report is to inform readers on the importance of having effective communication skills and how it can help improve your other skills such as listening, writing and conflict management. I recommend that reader try to implement each of the listed skills above through communication to help them advance in their goals. Whether it is to listen more and talk less or just being aware of your tone and body language when communicating to others. You may be surprised by the difference in response you may receive from others.
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