Effective communication skills, one of the most important and must learn skills for dealing with every situation in one's life. The greater chance of success in jobs, socially, among friends and family, children, spouse, boss or colleagues etc, all depends upon how effectively can you communicate.
Half of the things people try to communicate gets lost in translation, interpretation and understanding. What you are trying you say is not always what the other person listening understands which can causes misunderstandings.
Though many people accept their ineffectiveness in communication as it is, everybody can actually develop effective communication skills in time with practice. It is mostly spontaneous rather than staged or pre-rehearsed as it has greater impact if it looks spontaneous and emotional.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”
What is Effective Communication?
Effective communication is getting message across as intended and getting desired feedback by influencing and attracting attention. Communication is not only to receive information but also to understand the intention behind the message. Full meaning of the message has to be conveyed using skills which includes verbal, non-verbal or written communication.
Communication is a two-way process. Feedback and interactions are processes to know if communication process has been successful or not. Listening is another aspect of effective communication. People should not only learn to say what is needed effectively and assertively, but also listen and understand what the other person or party is saying. Effective communication is required to change other’s behaviors, create a perception on anything and get information from somebody else.
Psychosocial problems like stress and mood swings are added abilities needed for effective communication. You should understand your own feelings and emotions to communicate.
Why is Effective Communication Important?
Effective Communication can build trust, make people understand you, get respected and develop relationships. Effective communication is needed to build rapport as well as deepen relationships as required. Relationship problems can be avoided with it. It can be used for decision making, reaching to conclusions and solve problems through interaction in conflicts. It can also be helpful if you have to convey negative messages. Having good relationship with people reduces stress and anxiety. You will also have social support and backup.
Working in team or group also requires effective communication skills. Reaching to consensus is only possible with good communication between people. You must have assertiveness to influence people and make them believe in you.
Having good communication with family and friends can help you to share your problems and feelings. Effective communication is necessary to develop friendships and contacts. You don’t have to depend on other people to communicate something for you if you can do it yourself.
Some of the effective communication skills are:
- Good listening
- Use less words
- Show interest
- Don’t be judgmental
- Be careful of non-verbal signs
- Be observant
- Manage your stress
- Speak clearly
Role of Barriers in Effective Communication and How to Address Them
Barriers in communication are obstructions that prevent message from reaching or distorting it so as it loses its meaning and intention. There are many barriers that can prevent effective communication like physical barriers (distance, noise in medium, etc.), physiological (hearing or speaking impairment), socio-cultural (cultural differences), semantic (signs and symbols) or language barriers. Similarly, other factors also act as a barrier, they are environment, stress, context, interference, emotional imbalance, lack of interest or focus, inconsistent body language, etc.
Barriers to effective communication can be avoided by using mediums that are right for the moment, using short sentences, organizing message before sending, practicing, being empathic, being precise, avoiding assumptions, avoiding environmental noise, etc.
Verbal and Non-verbal Communications
Effective communication includes both verbal and non-verbal communication. Your words do not show your personality more than your body language. The way you speak through signs is taken to be more genuine than your words. Facial expressions, hand movements, eye contact, posture, intonation, etc. is what is noticed. Similarly, that is what you should be watching out for when somebody else is speaking as it develops bonds.
Many people have difficulty starting conversation while some do not know how to continue after starting. It is normal to have social anxiety. Assertive communication does not come easy but you should learn to keep your side of the story stronger than that of other people. If what you say is does not get understood or influences people, then it is a failure.
Psycho-social and Environmental Factors in Effective Communication
Effective communication is the ability to express appropriately to another person’s social and cultural situations. When somebody communicates with another person but their social and cultural environment is different, message will not be interpreted properly as the person’s social reality is different. Context or environment is also an influence in effective communication as people should not laugh when someone else is crying. Stance should always complement the situation. Effective communication is when social, cultural or environmental factors are used to influence people and give them a clear message.
Ineffective Communication vs. Effective Communication
'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on. 'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least—at least I mean what I say—that's the same thing, you know.' 'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. 'You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'
-Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
In the above dialogue from Alice in Wonderland, you can easily differentiate effective and ineffective communication. If message gives different meaning than intended or expected, then the communication is ineffective. Saying what someone means and meaning what someone says us totally different. These kind of messages create confusion and misunderstanding.
Thus, learning how to communicate better is profoundly essential in every person’s life.