The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills you can possess. It can help you in your career, your relationships, and your personal life. In this article, we'll discuss the basics of communication and give you some tips on how to improve your communication skills.
What is communication?
Communication is the process of conveying insights from one person to another, or between groups, and the back-and-forth exchange of information between people. In other words, communication is the act of passing information from one person to another.
Components of communication
There are three main components to communication: sender, receiver, and message. The sender is the person who is communicating; the receiver is the person who is being communicated to; and the message is the content of the communication. The content of the communication is the information that is shared with others in the form of verbal, written, or nonverbal messages.
Types of communication
There are two forms of communication: intentional and unintentional.
Intentional communication is when a person consciously tries to convey information to another. For example, when a person says, “Hi, I’m Brian” to a stranger, he is intentionally communicating that he is Brian. Intentional communication is highly valued.
Unintentional communication is when a person communicates without thinking. One example is when you cross your arms in front of you. This is a nonverbal way of interrupting someone's speech and signaling to them that you don't care what they have to say. It's important to think before you communicate — both verbally and nonverbally — so you don't say or do something you don't mean.
What is effective communication?
Exchanging information isn't the only way to communicate effectively. It's important to understand the motives and emotions that underlie the information. You must be able to speak clearly and listen carefully in order to fully understand what is being said and to make the other person feel heard and understood.
Effective communication seems like something that should come naturally. However, when we try to communicate with others without thinking, something might go wrong. When we say one thing and the other person hears another meaning, this can result in miscommunication, annoyance, and confrontations. Your relationships at home, at school, and at work may suffer as a result.
Building solid relationships requires effective communication. For married couples, the ability to communicate more effectively is closely tied to how happy they are in their marriage. It has also been established that those who communicate well with others in the workplace are more successful in their careers. The capacity to communicate effectively can be a key indicator of your career success, your financial security, and your resistance to stress and anxiety.
Having effective communication with ourselves impacts our emotional state. Communication is not only important for our interactions with others, but also for our interactions with ourselves. The ability to recognize our strengths and weaknesses is called an intrapersonal skill. Because they involve what's inside one's head, intrapersonal skills are a form of self-communication.
You need intrapersonal skills to manage emotions, cope with challenges, and help you build and maintain relationships with others. We're more likely to focus, set, and reach our goals when we have strong intrapersonal skills.
How do we communicate more effectively?
While the goal of communication is to spread a message or an idea, we frequently fall short of doing so. What do we mean when we speak of effective communication, though? Well, it's the capacity for clear and understandable communication, which is why it's important to try and reduce the likelihood of any misunderstandings.
Here are some ways to ensure good communication, whether you are the sender or the receiver:
Be an attentive listener
Your choice of communication style is important. But just as important, if not more so, is how well you pay attention, listen closely, and take in what the speaker is saying. The purpose of active listening is to make sure you receive the speaker's entire message, not just the words they are saying. Another distinction between being an engaged listener and passively taking in what the other person is saying is that the former requires active participation. Often, our gestures and facial expressions can also communicate our message.
Here are some pointers for active listening:
- Dedicate your complete and undivided attention to the speaker
- Remove all distractions, opinions, and rebuttals from your thoughts
- Resist the need to speak up and share your own opinions
- Use open-minded, empathetic body language to convey to the speaker that you are paying attention
- When responding, repeat or paraphrase what you heard
- Ask open-ended questions to get further details
One of the goals of communication is to express oneself. You may improve your communication and your decision-making by speaking up for yourself and being assertive. Being assertive entails expressing your needs and wants honestly and openly, while also standing up for yourself and others. It DOES NOT imply being antagonistic, confrontational, or demanding. Understanding the other person is always the key to effective communication; it's never about winning a debate or imposing your viewpoint on others.
Those who can express themselves successfully don't possess a special DNA; instead, they practice the following:
- Preparing thoughts in advance
- Not repeating and not over-explaining
- Talking in bullet points
- Pausing occasionally as needed
- Not using too many details; instead, start with the main idea
- Being relaxed
- Using a friendly but authoritative voice (not aggressive)
Take note of nonverbal cues
We rarely just talk to each other when we communicate. Most of the time, we communicate through our body language as well, which includes gestures, breathing, facial expressions, voice tones, eye contact, and posture. Because of this, in order to convey our message as effectively as possible, we must learn to recognize all of these nonverbal cues and how to apply them appropriately. Because everyone wants to interact with someone who genuinely listens, cares, and understands, learning to read and use body language will make connecting and building relationships with others easier.
When someone is speaking, pay close attention to their body language. You can understand what someone is really saying by understanding what they're not saying.
Follow these examples when paying attention to nonverbal signals:
- When someone leans toward you, you may want to lean toward them
- When someone hugs you, you probably want to hug them back
- When someone stands in front of you, you likely want to move out of the way
- When someone's eyes are downcast, their shoulders are slumped, their lips are pursed, their hands are in fists, or they seem nervous, they are probably not sure of what they’re saying
- When someone is tense and their voice is shaking, it's likely because they're experiencing something uncomfortable
- When someone is laughing, it's a sign that they're happy and relaxed
- When someone has one eyebrow raised, it may mean that they're irritated or angry
Control your feelings
We far too frequently let our feelings control the conversation when we bring up a delicate subject. Sometimes this causes us to lose sight of the entire purpose of the conversation, which can put us in an awkward position where we say things we later come to regret. Strong emotions like love and stress can easily impair our ability to communicate clearly during interactions. In these circumstances, emotional management skills can assist us in regaining our composure so that we can interact with others without losing our cool.
Emotional intelligence serves as the foundation for communication. To put it simply, you can't properly connect with others until you can recognize and comprehend your own emotions. If you're aware of your own emotions and the actions they provoke, you can start to manage these feelings and behaviors. Active listening, maintaining an appropriate tone, and using good body language generally come effortlessly to those with a high level of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence includes more than just being able to recognize and control your own emotions. Empathy for others is another component which is also important for effective communication. A challenging conversation, for instance, can be made simpler by empathizing with the other person. While you might still need to break unpleasant news, showing that you understand their viewpoint and their feelings can go a long way toward mending fences or preventing misunderstandings.
Here are some strategies for communicating with greater emotional intelligence:
- Spend some time acknowledging the good things, but don't overlook the bad
- Learn to be objective with yourself
- Recognize your motivating factors
- Do not expect others to believe in you
- Be truthful
- Be ready to step outside of your comfort zone
- Be as approachable as you can
Choose your words carefully
Last but not least, the words we use to communicate can significantly affect how well our message is received by others. Use pronouns like “us” and “we” while speaking, for instance, if you're a team leader and want to communicate to your team that you're all in this together. They will begin to view themselves less as an individual employee and more as a member of the team in this way. If you know when and how to speak, words may be quite powerful.
Word choice has a big part in communication, and less is more when it comes to word choice. Clarity and conciseness are the keys to effective and persuasive communication, whether it be spoken or written.
To avoid miscommunication:
- Identify your audience and goals before communicating
- Make sure you include all relevant information. Carefully and thoroughly lay out what you want to say and why. Get rid of unnecessary information
- Keep your wording simple; flowery or needless phrases can take you away from your point
- While repetition could be required in some circumstances, make sure to use it sparingly Your audience will be more likely to hear your message if you repeat it, but too much repetition risks losing their attention
- Respond to sharp words in a calm manner when exchanging emails or other written correspondence
For relationships of all kinds to develop and flourish, effective communication is necessary, and doing so requires awareness and effort. It's beneficial to think about all the components necessary for effective communication. In reality, effective communication involves more listening than speaking.
If you need help with effective communication. Whether you’re struggling to listen well, communicate clearly or both, therapy may be helpful. Click the button below to to arrange a complimentary initial appointment.