Communication is the exchange of information or ideas between two, or more than two persons. It is a process in which we try to talk as clearly and accurately as we can, to convey our thoughts and intentions to the other person. If we talk about the corporate environment, whatever may be the size of an organization, nowadays it is very essential for the people to communicate efficiently and effectively.
Effective communication skills are the key to success in work, life and relationships. Without effective communication, message that one wants to deliver can turn into error or misunderstanding. In today’s highly competitive and technological environment, it has become increasingly vital to have effective communication skills. One of the most important ways to produce effective communication skills is to improve vocabulary by reading and writing more.
What we say or what we have said, does not determine that we have effective communication skills. The communication skills can be effective only if the person we are communicating with, gets the information in the same way what we actually want the receiver to receive. It is more of a spontaneous process rather than the formulaic. For example, if a person just delivers a speech without any dedication or motive, it will not be effective. On the other side if one has a planned way of communication and formulates his speech in an effective manner then it will be more efficient.
Areas where effective communication skills can make an impact
Verbal Communication Skills
This is one of the most important quality that must be honed by a communicator, especially in the area of job where, the person needs to communicate with the public. Precise verbal communication skills involve the content, that is neither too flowery nor too simple. The verbal skills must be such, that you should be very clear in what you are trying to say and there are no hurdles in the communication going on between the listener and speaker. The verbal communication skills must be very precise and accurate.
Non-Verbal Communication Skills
An easier, but a very important one. While listening to the person, your body language should convey to the speaker that you are able to understand well about what he is trying to say. It involves nodding of head, inclining towards the speaker, and showing an open body (arms uncrossed, shoulders back). Some of these actions are very effective while communicating. Through this, the speaker is affirmed, that the listener is listening to him in an effective way.
Written Communication Skills
Another important area in the field of communication that must be emphasized on is the written communication skills. These involve the grammar usage, spell check and a professional way of conveying information. This is one of the most important communication skill, since most entry level jobs requires good written communication skills. Any work requires written communication skills like making project proposals, functional document, project abstract, spreadsheets etc require very well written communication skills.
How to communicate effectively
As it is said that only an attentive listener can be a good speaker. In an effective communication process, listening is the foremost concern. Listening is effective only when the listener not only understands the words being conveyed to him, but also understands what the speaker feels about whatever he is speaking. Effective listening involves focusing completely on what the speaker is saying, avoiding to speak in - between, not seeming judgmental, showing interest in what the speaker is actually trying to say. Also , one must place himself in the other’s position and imagine if he was in the speaker’s place, how he would have felt in that circumstances. Thus, effective listening can ensure the speaker, that he is being heard and understood. It creates an environment where everyone feels safe and is ready to come up with the ideas, words of his choice and it saves time.
Contrary to the verbal communication, this step involves the wordless communication. Facial expressions, body movement, gestures, eye contact, tone of your voice, and posture communicate this. Communication can be effective, if we use an open body language, i.e. uncrossed arms, sitting at the edge of seat and making an eye contact with the speaker which makes him sure that you are listening to him. Body language can also be made use of to improve the verbal message.
For an example, while congratulating anyone on their success, you can simply give them a pat on their back. This sends out a message to the audience that you are a good communicator. So as to improve your non-verbal communication skills, one must observe, how different people communicate while speaking and listening. Take into count the culture, religion, gender and the emotional state of a person while communicating.
Stress can be a big hurdle in the path of effective communication. If a person is in stress, it is not possible to think appropriately or creatively. Stress, itself comes with various other barriers like social stress, emotional stress, corporate stress etc. You are neither able to understand what the speaker is saying nor to communicate effectively. So in order to ensure effective communication, firstly a person needs to be stress free. For this, recognize what is making you stressed, calm down for a moment and then start communicating. Only by this way, you can communicate in an efficient manner.
The way we communicate at home or at work, depends a lot on emotions. More than what you think, its important what you feel, as that will let you explain things or communicate in a much better way. The way you react emotionally, decides a lot about how you are communicating things to other people and how they understand your viewpoint. Emotional awareness lets you figure out what problem the other person is facing, staying positive on what you want to say and motivating others even when you do not like what they are saying. Thus, these are the ways by which a person can communicate with effective communication skills.
Barriers of effective communicationVarious barriers come in the way of communication and make it ineffective. Some of them are:
Culture Background and Bias
Dialect and regional differences are mostly found regional differences. Sometimes while communicating, we come across our experiences, cultures that may make communication good or even sour. These things up to an extent, changes the meaning of what we want to convey and something else is conveyed. It is then they become a hurdle in the process of communication.
Any kind of instrumental, ecological or environmental noises, paves an obstruction in the way of communication. For speaker and listener to understand each other, it is very important that there are no noise disturbances around.
Not listening to others and just saying what we say is right, poses a problem, as the other person may also no longer bother to whatever you say, because of the perception that you say always you are right. This leads to in-effective communication.
Mostly, we have our minds pre-convinced to what we want. Due to this, we tend to dismiss the person who is not talking clearly or precisely. We generally won't listen to those of low status and prefer the higher ones, just because of the conception that they know more. Moreover, not every person will draw same conclusion from set of information, so we must look to others perception as well.
Well, a common barrier in social and corporate environment. Some people feel that they may look stupid and caught out while talking in front of other people. It is then, they start doing strange things to ensure they ‘fit in’ the current area. These features are real and exist, so a conversation must not be forced so that people may not become uncomfortable.
It is not necessary every time, that only the facts are true. Sometimes the new ideas can also be of great use. Like in the educational institutes, the tests taken are to make sure that the students have knowledge of the subject. However, it is not necessary that only the tests can determine their knowledge. Some students are able to express their ideas by speaking more than by writing. So the way message is delivered, at times may become a hurdle in effective communication.
There can be environmental hindrances also. Any unusual sights, actions, attractive person, or bright decor etc. All these can become distractions, when there is communication going on between the speaker and listener.
While communicating, we assume that the other person may know some information or facts. By this, we deprive them of the useful information that may be unknown to them.
When in stress, we do not understand the things the way we do when we are not in stress. During this time, whatever we speak or understand is influenced by psychological factors such as our beliefs, values etc. We must take care of these obstructions, not coming our way while communicating with other person. Thus, in order to make effective communication, various things are to be kept in mind. Like speaker should give the listeners an impression that he is very much interested in speaking to them and cares about them, Which in turn will inculcate listener’s interest in the communication.
Effective Communication Skills for Speakers
Asking questions in between the communication process will let the listeners talk more about their interests and let the speaker know about their interests. This leads to a healthy communication. Another important factor can be the non-verbal communication, as the speaker must notice the posture, body language of the listeners and try to match his body language with that of the audience, so both are able to communicate well. One of the best ways to connect with the listeners is to tell them why you like, about what they say and attentively listening to whatever they say.
Giving an expression that you are the same, makes the listeners much more comfortable and they are able to communicate well. Another important aspect is, making the right amount of eye contact as it gives an impression to the listeners that you are effectively communicating and are trustworthy.
Encouraging people to speak more and come up with new ideas, especially if the listeners you are talking to are younger than you are. This gives them motivation to participate more efficiently in the communication. The speaker needs to have a bit more energy than the listeners do, which inspires them to be more energetic while communicating. A very important aspect can be the way you are saying the name of a person, as anyone is emotionally attached to his or her name. Saying it in a humble manner, will let them have a good impression of you and enhance their interest in the communication process. Now in a more informal way, an effective method to make communication much better, is to take relationship one-step further. For example, you can have conversation over a cup of coffee that would help both sides open up well with each other.
Last but not the least, for an effective communication; you definitely need to be a skilled communicator.
When you observe people from various lifestyles, especially the ones who are socially and corporately skilled, you will see that what they just do is effective listening and are just being true to their selves. This helps them to be more confident and communicate effectively with others. So, when you take time to hone good communication skills, you yourself open up to great career opportunities as well as increased self-confidence. In addition, you reach a level of mutual understanding and cooperation that helps you in attainment of your goals. Concluding, as Lee Iacocca said that, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your idea’s won’t get you anywhere” . Thus, an effective communication is vital in all spheres of life.