Communication Skills

Polly Fearnehough

Effective Communication

General Communication

General communication can be classed as spoken or verbal communication, often occurring face to face; over the telephone; radio; television, etc. This type of communication can be effective if all parties are following the basic rules of etiquette; this includes; courteous patience, listening to each party's point of view and assuring they have finished what they needed to say without being interrupted; simplifying your answer if participants do not understand; and basic listening skills.

If you have effective listening skills, general communication will be easier to understand; effective listening skills gives you the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages during the communication process. If a party isn't listening to what is being said, messages can easily be misunderstand; thus communication breaking down. Listening is not the same as hearing - to hear something you just hear the sounds, but listening requires focus. Listening allows you to process what has been said and develop your answer from there.

Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication takes part in effective communication; it portrays the information or message conveyed through your body language, facial expressions, tone and pitch of voice, etc. Interpersonal communication can also express what you mean or have heard. For example; a party may nod their head vigorously when saying "yes", to emphasise that they agree with the other party; but a loss of facial expression and a low tone and pitch of the voice may give off the expression you have lost interest, or do not agree.

Interpersonal communication can also regulate the flow of communication, for example; by signalling a party that they have finished speaking, or wish to say something by raising their hand. Interpersonal communication can also be used effectively if you can recognise the party's interpersonal communication too. For example; if you stated your opinion or point of view, and people shook their heads, this would signify that they disagree or have lost interest.

Written Communication

Written communication often occurs through; letters, emails, online chat, or even your CV. Written communication can be effective by ensuring; your message is clear and well structured, the point you are trying to make should not be prolonged, ensuring grammar, punctuation and spelling is correct, and the tone of the writing is correct. For example; your CV should be structured professionally and get straight to the point. It is found that employers do not often read CV's that are more than 2 to 3 pages long, so points should be stated clearly and quickly. Grammar, punctuation and spelling should be perfect, it is an essential skill needed for any job. The tone of the writing must be formal, to ensure you are coming across as a professional person.

However, if a person was to write an email to their friend; this could be done by using informal language, and often slang in which both parties understand (although slang varies in different regions); grammar, punctuation and spelling is not immensely important as friends are found to speak with text talk - e.g. "you" is said by using the letter "U"; friends also use emoticons to express how they are feeling or represent the answer to something that has been said - e.g. a person who is sad would represent this by using ":(", and a happy person would use ":)".

Barriers to Effective Communication

General Communication

There are many barriers to effective general communication , for example; the use of jargon, taboo language, the topic of discussions, general differences in perception and viewpoint, lack of time for the discussion, an environment barrier, language differences and cultural differences, etc.

The use of jargon throughout a discussion can be hard to understand if you don't particularly understand the subject itself, for example; if the IT department had a meeting with the head director at Pyus Pyxidus to discuss how they can make their network safer and they continuously used jargon throughout the discussion, it would confuse the head director and could potentially lead to him/her being frustrated or uninterested in the conversation. A way to overcome this barrier would be to avoid using any jargon, but where it is needed the IT department could provide a brief explanation, verbally or using diagrams. Another reason to avoid using jargon you're familiar with it because these words can become "Buzzwords". A buzzword is essentially another word for the jargon you use, but it often comes with a different meaning. For example; a person could say "IoT" during a discussion, which stands for "Internet of Things", however this could confuse other parties and they could potentially think it is technical jargon, when "Internet" could have originally been said.

Interpersonal Communication

There are many barriers to effective interpersonal communication, for example; physical disabilities such as hearing problems or speech difficulties, getting distracted, not listening or understanding, getting defensive, getting emotional, etc.

If someone has a physical disability, i.e. hearing problems or speech difficulties, and they are participating in a discussion, it will be increasingly harder for them to understand what is being discussed. They may not be able to hear what is going on clearly, or not be able to give a response that everyone can understand. There is numerous ways to overcome this problem; face the hearing impaired person directly and ensure you're in good light, they may be able to lip read; speak clearly, slowly, distinctly but not in a patronising way, shouting distorts the sound of speech and makes it harder for the person to understand; avoid talking rapidly or using sentences that are too complex; ensure your mouth is not covered whilst speaking; try to minimise the noise surrounding. For an individual with a speech difficulty, you must ensure; you allow the individual to finish their sentence and do not interrupt them, this can be discouraging; try to minimise the noise surrounding; be honest if you do not understand what is being said so it can be repeated; ask questions that require gestures as opposed to long answers; and a traditional way of doing so is asking the individual to write down what they would like to see, or even getting an interpreter.

Written Communication

There are many barriers to effective written communication, for example; dyslexia makes it harder for a party to have correct spelling, punctuation and grammar; the use of emoticons when it is not appropriate, the lack of grammar can often give off the wrong tone, topic of the correspondence, format, etc.

When written communication is taking place, it is important to ensure that you stay on the relevant topic; this way the conversation will flow and answers will be direct. It is important to stay on topic, otherwise the recipient can come to many conclusions, for example; they may think you have lost interest, they may think you were not listening in the first place, or they may think you are being rude. For example; if your manager emailed you asking you what your workload is like for the week as they have an important task for you, and you responded - "I have several meetings, which will be held with Example Business; I think this is a great opportunity" etc. - although this is a good response to hear, as it is a business opportunity, it was slightly avoiding the question. This could potentially raise suspicions, i.e. you are not doing work, or you are trying to avoid getting work from your manager, etc. It is ideal to stay on topic and get straight to the point, always be honest.