Communication skills & barriers
Author: Harry Calder
When referring to an individuals general communication skills, it will be looking at the ways in which communication takes place and the awareness that is taken to the audience and how effectively the communication takes place.
As part of communicating with another individual or groups of individuals, you will need to be aware of the different cultures that people have, and how that will effect the ways in which they communicate. As a speaker, you will need to be aware of the different expectations that different individuals will have of you as a speaker and the manner in which you speak. In order to be an effective communicator, you will need to understand that not all individuals communicate in the same manner and adapt the way in which you communicate in order to meet these specific needs. As not all communication is based around speaking, you shall also need to be aware of how you write and how you present yourself to the other individual, including body actions. In certain situations, certain hand gestures may not be suitable for certain cultures, due to different meanings been placed on them in different cultures.
When you are making communications, the communications will not always be aimed at the same audience, where different individuals will be the recipient of the communication that is given. Due to the audience been different, the manner of speaking will need to be adapted. As different individuals will understand information better if it is presented in a different format, i.e visually or spoken, the presentation style of the communication should be adapted to suit the audience in order to ensure that they remain engaged. When referring to audience, it is not only about who is been communicated to, but also the amount of people who are been communicated to, where different methods will be more applicable, such as presentations been a useful way to communicate to larger groups.
The interpersonal skills during communication will be in reference to how the communication is presented to the recipient and how it comes across to them.
During communication that takes place, there will be periods of time that one person will be controlling the flow of the conversation, having a greater input into the actual content that is been stated during the conversation. However, whilst it may be more applicable for the other person to be listening, it is still important that cues are given so that the speaker understands that the other person is listening. This will involve making small actions, such as nodding, or giving quick summaries of what has been communicated. Alongside ensuring that the speaker understands that you are listening, it can help to reinforce their confidence in speaking.
As part of communication, two way communication is an essential part in ensuring that information is transferred back and forth. In order to have this occur, questions will be employed to allow for information to be gathered by both parties. A user can choose to ask an open question, that will allow for a more extended answer with more detail. A user can also choose to ask a closed question if they want to get a simple yes or no answer, which can be useful for obtaining bulk data. Finally, a user can ask a direct question, where a specific answer will be given to the question, opposed to a simple yes or no.
Written Communication Skills
Since communication is not focused alone on the concept of speaking, it is important that an individual is able to communicate effectively through the form of writing.
Grammar and Spelling
When communicating through the form of writing, in order to maintain a professional manner it is vital that grammar and spelling are kept to a consistent high quality. It is important that it is kept this way so that the recipient is able to understand the information that is been transferred. When in a professional working environment, this is an element that needs to be focused on, not only to allow for information to be clear, but also to help maintain the reputation of the business that is been represented.
When listening to another individual during communication there can often be a great volume of information that needs to be taken in. Due to there been a bulk amount of information, it can be a good idea to make notes that can be referenced to at a later date. These will serve as a memory jogger for you at a later date when referring back to the information, to help you remember everything that had been discussed. This will mainly be useful during events such as presentations where a lot is discussed, with the information been important to remember later on.
Barriers to Effective Communication
Potential barrier - Culture
When trying to make communication with another individual, the other individual who is been communicated to is not always going to be from the same culture as ones own self. Due to the lack of understanding of certain cultures, it may be difficult for information to be transferred between the individuals due to disagreements in the way that communication takes place. With a lack of sensitivity to other cultures, it is possible that there will be clashes between the cultures of different individuals.
Overcoming the Barrier
One of the simplest ways to overcome the barrier of culture is to identify the different types of cultures that people can be expected to have, and to educate ones self on the attributes of the culture. By having an understanding of what is different about each culture, communication should be able to occur in a more respectful manner, with mutual understanding for both parties.
Sometimes with this barrier, one individual may not even be aware that a problem is occurring, not understanding that they are causing offence to another culture. Due to this, one solution to the barrier is to make the other person aware that they are causing offence to yourself or another individual. If the other individual becomes aware that they are causing a problem, it may be simply resolved with an apology and a change to the way that they communicate in the future.
Due to the nature of this barrier, the conclusion is that it can be overcome simply by making others aware of any issues, making use of communication to inform them of this.
Interpersonal Skill Barriers
Potential Barrier - Poor Communication
When making communication with another, sometimes you will find that communication is not always going to be a simple process. In some cases, one member of the communication may not participate much, or the channels of communication used are not very effective.
Overcoming the Barrier
When making use of communication, different individuals will behave in a different way during the communication process. Sometimes, certain individuals may not participate much in the conversation due to a lack of confidence in themselves or the topic. Due to this, one way to overcome the barrier can be to make greater use of questions, more specifically open questions. By making use of open questions, it can encourage a greater response from another individual, encouraging them to have a greater input on the communication.
As sometimes the barrier will not arise because of the content that is been communicated, but because of the channels used, one of the solutions that can be put in place is to have an agreed method of communication that everyone is comfortable with. This should be aimed to be kept consistent so that the method of communication remains the same for everyone throughout an organisation. This can also help to leave a trail of communication in case it needs to be referenced to a later date.
Written Communication Barriers
Potential Barrier - Languages
Naturally, when making communications with other individuals, not everyone is going to be speaking the same language. Sometimes, it is not around speaking a different language, but the phrases and jargon that certain areas use that aren't recognised elsewhere.
Overcoming the Barrier
When speaking to individuals who are outside of an organisation, technical jargon should be avoided, with language been kept to a simple level. The purpose of doing this is so that the recipient is able to understand everything that is been communicated to them. If jargon is used, one individual may not understand the information that is been present to them, and may be misinterpreted, which can cause problems in performance later on.
In other cases where a persons native language is not the same as other individuals, it may be beneficial to keep the language to a simplistic level. This is so that everyone is able to understand what is been discussed, allowing for all parties to have a clear understanding of what is been communicated.
In order to ensure that the communication is clear, if a written format is been used, there should be guidelines on the format that is been used, so that the communication is formed around a consistent format, allowing all individuals to understand.