Guide to communication skills
General communication is the broad way of communicating with other people regardless of the form of communication such as written or spoken. Before you can communicate you must have an audience that audience will directly affect the way you approach communicating with them. You will most likely change the way in which you communicate by, for example, changing the words you use, your sentence structure and sometimes even punctuation.
The factors that affect how you are going to communicate to your audience may include age, cultural background and physical disabilities/hindrances such as being partially deaf. You also want to consider how the way communicate will affect you audience's level of attention or interest.
For written communication the use of images and charts can be effective for engaging your audience as it can aid getting your message across. I've your message is very text/word heavy then images and diagrams also help break it up which will help the audience to not get fatigued with words. For spoken communication, the way you express your message though sentence length, gaps between sentences and tone. Having a variety of these will make your communicating more dynamic and therefore more engaging. In face-to-face situations there are a number of ways you can interest your audience. You could use a computer presentation, use objects as visual aids and use music and video as well.
Two or more people are required for communication to take place. One person is conveying a message while the other(s) is trying to absorb the information through the use of their sight and hearing. How you communicate your message is very important and there are many different aspects that affect it.
Verbal communication is standard world wide however there are some people who lack the ability to speak or hear. Sign language is a great way to have face-to-face communication without the use of written words. When we do use our voice we often use it differently depending on our emotion. Here are some examples:
- A loud voice can imply frustration or anger
- A quitter voice can imply sadness or fear
Body language can also be used for communication:
'Yes' or 'I agree' are both positive language responses. Smile or nodding are body language signs that really let your audience know that you have a stronger meaning to you word. For example smiling when responding with 'yes' is showing you are willingly agreeing.
Other behaviour such as cutting in can also convey what someone is thinking without having to say it. Cutting in could mean someone is full of enthusiasm to discuss or it could mean they're strongly disagreeing. Here are some other body language examples:
- Folded arms can imply impatience or indifference
- Fast powerful hand or arm movements could imply anger
Written communication is differs quite a lot from other forms of communication. Written communication includes letters, Email, fax, text etc. To have good written communication you need to have good knowledge and understanding of spelling and grammar. Unlike interpersonal communication you can't use the same visual cues such as body language or verbal cues such as tone of voice. There are however other techniques you can use in written communication to communicate your message effectively.
Emoticons can be used to express someone's mood and feelings. They're often used in text messages and social media. However they are not used in professional and serious communication environments as it would be thought as unprofessional.
Structure is important to an audience's understanding. The content of your message should be presented in a logical order. Use of subject lines, headers and bullet points organise your message so they can be better interpreted by the receiver. It will lead to less confusion and they are less likely to need to read over the message again.
Barriers to Effective Communication
A potential barrier to general communication could be the receiver of the information being partially deaf. The receiver being partially deaf introduces a few problems that the communicator should try to overcome.
For example, the receiver will not/may have difficulty detecting the different levels at which the speaker is using. They will not be able to pick up on the differences in their tone of voice easily. To overcome this the speaker can channel less energy from their voice to their body language instead. Using good and meaning full body language will help the receiver interpret the information easier. To have more meaningful body language they could use their facial expressions and hand/arm gestures more effectively to express ideas.
Another way the speaker could compensate is to use less of different tones of voice but instead keep a fairly constant loud tone of voice so that the receiver has a much easier time hearing everything the speaker has to say.
With interpersonal communication, having a monotone voice which doesn't vary in volume or tone can be a big problem. Speaking with a voice that is not very dynamic creates problems with the audience's understanding and engagement in what you're saying. People may become bored as someone voice sounds the same which will then affect how much the can concentrate and absorb the information you are communicating.
To avoid this problem the speaker should try and have more varied speech. They should use a range of tones to make emphasis on certain points, convey emotion, have a less boring voice. They can use of short and longer sentences also helps to make speech have more variety.
Clarity is very important with written communication. In order to avoid confusing your reader you must present your message in a clear and organised manner. One problem with organisation could be your punctuation. A lack of paragraphing will not only make it visually more difficult for the reader to read as they may get lost at various points whilst reading it. With out the paragraph break they may also not know where to take short break to absorb the information they just read. They may read the whole block of text in one and it will be too much information to go in at once.
The use of bullet points to organise lists is also effective. If it's a long list and they need to remember a certain point they can remember visually where it is in the list which makes it easier to find than having to read a line or paragraph of list items instead.
Finally, using headers is also important. Like bullet points it can be a visual aid for where information is. It also helps the reader prepare and know what they are about to read about.