Communication Skills

Effective Communication

General Communication

Communication has been around as long as humans have walked the Earth and probably for millions of years before that. Almost everything we do contributes to the way we communicate with people. Even things you wouldn't notice will affect the way you communicate with people, a person with very closed in body language will come across as shy, but if that same person opened themselves up, spoke more clearly and used hand gestures would immediately come across as a more confident person.

Learning to be an effective communicator and learning good communication skills is one of the key steps in firstly, getting a job and secondly, keeping the job and advancing within your company.

An effective communicator will essentially be able to tell anyone what to do and they will do it, this is why sales people always seem so confident and it's why the products sell. Moving this into business, if you can make yourself seem so confident in your ideas when you're pitching it to a client or to a board of directors, they are a lot more likely to pick up on your idea.

Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is communication in a way that uses more than words, when looking at interpersonal communication you are also looking at messages conveyed through tone of voice, body language and facial expressions.

For example, in the growing digital world a lot of people have often mistaken a text they have received to be a negative text, where the person may have intended it in an entirely different way, the perception of the text would change entirely if tone of voice or facial expressions could be heard and seen respectively. Interpersonal communication will allow the receiver of the message to get a better insight and receive additional information from the message.

Interpersonal communication skills are very important for someone trying to make themselves more employable. In order to make an impression at an interview you need to stand out, and being a good interpersonal communicator can help with this. Confidence in your voice and body language can make you come across very well in an interview

Context is another factor for interpersonal communication, as the context you are in can change the content of the message. For example, you wouldn't talk about the same things in public as you might to your parents at home. The ability to recognise your context and change your way of speaking is an important communication skill. Similarly learning how different people like to be spoken to is another invaluable skill, you might speak softly and have very welcoming body language to your best friend. But to your work colleagues you may speak louder, with more expression in your voice and use more gestures, it is knowing how to speak to different people can make someone a good communicator.

Written Communication

Written communication is the method of communication we probably see the most. Text is everywhere, there is always information to be read, texts to be sent, millions of emails are sent and received every single day.

Written communication skills are some of the most important skills for someone trying to get a job. For example, in your CV you are trying to communicate to a potential employer that you are the perfect candidate for the job, and to do this effectively you need to have the skills to list your skills, abilities and experience in such a manner that makes you the most employable.

Another way in which written communication skills are effective in the workplace would be when constructing emails to send to potential clients or other colleagues. Just like with interpersonal communication, context is key. When sending emails to clients you write professionally, whereas, emailing your long time friend might be more laid back and casual, knowing the difference between the two is what makes an effective communicator.

Obviously written communication has been around for thousands of years and can, like in the case of poems and story books, play with peoples emotions, so someone with good written communication skills can be an effective negogiator or effective when bringing new clients to the business.

Barriers to Effective Communication

General Communication

A barrier to general communication is the fact that the person listening to/ reading your message either doesn't care or doesn't hold the same importance/opinion as you. If you are speaking to someone and they aren't interested then they aren't going to take in all of the information that you are telling them.

Similarly if that person doesn't necessarily hold the same opinion on a subject as you do, then again, they won't be as affected by your message. An obvious example is when you are walking down the street and someone tries to give you a flyer. If it's for something you aren't interested in, then you just keep walking, which is what 90% of people probably do because the message just doesn't apply to them.

A way to overcome this barrier is with effective communication skills. If you can make it sound like you're genuinely interested in what you're talking about then generally you will make others more interested. It can be more difficult to do this with people that don't have the same opinion as you but again it is possible if you have the right skills, if you seem confident in your ideas and your body language is strong then you can open people up to your ideas.

Interpersonal Communication

A barrier to interpersonal communication could be someone who is shy by nature or maybe even has a social disorder stopping them from expressing themselves in a way that they may intend in their mind.

This can be a problem if you are at a job interview and you are expected to come across as outgoing and professional. If you are shy then you might struggle to do this as you might have trouble being yourself in front of people you don't know, especially with the added stress of it being a job interview.

Similarly, if you have a social disorder preventing you from expressing yourself fully, you might find yourself struggling to find a job or even keeping friendships.

Ways to overcome this barrier or at least to reduce the effects of the barriers would be to train yourself to pretend to be a confident person, in doing this you may find that you naturally become more confident and outgoing. Another great way of overcoming social anxiety or shyness would be to just throw yourself into positions where you are forced to communicate with strangers or to speak in front of people.

This will of course be uncomfortable at first but with time you will learn to be come more comfortable in your own skin and in turn learn to be more effective at communicating your point.

Written Communication

A barrier with written communication could be the meaning or the topic of the letter/email. If you write about something that someone isn't interested in or if they don't understand your message, whether is be because of the technical jargon or if they can't see your point in writing the message, then they won't be particularly interested.

You can overcome someone not being interested in your piece of text by maybe making it shorter and more to the point, or perhaps break it down in subsections so they only have to read the pieces that are relevant to them. If they don't understand the message you have sent to them then maybe think about writing it in more of a less professional manner so that they can understand the technicalities a little better, or perhaps include little definitions of the more technical words in the text.

If you are writing and someone doesn't understand how it applies to them then maybe you have made the message too specific and they don't see the point of reading it. If this is the problem then perhaps making the message a bit more broad would help people see your point more effectively.