Unlocking the Art of Effective Communication
Communication skills are used every day and across multiple occasions. When we are talking to a close friend, parent, teacher, or coworker, communication is an essential part of being human and having relationships. Communication is a way to deliver information from one place to another. Most people think of verbal communication or using one’s voice to convey a message to another person; however, there are other forms of communication such as written communication (e.g. texts, books, websites, articles, etc.), visual communication (e.g. images, social media posts, charts, graphs, and maps), and nonverbal communication (e.g. body language, eye contact, facial expressions, etc.).
Why Does Effective Communication Matter?
Effective communication skills are useful in all aspects of a person’s social and professional life. Learning effective communication may take time, but once mastered, it can improve personal relationships by reducing conflict and promoting understanding. Communication is a two-way process, however, and it is not the same as announcing information, requiring both a “sender” and a “receiver.” Thus, effective communication utilizes both speaking and listening to develop a shared understanding of the information exchange.
How to Improve Communication Skills?
There are a few ways to improve one’s communication skills. First, one should be aware of their audience and setting. For example, your communication skills will differ from situation to situation, from giving a class presentation to talking with a friend or asking your teacher a question. Knowing your audience as a foundation for how you will communicate is key to keeping them naturally engaged. In addition, clear and concise words will allow the receiver to easily retain the information.
Positive, open body language is necessary to improve one’s effective communication skills. Eye contact, head nods, and behavior mirroring are great indicators of active listening. It shows interest in the received information. Moreover, providing other forms of communication such as images, videos, sounds, graphs, and charts are different modalities in digesting information.
Online communication is a frequent challenge in today’s digital age. This includes text messages, emails, online chat rooms, Facetime, and Zoom or online meetings — the latter popularized as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in both the workplace and schools. Adjusting to digital communication can be difficult and requires you to be aware of other factors such as time limit, mindfulness of others, and responsiveness of others. Limiting time during online meetings and being mindful of your audience can improve information retention. Most, if not all, nonverbal communication can be lost when communicating digitally. Do not be afraid of stating a summary of the meeting or encourage the asking of questions. As the receiver, it’s important to respond. Remember, effective communication is a two-way street, and since nonverbal communication is limited, a quick acknowledgment will let the sender know you’re listening.
Effective communication is fundamental to successful interactions, relationships, and connections in both personal and professional life. It promotes understanding, reduces conflicts, and helps individuals and organizations achieve their goals more efficiently.
Author: Maerie Morales