While communication is simply the flow of information from the first party (the sender) to the second party (the receiver) irrespective of whether the recipient has correctly understood the message or not, effective communication is the flow of information, in the same manner, the sender intends to do so. There's more to communication than just words. Communication skills, moreover, are the foundation of team building, innovation, interdependence, and shared responsibility. In contrast, when people fail to communicate clearly, it leads to lost opportunity.
There are many types of communication skills, many of which you've probably not even considered as a means of communication. Some examples are active listening, assertiveness, effective writing, time management, acceptance of constructive criticism, non-verbal communication, e-mail, and electronic conferencing.
1. Effective Writing:
"If people cannot write well, they cannot think well" – George Orwell
Writing isn't as easy as it looks. A lot of factors like the purpose, the audience, the style, the message are considered before even starting. The following guidelines can help one write effectively, with practice:
Before starting, a clear purpose for the writing needs to be determined. There should be a vision regarding what you want to deliver and the direction you want to go with your writing. At times, this step even helps you build over the information you already know. This process helps in the establishment of goals that you want to achieve with your writing.
Creating a Rough Draft
This is an essential step because creating a rough draft should be done after considering the audience you're supposed to interact with. It's like planning your writing with the creation of an outline.
Edit to Eliminate
A specific system needs to be followed for effective writing. For starters, limit your sentences to an average length of 15 to 20 words. Also, break long sentences into shorter sentences, eliminate unnecessary prefixes, and eliminate introductory phrases that do not convey additional meaning. Filter your draft ruthlessly and get rid of all possible meaningless jargon—Polish your work through as many redrafts as necessary.
Drop Stiff Formal Phrases
Make sure that your writing is free of the stiff, formal phrases that might make it look rigid and, at times, strict or harsh. Always keep it smooth and convincing as the tone of your writing leaves an impact on the reader.
Reduce the Number of Personal Pronouns
Personal pronouns are pronouns associated primarily with a particular grammatical person. I, you, he, she, they are a few examples. These should be omitted or avoided because these pronouns make writers seem less confident of their ideas and can even give the writing an informal tone.
Proofread Your Work
It's imperative to make sure that your work is error-free. Applications like Grammarly can be used for this purpose.
It should be ensured that whatever you write is clear, correct, coherent, concrete, complete, courteous, and concise. Practice writing daily; you can write about your day, a thing, a person, literally anything. This would help you develop writing as a habit.
2. Active Listening
The most frequently used communication skill is listening. Studies show that the average that on average, a professional earns about 40% of their income by listening, and executives earn up to 80% of their salaries by listening. Active listening is, however, the least developed communication skill in the communication toolbox.
The points one should keep in mind for the proper implementation of active listening are:
Indication of interest in the content of the speaker by continuously nodding or making listening sounds (saying yes/ understood)
Never interrupting the speaker
Paraphrasing and confirming what the speaker has spoken about
Making notes or writing down the critical points spoken.
Active listening can be practised by listening to podcasts and watching informative videos without subtitles. The development of the patience to listen to everyone in a way that you analyze and interpret at the same time is a skill. Don't listen to react; listen to understand.
3. Public Speaking
Speeches are made to have an impact, and they're made to inform, entertain, inspire, convince, and persuade. Any speech can accomplish all five of these goals, but it's necessary to only focus on one.
Every speech has an introduction to hook the audience and explain in brief the goal of the speech. The body, to explain everything and talk about the main points. And lastly, the conclusion, which includes the key takeaways of the speech. The following things can be done to sharpen this skill:
Rehearse the speech in from of the mirror
Spend equal time in preparing and practising the speech
Do not read the speech
Start the speech with a personal experience or a true story
Know your audience and prepare accordingly
Human communication is of three types: aggressive, passive, and assertive. While passive communicators are unable to express their opinions confidently, aggressive communicators are the ones who put down others, causing hurt or humiliation. Assertive communicators are communicators who can express their feelings and opinions directly and honestly. To become assertive, one must follow the ASA Model.
A: Address and analyze the situation or behaviour
S: Share your feelings or thoughts
A: Action to be hence taken needs to be spoken about
No matter what the situation is, to come out as a good communicator, the above model should be practised at all times.
5. Non-verbal communication
The face, eyes, hand gestures, and posture express what is going on inside of us. Each gives valuable clues to others (and to us) as to whether the words we say are consistent with what we are feeling. Being aware of our body language allows us to send a consistent message and be more aware of what others are subliminally conveying to us. Components of non-verbal communication are:
Eye contact is the first thing that people look for when they meet us for the first time. Good eye contact gives out a feeling of comfort and genuine warmth. Maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest in what the other has to say.
Getting the right posture can automatically boost the confidence of an individual. Next time you notice you're feeling a bit down, take a look at how you're standing or sitting. Chances are you'll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which in turn can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.
Arms give away clues about how open and receptive we are to everyone we meet and interact with, so keep your arms out to the side of your body or behind your back. This shows you are not scared to take on whatever comes your way, and you meet "full frontal" things. In general terms, the more outgoing you are as a person, the more you tend to use your arms with significant movements. The quieter you are, the less you move your arms away from your body. So, try to strike a natural balance and keep your arm movements balanced. Crossing your arms is a no, no in meetings or interviews, as it can be interpreted as passive-aggressive or closed to suggestions.
Your legs are the furthest point away from your brain; consequently, they're the most challenging bits of your body to control consciously. When we are nervous, stressed, or deceptive, our legs tend to move around more than usual. So best to keep them as still as possible in most situations, especially at interviews or work meetings.