There are different forms of communication: verbal and nonverbal communication, written communication…
In this article we will be focusing on the fastest means of communication—verbal and nonverbal communication.
For the purpose of this article, let me define verbal and nonverbal communication as the passing on of information, ideas, concerns, fears and emotion from a person to another via words or action.
Let me state, for the record, that until there is absolute comprehension, then communication is incomplete.
Many of us can speak but only few of us know how to communicate effectively. This means that there are some strategies and techniques for effective communication.
In this article, we will be looking at:
- How to be a good listener.
- How to acquire better verbal communication skills.
- Dos and don’ts during communication.
Communicate with an open mind.
One thing that some of us do even before a communication or a dialogue ensues is to zero our mind against welcoming any opinion or idea that is different from ours. When that is the case, how can there be communication at all let alone an effective one?
The ears, mind and mouth are some of the components of verbal communication while the body is the tool for nonverbal communication; and for there to be comprehension, they components must work coordinately. So when the ear is open but the mind is shut, then there will be a communication breach and finally a comprehension breach and like I said, unless there is absolute comprehension then nothing has been communicated at all.
For this reason, it is therefore imperative that we keep an open mind—be willing to accept new ideas or opinions during communication—even if they are in conflict with ours.
You should understand that a difference in opinion is not a rejection of your opinion and hence should not be taken personally.
During a conversation, you ought to be willing to make the switch when a better idea surfaces.
Learn how to respectfully disagree .
One of the aspects of communication is dialogue or argument. As we differ as humans so does our paradigms.
During an argument, you should understand that what the other person is trying to do is pass on their own opinions which they are entitled to. So if you must disagree with, then do it with respect for the other person’s feelings.
Of course you can disagree with others without being disagreeable yourself. By the last sentence I mean you can air your different opinions and at the same time being nice, sensitive and respectful.
A nonobservance of this simple ethic is the reason why some conversations end in violence or deadlock.
Try To Understand the mood of the communicator.
When someone who is in an emotional state tries to communicate with you, what they are trying to do is project their feelings on to you. How you respond to the people depends on how you understand them. So in order for you to respond appropriately to someone in that state of mind, you must first understand them.
In order for you to do that, you have to try and decipher the facial expression of the communicator and the underlying message that the tone of their voice conveys. By so doing, you will better understand the mood that the communicator is in and then try respond accordingly.
Listen, listen and listen.
There are three ways human beings listen:
- Listening with nonchalance.
- Listening with a divided attention.
- Listening patiently.
Of course the third way of listening is the most appropriate. No matter the topic, listening patiently calms your nerves and equips you for the right response.
It is true that the tendency to become restless and impatient is almost inevitable especially when the topic being discussed is of little or no interest to you, but defying the urge to rudely interrupt or walk away is a character ethic you will be proud you exercised when the conversation ends.
When somebody speaks, they try to introduce a new idea with each sentence. Listening patiently helps you to see these ideas and when you do, you might just discover the silver lining– get the gist of the matter– and your interest might just be aroused.
Observe the communication flow.
When somebody is speaking and you are trying to rush them, it sends the message that you are not interested in whatever they have to say.
Every communication session has a rate at which it is occurring. Don’t try to stampede or impede it, just try to go with the flow.
During every verbal communication there is a time to listen and a time to speak up. It is unorthodox to be the only one speaking or the only one listening unless you don’t mind looking weird.
Say the right things at the right time. Show concern genuinely. Practice empathy.
Understand that sometime hope is the only thing a person has got, so don’t deprive them of it by being so judgmental or “realistic”.
Be an active listener.
There are two types of listening: active listening and inactive listening.
Inactive listening is when somebody sits through a communication session, looking at the communicator, not saying a word and obviously very distant.
Active listening on the other hand occurs when a person sits through a communication session, not talking with their mouth but allowing their facial expression do the talking for them.
The later is the appropriate way to listen during a communication session. You should try to be as present as possible even if you are not talking.
There are many nonverbal ways to engage during a verbal conversation. One of those ways is by making eye contact and appropriate hand gestures. Making eye contact with people makes the flow more natural and relaxing especially for the communicator because it makes them know that they have the attention of the listener.
Comprehension, comprehension, comprehension.
There are different factors that impairs comprehension, they are:
- Disparity in language.
- Lack of mutual interest.
There are three types of language:
- Spoken language.
- Body language.
- Sign language.
Sometimes we are tempted to try and communicate verbally with ambiguous words. There is nothing wrong with that if we are talking to people on the same grammatical frequency as us.
However, there is everything wrong with it if you are doing it just to show off your incredible familiarity with the dictionary, without taking cognizance of absolute comprehension.
Talking to somebody with strange words is like taking a person out of town without telling them where you both are headed. Of course that person may go with you but will not be comfortable throughout that journey. And you on the other hand will not enjoy that company.
Remember that communication is complete when there is an appropriate response. But how can that be when one does not understand what was being said?
Another thing that can impair comprehension is the tone of voice of the communicator.
When you are talking to somebody, that person is listening to two things: The words you are saying and the tone of your voice.
For there to be absolute comprehension the two must be in tune with each other.
For example, when a communicator is speaking with the wrong tone of voice, it brings a disconnection between the communicator and the listener even if the words are good.
Also when the communicator is using obscenities, it makes the listener uncomfortable and that discomfort impairs comprehension.
Sign and body languages:
Sign language is not restricted to only those with speaking or hearing disabilities.
Every one of us can communicate with signs, but we just have to make sure that they person the sign is for is familiar with it, else, there will be no comprehension.
Only people with good understanding of one another should communicate with either body or sign languages. For instance, if I don’t understand what the unusual blinking of your eyes is telling me then how can I respond appropriately?
Both body and sign languages require a lot of mastery before effective communication can be achieved with it. This is why it is not very popular.
Lack of mutual interest:
For people to stay connected during a verbal communication, the topic should be of mutual interest. But even when the topic is not of mutual interest, effective communication can still be achieved.
Look at it this way:
The two parts of communication are opinion/idea contribution and opinion/idea reception.
Opinion/idea contribution can come from all the parties involved in the conversation if the topic being discussed is of interest to all. But when the interest is not mutual then the conversation can be divided into the opinion/idea contributors and the opinion/idea receptors.
So when you find yourself in the middle of a discussion where the topic is of little or no interest to you, instead of shutting down the communication, try retiring to the passenger’s seat and enjoy the ride. By that I mean allow you to be schooled on the topic, hence, becoming the opinion/idea receptor. That way, the communication can be said to be effective because there is absolute comprehension. This is the part during a conversation where patience comes in quite handy.
Effective communication creates bonds and helps mend broken ones. This is why the importance of effective communication skills cannot be over emphasized.
Learning to communicate better with other human beings and your environment as a whole is the best way to live a happier and more meaningful life.
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