A simple definition of communication is the way that we send messages to each other. Messages can be either conscious or subconscious, and we do not always know we are communicating.
We communicate by talking with each other, texting each other, sending letters or emails, facial expression, body positioning and other forms of communication.
There are many ways to communicate, and each person’s style is different…
You will win friends and influence people if you know how to communicate well.
Of course you have been using interpersonal communication and communicating with others, from the moment of birth.
An infant cries and thrashes around, communicates a need, and gets a result–food, a clean diaper, the comfort of being held by its mother. An infant does not have to ask “What is communication?” He just knows…
In many ways, you are like an infant. You use a combination of nonverbal communication and verbal communication. You think, speak and use your body to communicate both your thoughts and your feelings.
Interpersonal communication is when we communicate a message to another person. Sometimes this is verbal, sometimes written and sometimes we use non-verbal communication.
The person receiving the message interprets that message and decides on its meaning. Their understanding is based on the message, the words or body language used, and their previous experiences.
Even if ideas and feelings are appropriately and effectively shared, effective communication also needs an active listener. It takes two to tango, when you are involved in interpersonal communication.
For example, do you remember a time when you made arrangements to meet a friend–and one of you didn’t show up? Assuming that you both remembered your appointment, one of you goofed.
The mis-communication that occurred was either because one of you was not clear in their directions, or one of you didn’t listen carefully to the time that you agreed upon. As a result, you either never met, or your meeting was postponed.
Good communication requires both clear expression of your ideas and good listening skills.
Non Verbal Communication
We communicate with each other even without speaking. Here are just a few of the non-verbal communication techniques that we use every day:
- Body language – the way we hold our bodies actually sends a message. Did you know that you can tell if a person likes or dislikes you–simply by watching their body language?
- Mirroring – this is a special kind of body language. A person mirrors the body position of another when they are in sync or on the same wave length!
- Facial expressions – Your face can give you away–or tell a story. Most of us cannot hide how we feel, because our faces reveal so much.
- Eye contact – appropriate eye contact shows that we are interested. Glaring eye contact is confrontational.
While we may communicate easily with others, there are many people who are afraid to speak on the phone, speak in a meeting, discuss something with the boss, chat with peers during break or even meet a neighbor across the fence at home.
We call this communication anxiety or social anxiety, and the reasons for it are complicated–but reversible.
For some reason (past experience, early programming), people who are afraid to communicate, fear rejection, criticism or they are convinced that they are not worthy.
If you have this problem, you can overcome it. One effective way to do so is to replace negative thoughts that cause the anxiety, with positive thoughts. Hypnosis is a very effective way to do this.
Distractions in Communication
There are 3 types of distractions that come quickly to mind:
- External noise – Ever try to have a conversation with a neighbor, while an airplane was flying overhead? Or talk on the phone when your child was demanding lunch?
Noises in the background and demands for our attention interfere with your ability to fully concentrate on the conversation. In fact, you may only hear and process part of the conversation, because your attention is divided.
- Internal noise – Most of us don’t actually hear voices in our heads–but we do hear thoughts. And many of us divide our attention between what we are thinking and what we are listening to.
For example, do you ever remember a time when you were thinking about what you needed to do on the way home from work–while talking with a co-worker who was telling you about the Little League game last Saturday? Do you think you heard and assimilated the whole story?
In order to have a good conversation, with good give and take, you need to be fully present, in the moment–and you need to ignore your internal noise.
- Semantic noise – Often cultural, this occurs when two people interpret the same word or phrase differently.
Your previous experiences have created a definition for the “symbol” you are trying to convey, but the person you are speaking to may decode a word or phrase differently, based on his background.
Unfortunately, words that are derogatory often cause semantic noise.
Mirroring is when you repeat what you heard to the person who said it–to make sure that you heard what they intended to say. This is a way to make sure that you understood what the person intended to say.
You can do this by saying:
- “Did you mean….?”
- “Okay, I’ll meet you at the Sunshine Café, Tuesday at 11am, is that right?”
The person who originally delivered the message has the opportunity to clarify any misunderstanding. As a result, everyone is clear on what was said, intended and delivered.
As you can see, the definition of communication includes quite a few aspects. We communicate with our voices, our pens (writing), computers, and our bodies.
Photo courtesy of andronicusmax