As social beings, we always use certain skills to make our relationships with others, both personally and professionally, as easy, smooth, and pleasant as possible for us and for the other members.
The most important of these is the skill of communication. The relationship of communication is mutual. Being easily understood improves our psychology, and conversely, a person with a good mood can communicate more easily. Similarly, problems in interpersonal communication are often associated with loneliness and symptoms of depression, as the individual is more likely to experience rejection in their environment, which in turn affects their self-confidence and psychology.
So, it is essential to know what communication skills are, how they are divided, the most common obstacles, and how to overcome them. You must remember that communication is not just about what you say and hear.
Communication is defined as the process of exchanging information among individuals. It begins with processing the thoughts you want to express. Once you’ve decided what you want to say, you continue by choosing the way in which you will express it to make it as easily understandable as possible. Then your message is conveyed through the medium you are using (physical presence, phone, email, etc.), and finally, the result reaches the listener, who is called upon to decode it in order to understand it and respond. The better your communication skills are, the less effort the listener will need to decode what you are trying to say.
This process, of course, happens instantly without you realizing it, but by knowing the above stages, you can easily identify any communication problems and rectify them. Communication skills are expressed in the following five ways, each with its own requirements and individualities.Αρχή φόρμας
Verbal communication occurs when you converse with others by conveying immediate auditory messages, either in person or through means like the phone or video calls. Verbal communication, in addition to the information you convey through words, is significantly influenced by the tone, speed, and intensity of your voice.
It also happens when you listen. For example, every time you say “okay” or “I understand,” you are using verbal communication again, which helps the speaker understand that you’ve received their message. Verbal communication should be carried out with speed, vocal tone, and word choice that facilitates the listener’s comprehension of the content and the tone of what you’re saying.
Non-verbal communication encompasses what we do while speaking or listening, such as facial expressions, body posture, eye contact, and gestures. Every time you communicate with someone in person, you unavoidably use a combination of non-verbal and verbal communication (as mentioned above).
The importance of non-verbal communication is significant because when you speak, it helps convey your message to the listener, and when you listen, it gives your interlocutor the impression that you have understood what they said. For instance, if you want to describe a direction, a simple gesture (non-verbal communication) can be much more helpful and quicker than a verbal description (e.g., “it’s to the northwest”). Similarly, non-verbal communication when listening (such as the well-known nod of agreement) lets the speaker know that you are actively listening.
If you do not react verbally or non-verbally while someone is speaking, the communication between you and the other person can easily become disjointed, as they may think they do not have your attention. Therefore, it is important, whether you are listening or speaking, to use non-verbal communication
In written communication, the entire exchange between individuals takes place exclusively through text. Some well-known mediums that enable this exchange include personal messages on social media, SMS, and emails.
The need for effective written communication has skyrocketed in the digital age, primarily due to participation in social media. However, the way this communication is conducted, although it now occupies a significant portion of our overall communication, is also the one that requires the most effort and can be easily misunderstood. This is because it cannot be easily supplemented with other modes of communication (e.g., non-verbal communication).
Protect the message you want to convey by ensuring its clarity and accuracy before sending it. Use short sentences and emojis (in friendly conversations) as alternative non-verbal communication when necessary.
A crucial part of every communication, whether verbal or written, is making an effort to listen and then process the information to understand it. It sounds simple, but often, if your attention briefly drifts elsewhere, significant communication gaps can emerge, either by missing part of the conversation or by distorting its meaning. Such lapses can increase the communication gap between conversational partners.
Listen carefully to what your conversation partner is saying without interrupting. Additionally, pay attention to their body language to help you better understand what they are trying to convey.
Another form of communication that has surged with the rise of digital media is visual communication. Visual communication involves conveying information using visual means. Images, gifs, memes, and emojis are all visual methods of communication.
Essentially, these serve as substitutes for non-verbal communication and are used to enhance written communication (text). For instance, a gif in response to something sent by a conversational partner can mimic our expression when we read their message. We couldn’t convey something similar as recipients of the message using simple words.
The use of images has significantly increased the amount of information we can convey in text messages. However, it requires moderation and the right choice of content to avoid giving the wrong impression or overwhelming the conversation partner. This particular mode of communication is not suitable for professional conversations.
Social Skills Improvement Guide
Knowing the following methods of communication, it’s time to see how to use them to your advantage, neutralizing communication barriers and improving your communication skills.
- Choose the right communication medium: The right communication medium is the one that allows you, depending on the situation, to communicate within the time constraints you have with the least possible noise. “Noise” during communication is anything that hinders the complete transmission of information. Common examples of noise include interference and weak signal on the phone, as well as the noise in the environment where you are having a conversation. Often, people hastily choose communication methods that complicate understanding rather than facilitating it.
Each medium has its strengths and weaknesses, and these should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. For example, an SMS has the advantage of minimal noise, but a face-to-face conversation can convey a much larger volume of information in a relatively short amount of time.
- Use Simple Language: Effective communication is the one that is easily and quickly understood. By using simple words and clear speech, the listener decodes what you want to convey quickly and accurately.
- Practice: Like any skill, effective communication requires practice and maintenance to continue being successful. In today’s world, where face-to-face communication has significantly decreased, it’s important to make extra effort to maintain social contacts, preferably in person.
This is because, according to research, this specific method of communication is much more effective in bringing people closer together so they can form emotional connections. In contrast, messages through sound, text, or video score significantly lower in conveying information based on smiles, laughter, gestures, and body language.
- Evaluate Yourself: Of course, it’s not enough just to communicate. It’s important to analyze the progress of your communication skills. For example, if your conversation partner seeks confirmation that you are listening, it’s an indication that you might be lacking in non-verbal communication, or there may be “noise” in the chosen medium.
If listeners in a group ask for clarification on something you just said, that’s a sign you need to pay more attention to verbal communication.
- Ask for Feedback: Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to evaluate yourself adequately. In such cases, you can seek more information from people you trust to learn how you could make it easier for your conversation partners to understand you.
- Empathy: Listening to your conversation partner is, of course, essential for effective communication. However, in many cases, this is not enough. You should be able to put yourself in their shoes, see things from their perspective, and understand their emotions. This way, you can connect more with what they are experiencing and continue the communication with greater substance and more relevant content.
- Identify Barriers: Communication barriers can be significant, and if not identified, they may completely block an individual’s efforts to communicate. Therefore, by keeping the following basic barriers in mind, you can observe them and then apply solutions to overcome them.
1.Personal and Preconceived Notions: Avoid forming opinions and predicting what your interlocutor wants to tell you before they finish expressing themselves. Many times, we rely on personal biases that act as blinders and hinder effective communication.
2.Linguistic and Cultural Differences: Depending on the age, nationality, and place of origin of the interlocutors, you should adapt what you say to be easily understood. For example, avoid using slang when talking to an elderly family member or local idioms when you are in a city where they are not used.
3.Low Information Level: It’s crucial at all times to be aware of whether the interlocutors are familiar with certain information, without assuming they already know it. Also, convey accurate, only relevant information. Passing on incorrect information not only confuses but can also increase distrust towards you, damaging communication.
- Utilize and Showcase Your Communication Skills: It’s important to remember that communication doesn’t happen magically. It takes two people to meet and someone to initiate the dialogue. Try to be available for communication with those around you, showing through your body language and choices that you’re not hiding. Seek out environments (walks, hobbies) where face-to-face communication is frequent. Encourage dialogue when it arises and avoid monosyllabic or overly lengthy responses.
Communication between people is a living organism that evolves and requires our attention. The evolution of our personalities, as well as the fluctuations in our psychology, are closely connected to how we communicate and to what extent the people around us understand us. By improving your communication skills, you enhance your sociability and your mood, as you understand those around you more easily, and they understand you.
“In my social circles, I used to be quite quiet, not talking much because I thought I couldn’t contribute anything to the conversation. I realized I was wrong about the topics that interested the others, so I started finding common ground, initiating dialogue on those topics. I not only enjoy communicating now, but it’s also something the people around me expected from me.” – N., 4th year
“I usually felt uncomfortable every time I communicated face to face, but I realized that communication takes effort and doesn’t happen automatically. So, I observed where I made mistakes and actively pursued situations I used to avoid. Communication became easy from the moment I understood its essence and how I should approach it.” – A., 5th year