Communication is the process of transferring signals/messages between a sender and a receiver through various methods (written words, nonverbal cues, spoken words). It is also the mechanism we use to establish and modify relationships.
We are social beings and communication is key in our interaction between each other. Although we begin our communication since we are infants, there is still a lot for us to learn in this skill, especially in this digital age. It is shocking how some people and organisations do not put more focus on developing this life skill further.
Factors that influence our messages, regardless if we are ones sending or receiving the messages include:
- Body language: This is the face-to-face interaction between individuals and/or groups; the non-verbal cues and gestures from facial expressions to the space between individuals. It is also the way you listen, look, move, and react
- Tone: According to Mehrabian, the tone of voice we use is responsible for about 35-40 percent of the message we are sending. It pertains to pitch, volume, pace, and emphasis. Tone involves the volume you use, the level and type of emotion that you communicate and the emphasis that you place on the words that you choose. People respond instinctively to voice tone; either positively or negatively.
- Words and language: Words are important in both the written or spoken communication between parties. Hence, it is best to use simple words and less jargon to reduce the likelihood of being mistaken
- Frame of reference: This affects a person’s interpretation of the message. Frame of reference includes the listener’s experiences, knowledge, goals, beliefs, feelings, values, attitudes, etc.
- Emotional state of sender & receiver: Level of confidence and whether each is feeling positive or negative will have an impact on how well the message is being communicated
- Culture & diversity: People from different cultural & diverse backgrounds interpret and perceive things differently
- Technology: Advancement in technology (e.g. emails, mobile phones, SMS texts, instant messaging, etc) has influenced the way and means of how we communicate with each other
Communication skills are also referred to as interpersonal, social, people or soft skills. These are all life skills we use every day to communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups. People who have worked on developing strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives. Hence, isn’t it important for you to keep improving yourself in this area?