The Power of Communication Skills
One of the most important life skills to possess is to be able to communicate effectively. Strong communication skills the act of being able to transfer information from one place to another is termed as communication. This transfer of information may take place:
- By using our voice (vocal communication)
- By writing via either print or digital media such as books, websites, magazines, blogs, etc.
- Visually by using maps, charts, logos, or graphs
- Non-verbally by using gestures, body language, pitch and tone of our voice
You can measure how good your communication skills are by observing how well you have been able to transmit the intended information and how well it has been received.
Significance of Possessing Good Communication Skills
If you possess good communication skills, it is bound to help you in every aspect of your life, right from your professional life to personal life, social gatherings, and the like. The seemingly simple ability to communicate information accurately, effectively, clearly and as intended is, in fact, a significant life skill and it is something which you should not overlook or underestimate. Communication skills can always be worked upon and improved, and it is never too late to work upon them. If you work towards developing your communication skills, it can improve the quality of life.
In your professional life whenever you apply for jobs or expect a promotion, the primary skill that every employer or manager looks for is whether you demonstrate good communication skills. This skill is given so much importance because you need to be able to communicate appropriately with a lot of people, exhibit a rich and varied vocabulary, and customise your language based on your target audience, present your ideas appropriately, listen effectively, write concisely and clearly, and function well within a group. Hence every employer seeks these essential skills within every employee. In fact, verbal communication skills are usually ranked first amongst a potential candidate’s “must have” skills.
Let’s take a look at the various types of communication skills.
Types of Communication Skills
1. Interpersonal Communication Skills
The process via which individuals exchange information, meaning, and feelings via verbal and non-verbal messages is termed as interpersonal communication. In other words, it is face-to-face communication. The essence of interpersonal communication is not about what is being just said or the language that has been used, but it depends on how it is conveyed using various non-verbal messages such as the tone and pitch of voice, gestures, facial expressions, and body language.
- Components of Interpersonal Communication
A lot of research has been done towards breaking down interpersonal communication into a number of elements so that it is easy to comprehend. Some of these common elements of interpersonal communication include the following:
- Two Entities Involved
Any communication needs at least two people to be involved, as communication is an interactive process. While one individual is speaking the other individual is involved in listening. However, while the other individual is listening, he or she is also transmitting feedback in the form of nods, smiles, etc.
- The Message
Message not only indicates the speech that is used or the information that is conveyed, but it also includes the non-verbal messages exchanged such as the tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. Non-verbal communication conveys additional information about the spoken message.
Feedback comprises of the messages that the receiver returns, which enables the sender to comprehend how accurately the message has been received. It also provides hints to the sender via the receiver’s reaction. Feedback facilitates the sender to adapt, regulate, or repeat the message to improve future communication.
All types of communication are influenced by the context in which it occurs. The context may be situational such a conference room, perhaps outdoors, and office or it may also be a social context such as roles, responsibilities, etc. of the participants.
2. Verbal communication
Verbal communication includes all that we say. It is an important means of conveying our message across. In fact, the words that we select make a huge difference to whether the opposite person understands us. For instance, if you are communicating with a kid or with someone who does not speak the same language yours quite fluently, you need to use a simple language using short sentences and checking if they are able to comprehend your message from time to time. This kind of communication will be quite different from a conversation which you may strike off with an old friend whom you have known for years. With such an old acquaintance you may not even need to complete your sentences because he already understands what you are trying to convey.
Some of the common techniques used in verbal communication include reflection and clarification. These techniques ensure that what you have heard and comprehended is what was intended. One of the crucial skills in the area of verbal communication is questioning skills. This skill is often used for clarification, and also to extract more information. You need verbal communication skills mostly while striking a conversation or while giving a speech.
3. Non-verbal communication
Communicating using our voice is just the tip of the iceberg. We, in fact, communicate in various other ways and much more information using our non-verbal communication skills. Non-verbal communication includes gestures, facial expression, non-verbal signals, body language, tone of voice, and even our appearance.
One of the significant interpersonal communication skills is listening. In fact, when we communicate we spend around 45% of our time listening. A lot of us tend to take listening for granted, but listening is not the same as hearing, and it is an important aspect of our skill of communication.
If you are unable to listen effectively, messages may be easily misunderstood. The outcome will be that communication breaks down and the sender of the message may easily become irritated or frustrated.
There is a marked difference between listening and hearing. Hearing refers to the sounds that reach your ears. It is a physiological process that takes place automatically. Listening, on the other hand, requires much more than that. It needs focus and concentrated effort.
5. Other Communication Skills
Communication skills include a lot more than simple verbal and non-verbal communication. Let’s take a look at a couple of other communication skills.
- Presentation Skills
Although, presentation skills may not be used frequently by most of us, however, there are times in when we do need this skill in order to present information to a group of people, either in a formal or informal setting.
- Written Skills
The ability to be able to write and convey effectively and clearly is the key to communication. This skill is not just limited to authors or journalists. In fact, a poorly written communication can be quite frustrating for the reader and may also communicate the message inappropriately or incorrectly. In a corporate set up, written skills are of great significance where a lot of communication takes place via emails.
- Personal Skills
While we may not realise the importance of personal skills such as maintaining a healthy body and mind, they go a long way to enhance our communication. For instance, if you improve your self-esteem and build your confidence, it helps you to feel more positive about yourself including your ability to communicate effectively. If you have an in-depth understanding of yourself and a more relaxed and positive outlook towards life, you are more likely to be charming which further aids the way you communicate. Lastly, good communication skill is also directly linked to assertiveness – that is, standing up for what you truly believe in.