There are species of plants with a peculiar defense mechanism. Small insects are fond of snacking on the plant’s evergreen leaves. If insects eat too much, the plant will sustain damage. To protect themselves, plants release an SOS chemical that warns the insects. Insect-eating birds flying overhead can smell the odor: a “Dinner’s ready!” chemical trans-species call. These organisms interact in signals that are sent to and understood by involved parties. Communication, then, is a two-way multi-media transmission of information that is understood by the receiver as intended by the sender.
True to such definition, we humans also communicate in a language that both speaker and listener understand. Interpersonal communication is face to face interaction between people and between groups. It consists of verbal and nonverbal linguistics that work together to transmit messages effectively. Therefore, the message isn’t just dependent on how we articulate it into words and phrases. Our actions and delivery of information are a silent but effective complement to speech. A good communication pathway is not linear. How the recipient of the message receives and reacts to the information transmitted plays a role in the entire communication process.
We have different reasons as to why we interact with each other in the manner that we do. Humans are social animals, and we thrive in social interaction. It helped our species survive pre-civilization. Before the birth of civilization and language, as we know it today, we have been exchanging information with one another. We did so by producing sounds and gestures with known interpretations of that time. We survived and evolved together through cooperation.
It is also in communication that we learn. In fact, all our learning materials are different media of communication—like letters, books, journals, chats, and speeches, that have transcended time in delivering information. Learning and the ability to communicate are impaired when a region of the brain responsible for the process is disturbed or damaged. Communication is, then, a social activity as it is a cognitive function of our brains exercised mechanically by our bodies.
Good communication skills will help you garner those praises from your oral communication classes. It will be instrumental in acing that job interview for a much-coveted company position and advancing your career in your workplace. It will win you awards and recognition. Effective communication doesn’t just do wonders for your career, social, and personal life. It also helps preserve culture, tradition, and identity. But what happens when we remove communication from the entire picture? What kind of barriers would we generate?
“Kill the Indian, Save the Man”
That was the philosophy of the United States assimilation experiment on Native American children. In this harrowing tale in American history, people point out that the goal of the US government was to force their standard of success unto the natives: civilized, well-clothed, English-speaking individuals who abandoned what was deemed as a savage and barbaric lifestyle. And the government did these through boarding schools across the country specifically for Native American children. Education was an imposition, and those who defied were incarcerated.
Growing up in these institutions, the children were forgetting how to speak in their native tongue. Some could no longer communicate with their families that were left behind. The repercussions of the next generation not being able to speak the language of their people go beyond destroying family relationships. Communication allows the passing down of culture and traditions from one generation to the next to preserve the heritage and practices. When we incise the transmission in this manner, we may only be left with vestiges and relics of the indigenous identity inside museums.
Maintaining good interpersonal communication skills are important in your life and in society at large. In an individual sense, effective communication can take us far in life. Browse through the following examples that may help you improve how you can communicate with others.
Anyone can talk, and anyone can listen. Effective communication calls for a tango of talking and listening, even when you are the one speaking. You have to make sure that the message you are sending is received as intended by listening and honing into the cues that your audience is displaying during the present interaction. Add the following tips to your checklist of how to improve your communication.
When you are addressing someone, you look at them in the eye. Eye contact exudes confidence. It also helps you evaluate the effect of the interaction on the recipient of the information you’re giving. When you’re speaking to a crowd, remember to include everyone in the conversation by making eye contact with them. By looking at the person you’re talking to, you can get feedback in real-time. You can change your delivery, pause, add an adlib, or entertain the confusion, so as to make sure that you are not misunderstood.
Talking, as you know, is different from writing. You have to verbally articulate your thoughts. This gets harder when you are to give an impromptu speech where you don’t have the luxury of practice time. Some of us may have the tendency to synchronize our speaking pace with our thought process. Speaking this way will render what you say hard to understand at times. Relax and take the time to enunciate the words properly and clearly. Pauses will also help you gather your thoughts.
When you’re delivering a speech in a podium, don’t just stay rigid in one area. You don’t have to move dramatically from one area to another every minute. It’s also not good to stay in one place in space and time for an hour-long talk, especially when you don’t have visually stimulating visual aids. You can move a few steps away from your point of origin. Use your hands to deliver your point, as well. Limp hands at your sides would make you seem robotic and unnatural.
Even if we keep our social circles close-knit and exclusive only to people sharing our interests, we cannot avoid interacting with people who don’t understand jargons that we consider colloquial. We are bound to talk to them, either through everyday conversations or formal speeches. Therefore, both speaker and listener should meet halfway by using terminologies and illustrations that are familiar to both parties. Remember that communication is an exchange of ideas through known language system by both the speaker and the audience. Alienating your audience just to sound smart disregards that goal.