We live in a world surrounded by information: coming at us from television, radio, computers and face-to-face with others around us. With that title wave comes an increased need to function efficiently: to do our jobs, raise our families and maintain cordial relationships with those around us. Ironically, all that noise and chatter can make it difficult to function which is why effective communication skills are more important than ever.
The purpose of effective communication is to reach consensus and build harmony. That allows everyone to work in concert, feel valued and accomplish what they set out to do. Effective communication looks for common ground, negotiation points and areas of specific importance to the other person. They allow things to proceed in a smooth and emotionally satisfying manner.
Effective communication allows ideas to be conveyed clearly and succinctly. The applications of this are almost limitless. Doctors need good communication skills to let their patients know the prognosis, while salesmen need to communicate in order to correctly impart the benefits of their product. Teachers need them to convey knowledge to their students and students need them to articulate their questions and express their confusion.
Effective communication infers a two-way connection between the parties involved. That allows everyone that contributes to the discussion feel as if they’ve been heard. Listening is as important as speaking in effective communication, permitting the free exchange of ideas and allowing all facts and opinions to be heard. Effective communication refrains from personal attacks and focuses instead on the problem or issue at hand. These aspects help reduce the stress of the situation and allow those involved to better focus.
Communication infers verbal interaction, but it can mean other things as well. This includes the written word (conveyed in letters or emails) and nonverbal signs such as body language and the tone of one’s voice. Because we don’t often consider these other forms of communication we tend to take them for granted. More effective communication addresses them properly, making us more aware of the effects we have on others.
Lack of effective communication costs more than just hurt feelings. When people aren’t communicating, it takes them more time to convey pertinent information. Poor communication also results in wasted efforts, as mistakes aren’t corrected and resources are devoted to needless tasks. In the worst cases, it can divide a group through personal rancor, as larger issues get lost amid perceived slights and insults.
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