The choice of a person’s words is one barrier. The words we select to use will have an influence on the quality of our communication. To use words effectively, we need to understand their meanings and associations, in different situations. An additional barrier is the misinterpretation of body language, tone, or other forms of non verbal communication. Again, we should learn how to read another person’s nonverbal cues so we know how to respond to them. The way you pay attention, look, shift, and respond tell the other person whether or not you care and how well you’re listening. We learn from the very beginning of our lives how to get what we want with gestures and non-communication, and then we learn to trust our environment
One more barrier is selective hearing. A very irritating thing about communication is when the person is not listening to you. This can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Many people choose what they want to hear and do not hear all of the important facts. We should be active listeners so the communication is not lost from one person to the next. You should not be distracted when listening. You should paraphrase, make acknowledgments, don’t interrupt, and then respond. A good example of selective listening is with children. Children only hear the beginning of the conversation. They become bored with what they are hearing and lose their concentration. So it is best not to beat around the bush; get straight to the point.
Also, an extra barrier is to overcome is power struggles. Sometimes we do not want to listen to someone who does not have the authority over us. Many people think they do not need to listen to another person that may not be of a higher rank then they are. This is true in children and at the workplace. Some other barriers may be stereotyping, or culture differences. All of these barriers can be overcome. To overcome these barriers and become good listeners with effective communication, we should be open-minded, polite, and thoughtful. Everyone could use to learn more when dealing with communication, to learn and understand how to make the interpersonal interactions more efficient.
There are many principles to be effective in interpersonal communication. By understanding these principles, we can improve our communication with our coworkers, and anyone we come in contact with. The first principle is to treat each other with respect (Sharland, 2008). This means that instead of putting our energy into complaining about others, we should use that energy for a better use. We should have an open hearted consideration for others no matter who they are or whatever they have done. Treating someone disrespectfully leads to escalating responses. For example, if we have a disagreement with a coworker, we should listen to their point of view to keep the communication ongoing. It would be nearly impossible to work with someone you cannot have a conversation with. This does not mean we have to like this person, but it does mean that the circumstances that caused the issue are unlikely to get worse.
The second principle is that we should not interrupt one another (Sharland, 2008). Interruptions can be in a form of speaking at the same time, cell phones ringing, or something other than listening to the speaker. By not interrupting others and focusing on what another person is saying, we are more likely to be listened to. Many times we assume we know what the person is going to say and we bring our own thoughts into the conversation. This is also interrupting. The listener takes over the conversation and they never fully hear what the speaker is saying. “Many discussions are hindered by interruptions and often at the end those involved go away with very different views about what has been said” (Sharland, 2008).
The third principle is that we have the right to pass (Sharland, 2008). Sometimes we may want to pass on something but we still participate because we feel coerced or guilty if we do not participate. We often call this “peer pressure”. When people are not able to pass on something, they become “closed up” about their thoughts and feelings because people begin to talk about them. Resentment can build against others and damage a relationship. At work there is often pressure to “do what others are doing.” If we do not conform to others, we feel isolated and resent the other coworkers. Sometimes it is just difficult to say ‘no’.
The fourth principle of effective communication is that we do not volunteer others (Sharland, 2008). Sometimes before making a decision for someone else, we should check with them first. When we do not communicate, we cause confusion and conflict. For example, if I were to decide to go somewhere for the weekend and my spouse has made other plans, there may be a conflict between us. Although it may take time to communicate with this other person, it will eliminate any conflict. The time to resolve the conflict is greater than the time it takes to communicate with another. Sometimes we are volunteered to do something that is not in our job description. When this happens, because there is not pay increase, we may resent our employer and may appear unenthusiastic about our job.
The fifth principle is to speak only for ourselves (Sharland, 2008). In speaking for ourselves, we often use ‘I’ statements. Many times we do not hold the same views as others and should not assume they feel the same way. Speaking for others usually leads to conflict. We can assume we know what someone is feeling, but the only way of knowing is to ask them. By using this principle, we make more accurate statements with our communication and avoid unnecessary resentment or conflict.
The sixth principle is that we do not speak too often or for too long (Sharland, 2008). If we speak too long, we will have bored listeners and will lose their attention. We will also take too much time and not give them a chance to voice their own opinions. This situation can happen at our workplace such as in meetings or can happen in the home. Many times a parent goes on and on to a child. The child gets tired of listening and is then disciplined for not listening. If a person speaks too often, they are resented because they do not allow others to speak. This happens often in meetings when an individual contributes their thoughts on the subject. They continue with their thoughts and do not give others the opportunity to voice their opinion. The effectiveness of the communication is reduced because the conversation is one-sided. When someone speaks too long or too often, we can improve the conversation by showing our interest. Many times people who repeat things over and over feel they are not being heard. If we question them or show our interest, they feel their ideas are being listened to and will move on to the next topic.
The seventh principle is that we challenge the behavior and not the person (Sharland, 2008). When we challenge or label a person, ineffective communication occurs. Many times we focus on how someone is perceived to be rather than the behavior they exhibit. Labels are often the result of a conflict. This ineffectiveness in communication brings defensiveness in the person being labeled. When we label a person, the communication does not move forward. We may be able to vent our anger, but we do not communicate the reason for the anger. Instead of name calling, one should express their feelings or the reasons for their behavior. Name calling is just an endless solution.
The eighth principle of effective communication is that we respect confidentiality (Sharland, 2008). When we respect one’s confidentiality, we gain a person’s trust. It also brings a feeling of safety, intimacy, and acknowledging and respecting one’s vulnerability in relation to the issue. If we pass on confidential information, we lose the trust of the other person. Many times if people feel their personal information is going to be shared with other, they are uncomfortable and less likely to share their views, fears, ideas, vulnerabilities, or mistakes.
The ninth principle is that it is ok to make mistakes (Sharland, 2008). With this principle, we realize that we are not perfect and making mistakes are opportunities for learning, connecting and insight rather than opportunities to condemn others. Without this principle, the other eight would be useless. When we make a mistake, we should use a different principle to be effective in our communication. All of the principles are not rules to go by, but are guidelines to make communication meaningful and effective.
Communication is composed of verbal and nonverbal expressions. Verbal communication is what we actually say. Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, eye contact, body posture, and motions. We are sensitive to these types of body language. As many of us have heard the saying, “Our actions speak louder than words.” Our nonverbal communication must match what we say. Nonverbal communication can help emphasize the truth, sincerity, and reliability of our communication. Nonverbal communication is important in many situations. It is good to pick up nonverbal cues to prepare oneself on how to handle the situation. We can respond to another appropriately when we understand their nonverbal cues. It also allows us to prevent a violent situation from being escalated.
There are many things to consider when interpreting nonverbal communication. We should consider distance. The distance a person stands from another often gives a nonverbal cue. In some cultures, the distance shows how intense the communication is. A person’s posture shows how formal the communication is or how relaxed it is. We may be sitting or standing, or have our arms crossed. Another thing to consider is the physical contact with the other person. Shaking hands, embracing, pushing, or patting are all ways to send a nonverbal cue. Some great features of nonverbal communication include facial expressions, gestures, and the way we look at someone. A smile, frown, raised eyebrow, yawn, and sneer can all carry information. There are many different facial expressions and they can change throughout a person’s conversation or interaction with another person. Hand movement is the most frequently used gestures but the least understood. People use their hands quite often while they are talking. It may be difficult to know what a person is meaning when they use their hands. The person could be just demonstrating something with their hands. Another feature of nonverbal communication is eye contact.
Effective communication is very important for you the speaker and the listener. When we communicate effectively, we can eliminate misunderstandings and conflict. When we listen, we need to hear all of the details and be sympathetic to their feelings. We need to learn how to read nonverbal cues. By learning the basic communication skills one can have better communication with others. Effective communication is an essential component to be successful whether it is at work or at home.