So, comuncation is… like er important, you knowj?
Hi Friends. What was your first impression of that sentence? What was the first thing you thought? It’s a joke, right? It would be hard to believe that someone would have a sentence like that on the home page of a website. I did it to stress the importance of communication. Everything we say or write or do communicates. Also, the manners in which we present ourselves through our speech, our dress, our writing, our bodies, and even our websites communicates. Everything that we present to the world communicates something about ourselves, and it is vital that we understand this because our success in the world depends upon it.
The Importance of Communication Skills
I would like you to go back to our opening sentence for a moment. I’d like you to read it again and try to visualize the person who wrote it. Do you visualize a man or a woman? Young, old?
Believe it or not, I have seen many sentences similar to our introductory sentence written by students in my classes over the years (at the beginning of the school year, of course). This exercise reveals that we make judgments about others – even when they’re not present. We are a society who will, in a nanosecond, judge a book by its cover. It’s a defensive, instinctual tactic that we have refined throughout millennia to ensure that we are safe in a particular environment. Over the past thousands of years, when we encountered another being, whether human or not, we needed to determine whether they were a threat. This is one of our most primitive forms of communication, and as mentioned it has become refined and somewhat perverted from its original purpose. In our present society, we rarely find ourselves in life-or-death situations; however, at a deep subconscious level, we may still think that we are. Though fascinating, this is a conversation for another time.
As we pick up signals from others, we are simultaneously sending signals. We find success in our lives through our successful communication. Becoming aware of our communication styles and skills, and more importantly, to where we lack particular communication skills is vital to our success in society.
Communication is commonly defined as an exchange of information between people. For practical purposes this should suffice, but let’s be impractical for a moment and suggest that there are exchanges of information that occur between other elements in our environments, some that may go beyond our understanding or perception. There is certainly communication between animals. When a dog growls or a cat hisses and arches her back, those animals are definitely communicating something either to other animals or to humans. There are moments of inspiration in nature that I have experienced where I have received a deep peace and solace that I would label as forms of communication. There are those who believe in, and claim to communicate with “higher powers” or “beings” not of this earth. So, limiting our definition to just “people” might be a bit… limiting. For most of our discussions, we shall be focusing on interpersonal communications (read on).
Communication surrounds us. It passes through and around us always. It is like the air that we breathe, and like our breathing, we are constantly communicating; giving and receiving signals, very rarely noticing its occurrence until we encounter a block or a barrier in transmission.
Effective communication means that we aware of our abilities and of the nature and the pervasiveness of the constant communication that surrounds us. Effective communication means that we can achieve and obtain what we want, typically in the manner of our choosing. Effective communicators are masters of their selves and their environments. The importance of effective communication can be found in how communication relates directly to the degree of success of the individual, the organization, and to society in general.
Perhaps the importance of effective communication is most acutely felt when it breaks down. What happens when barriers to communication present themselves? Errors and mistakes abound; negative emotions such as frustration and indignation rise and can sometimes escalate into violence. Ongoing communication challenges within an organization can severely reduce the quality of work and the work environment; it breeds mistrust and can weaken and damage the motivation of workers and productivity.
Communication in Business
There has been, is, will be, and should be a focus on communication in business. Like cash flow, a company needs effective communication flow to survive and thrive. Communication in business takes many forms: letters, memos, faxes, resumes, emails, presentations, spreadsheets. There are also the “soft” forms of communication that need to be considered, and oftentimes stressed, as well: handshakes, dress code, eye contact, posture, speaking voice, and more. We’ll discuss communication in the workplace in a later article.
Interpersonal Communication Skills
Communication is Union; unifying. At its most basic level, it helps us provide and obtain what we desire and need from our fellow humans. To do this effectively and efficiently, we must be able to be effective and efficient communicators. Communication is the life source of society and civilizations. It is our schools, our business, our entire social structure. Though there is communication with other elements in our environment s and our world, interpersonal communication skills make all of what we know as society possible.
Communicating effectively takes on many forms and works on many levels and vibrations. It gave rise to our sensory systems and still scintillates, sometimes beyond the recognition of our senses five. It is practically impossible to imagine a world without communication because it is our inter-relating with our world that comprises our lives. The importance of communication is not an element of our lives, it is the essence of our lives.
Homework: Here’s a nice exercise for you to do: Go for a conscious walk, it doesn’t have to be a long walk, but as you’re moving through your world, try to be aware of all of the communication that is going on around you; the people that you see or encounter, the signs and billboards, the traffic lights, the houses and colors and landscaping – it’s all communicating something to someone. Open up to it and be aware of it.