Current Issue 13thFebruary 2016 - 19 February 2016, i.e. No. 45


— Rahul Kumar Shukla

Communication, of late, has become an important area of studies. In the 21st century contemporary society is increasingly getting diverse and communication is getting more complex. It is because the world is in the making of a “global village”, predicted years ago. Today, it is not at all surprising to find a French buying Indian saris or German buying books on Indian Philosophy in a local market. Even Indian students, scholars, IT professionals and business wizards commute all across the world for their respective personal and professional needs. This has posed a great challenge for the researchers and educators as how to communicate effectively both in India and overseas. These educators and researchers are focusing their work and courses on the challenges of communicating in a diverse and often computer mediated society. Many scholars are also stressing on the role of communication in a civil and democratic society.
            Communication is a skill, which involves systematic and continuous process of speaking, listening and understanding. Most people are born with the physical ability to talk, but we must learn to speak well and communicate effectively. Speaking, listening, and our ability to understand verbal and nonverbal cues are the skills we develop in various ways. We learn basic communication skills by observing other people and modeling our behaviours on what we see and perceive. We are also taught some communication skills directly through education. By bringing those skills into practice and getting them evaluated, we can hone them further.

            Contemporary students of communication draw on theories and practices common in the fields of anthropology, psychology, sociology, linguistics, semiotics, and rhetoric. Communication as a discipline now includes interpersonal communication; small-group communication; organisational communication; intercultural and international communication; public, mass, and media communication. The study of communication, therefore, considers how people communicate as individuals, in society and across cultures.

The Importance of Communication

    Today the success of any venture, whether taken individually or as an organization, hinges on the ability of communicating  effectively and clearly. Using the right tools to communicate the right message at the right time can salvage a crisis and motivate people to work towards success.

    It is important both to the individual and to modern organizations in the following ways:

Helping Individual

Effective communication skills can make a huge difference between being hired and fired. A well-organized job letter with a perfectly structured résumé followed by a convincing interview can get a good job for the recipient. Additionally, good communication skills advance the person socially, build self-confidence and enable him to help and lead others. It, sometimes, helps more than the core competence of a person to get a job.

Helping the Organization

    A good leader is the one who knows the art of conveying his message to the people and bringing them at consensus with logical arguments. This trait can only be developed when a leader has good communicative skills. By improving on the communicative skills, a leader can not only help himself but also the entire organization. The ability to receive, evaluate, use and pass on information gathered from within and outside the organization affects the effectiveness of an organization. A manager who relies on such abilities can make necessary and suitable decisions for the  growth and development of the organization.

The Basic forms of Communication:

    There are two major forms in which communication is categorized. They are:

The Nonverbal Communication

    The most basic form of communication is nonverbal communication which includes all the cues, gestures, vocal qualities, spatial relationships, attitude towards time and everything else that allow us to communicate without words. The non-verbal cues are used to express superiority, dependence, likes, dislikes, happiness, anger, frustration, confidence, respect, love and a host of other feelings and attitude. Paying proper attention to the following cues can make one an effective communicator:

•   Personal Appearance: It makes the first impact on the audience which includes dress, hair style and light makeup.
•   Posture: It refers to the way one stands, sits and walks. The movement of the body, the position of the hands and legs and other parts of the body reveal an individual’s personality whether he is vibrant, jittery, nervous, confident or self-assured. A good speaker stands tall.
•   Walk Gracefully: Move legs freely from the hips, lift your feet from the floor and walk in a straight line. Avoid a stride and tiny steps.
•   Gestures: A well-timed gesture drives the point home. All the verbal communication is accompanied by gestures such as shrugging of the shoulders, flourishing of the hands, movement of the head etc. These gestures enhance the impact and add greater value to what is being said.
•   Facial Expressions: Of all the parts of the body, face is extremely expressive. A smile (friendliness), a frown (discontent), raising the eyebrows (disbelief), or tightening the jaw muscles (antagonism) can add to the meaning conveyed through verbal means.
•   Eye Contact: Eye contact is a means of gaining feedback, enabling the speaker to alter, adjust and reframe his message. A better eye contact leads to communication that is more effective.
•   Space and Distancing: It differs from culture to culture. In formal gatherings, it may be ranging from 4-12 feet.
•   Chronemics: Chronemics is the study of how human beings utilize time while communicating. It is also an important feature of communication. People judge a person based on how much importance he attaches to time. Time reflects one’s sincerity and punctuality.
•   Silence: Many scholars treat silence as a part of non-verbal communication. Here the receiver has to decide what the sender wants to convey through silence based on the context and situation. Understanding the sense of silence can help the participant to know the state of mind of a sender. It could be a great help while communicating across cultures.

Verbal Communication  

    Although we can be expressive through non-verbal cues, yet it has its own limitations. If one has to discuss the past events, ideas or abstractions, one needs symbols that stand for one’s thoughts. Verbal communication consists of words arranged in meaningful patterns. To express thoughts, words are arranged according to the rules of grammar with various parts of speech arranged in different sequence. To be successful, a person requires to have integrated four skills of verbal communication-reading, writing, listening and speaking. These abilities are, of course, not inborn but can be cultivated by hard work and little focus.

•   Reading Skills: It requires simple changes in the approach to master talent. To be a better writer and communicator, one needs to spend enough time on reading. It also keeps a person updated with all the current information.  To develop the habit of reading, one should start with the books of one’s own interest. They can be comic books, storybooks, novels, inspirational and motivational books, biographies, poetry etc. Even reading newspapers, especially editorials, can help in improving one’s reading skills.

•   Writing Skills: It is a major vehicle to convey accurate information while maintaining records. It is considered as the most reliable form of communication. To improve on better writing skills, a person should use short and simple sentences. Be clear and precise in information while avoiding wordiness and figurative language. The whole writing should have coherent ideas and should be revised before the final submission. 

•   Listening Skills: Listening is the most frequent, perhaps the most important of all the four skills. It can improve one’s understanding and help to enhance one’s personality. A person can improve on listening by motivating himself to listen for his betterment. A person should be objective while listening and should not bring his conflicting thoughts into it. Good use of thinking and listening ratio should be maintained and finally listening should be well practiced. Sometimes listening in second language is difficult for the listener, in that condition a person should try to watch movies, listen to songs and TV channels in the language one wants to improve.

•   Speaking Skills: Expressing and sharing ideas has become very important in today’s techno-global era. People with poor speaking skills and strong skills of their core competencies do not get good jobs. To develop good speaking skills, one should start with a simple mechanical process of reading loudly a piece of writing which can help the person to create a right tone for the language of learning. Then the person can form small group to discuss about their daily chores in the same language. In this way, the group members can help each other and learn together. Additionally, they can give small talks and presentations in the language on learning to show their understanding and creative use of the language. What a person should avoid is the cramming of sentences by heart, as it is not at all helpful in improving on the speaking skills. Moreover, a person should take complete freedom in the beginning and speak without hesitation. 

(To be concluded)

The author is a Research Scholar at the Dept. of English, University of Lucknow, Lucknow.

view all career articles of this issue | view all archive career articles