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Definition of Communication

In simple terms, communication can be defined as actions whereby 'actors' impart information to one another. Communication does not have to involve language and does not have to be vocalized. Deaf people often communicate through gestures. Baby's communicate basic wants through crying. Communication does not have to be intended. When we become emotionally aroused we often unintentionally communicate our intense feelings to others through subtle shifts in body language, physiological changes and even pheromones. We used the word actors in our definition because animals can communicate with each other and with us. A cat can demand dinner just as forcefully as any human.

The definition of communication According to the Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary, Communication is defined as the activity or process of giving information to other people or to other living things using signals such as speech, body movements, or radio signals. To sum it up, it is anything that adds meaning to a message. Communication is an ever-changing process and the present communications have a great impact on the communication in the future. Communicating is made up of a few basic elements, namely the people involved in communication (sender-receivers), the messages, feedback, and interference. The basic communication principles are: Communication takes place in a variety of setting and different mediums. Communication involves content and relationship. Communication is a whole process. Communication is inevitable and irreversible. Speech communication has been an on going process for a long time. The Native Americans have included public speaking in their culture as they use the skill in parliamentary debates. In 1636, Rhetoric was introduced as one of the principal subjects. Since historical times, cave men drew drawings to express their thoughts. Besides human beings, animals also communicate with each other. This is due solely to the fact that communication is a whole process and is inevitable to us - human beings. We will definitely communicate! How do we communicate Communication is achieved through many different mediums and in various forms. Examples are through speaking, painting, music, plays, videos, writing and hand signals. The writer or painter expresses himself either directly or in an abstract manner.

Speaking is the most common and direct form of communication. The communication process has various types. For example, there is intra - personal communication which occurs within us. Another example is interpersonal communication where we talk to one another. Starry Night Painting is also another commonly used form of communication between the painter and the viewer. The various uses of shades color combinations, and the uses of shapes or depictions to convey the mood of the painter. A good example is hieroglyphics and cuneiform used by early man. Undoubtedly, music is also used frequently for communication. Rhythm, lyrics and the tempo reflect on the feelings of the composer, who might be trying to bring forward his feelings but through musical notes. A good example is Beethoven, who was deaf and mute. He created famous classical pieces, clearly, he was trying to express his feelings and since he could not hear or communicate properly, he used music as an indirect form to communicate. Next, plays and theatrical works also express through spoken form and actions of the actors. In a mime, the actions are the most important as they convey the message that is being communicated. Videos make use of technology to show exactly what was happening at that particular time frame and day. This is one of the more direct forms of communication as it allows the viewer to immediately know what is happening and through sound or spoken words, it can communicate with the viewer. Writing conveys the author's thoughts and feelings to the reader. Whatever the author wants to express, he does it through the written way, and this is an effective way to communicate as it reaches many people quickly and the ideas are laid out plainly for all to see. Communication history Humans have made use of communication for a very long time. There are many forms of early communication like Hieroglyphics used by cave men, early speech and plays in the Shakespearean days or even movies that have been invented recently. Early men also used signals for communication. Through these signals, people communicate by deciphering the various signals. For example, the Indians use smoke signals to warn of enemies coming. This is especially effective if the message is to be passed to people miles away in the shortest possible time. Hieroglyphics Ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphics. Ideograms consist of a series of drawings, with each picture representing a word or object. Phonograms consist of signs used to represent the sounds of Egyptian language. Egyptians have been making use of Hieroglyphics to communicate, since at least 1198 BC.

Next, we have early speech, often found in story telling. People retold stories of their ancestors and pass on the stories to future generations. This allowed the younger generation to learn more about their past. Oral tradition preserves history as the stories are passed down to the future generations. Music actually began as early as in 590 AD where there were a number of choral works. Movies making began in 1872 after Eadweard Muybridge projected a series of motion photographs to be viewed on a stroboscopic disc. In 1927, there was a movie breakthrough when sound could be played. Black and white television broadcasting then started followed by colored televisions into every house in 1936. However, that was not widely marketed. Plays started also very early. The people use it as another form of communication then. A very popular playwright Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays and it was during those Victorian days that plays were very popular and well liked by all classes of people. ______________________________________________________________ Introduction Why you need to get your message across Why Communications Skills Are So Important: The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others clearly and unambiguously.

Doing this involves effort from both the sender of the message and the receiver. And it's a process that can be fraught with error, with messages often misinterpreted by the recipient. When this isn't detected, it can cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort and missed opportunity.

In fact, communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information as a result of the communication. Communication, And Much More! With the Mind Tools E-book, you get all of the tools on the Mind Tools site, brought together into one easily downloadable, easy-to-print PDF. More>>

By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas effectively. When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that you send do not necessarily reflect your own, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks that stand in the way of your goals both personally and professionally. In spite of the increasing importance placed on communication skills, many individuals continue to struggle, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively whether in verbal or written format. This inability makes it nearly impossible for them to compete effectively in the workplace, and stands in the way of career progression.

Getting your message across is paramount to progressing. To do this, you must understand what your message is, what audience you are sending it to, and how it will be perceived. You must also weigh-in the circumstances surrounding your communications, such as situational and cultural context. Communications Skills - The Importance of Removing Barriers: Problems with communication can pop-up at every stage of the communication process (which consists of sender, message, channel, receiver, feedback and context - see the diagram below) and have the potential to create misunderstanding and confusion.

To be an effective communicator and to get your point across without misunderstanding and confusion, your goal should be to lessen the frequency of these problems at each stage of this process with clear, concise, accurate, well-planned communications. We follow the process through below:

Sender... To establish yourself as an effective communicator, you must first establish credibility. In the business arena, this involves displaying knowledge of the subject, the audience and the context in which the message is delivered.

You must also know your audience (individuals or groups to which you are delivering your message). Failure to understand who you are communicating with will result in delivering messages that are misunderstood.

Message... Next, consider the message itself. Written, oral and nonverbal communications are affected by the sender's tone, method of organization, validity of the argument, what is communicated and what is left out, as well as by the individual style of communicating. Messages also have intellectual and emotional components, with intellect allowing us the ability to reason and emotion allowing us to present motivational appeals, ultimately changing minds and actions.

Channel... Messages are conveyed through channels, with verbal including face-to-face meetings, telephone and videoconferencing; and written including letters, emails, memos and reports.

Different channels have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, it's not particularly effective to give a long list of directions verbally, while you'll quickly cause problems if you criticize someone strongly by email.

Receiver... Your message is delivered to individual members of your audience. No doubt, you have in mind the actions or reactions you hope your message will get from this audience. Keep in mind, though, that each of these individuals enters into the communication process with ideas and feelings that will undoubtedly influence their understanding of your message, and their response. To be a successful communicator, you should consider these before delivering your message, and act appropriately.

Feedback... Your audience will provide you with feedback, verbal and nonverbal reactions to your communicated message. Pay close attention to this feedback as it is crucial to ensuring the audience understood your message.


The situation in which your message is delivered is the context. This may include the surrounding environment or broader culture (i.e. corporate culture, international cultures, etc.).

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Click here to find out about our career excellence community. Or subscribe to our free newsletter, and get new career skills delivered straight to your Inbox every two weeks. Removing Barriers At All These Stages To deliver your messages effectively, you must commit to breaking down the barriers that exist in each of these stages of the communication process.

Let's begin with the message itself. If your message is too lengthy, disorganized, or contains errors, you can expect the message to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Use of poor verbal and body language can also confuse the message.

Barriers in context tend to stem from senders offering too much information too fast. When in doubt here, less is oftentimes more. It is best to be mindful of the demands on other people's time, especially in today's ultra-busy society.

Once you understand this, you need to work to understand your audience's culture, making sure you can converse and deliver your message to people of different backgrounds and cultures within your own organization, in your country and even abroad.
Barriers to Effective Communication

Using excessive authority, hence creating fear of openness in others. Preaching open communication while only rewarding good news. Stifling dissent in the name of teamwork. Asking closed questions which elicit only yes or no answers. Promoting a culture which places too much emphasis on unanimity. Being too concerned to win the argument, so not listening to others. Speaking down to people - in Parent to Child mode. Reacting defensively to negative feedback. Speaking in a judgemental tone of voice. Dismissing the source because the person is not at your ''level''. Interrupting because you are in a hurry.

Steps to Effective Communication

Listen actively - ask open questions supportively - those not answerable by yes or no. Thank people for their openness - stress how much you value it - even if you don't particularly like what they said. Point to areas of agreement before jumping on areas of disagreement - this reduces defensiveness by letting the other person know that you agree in part - hence not attacking everything they said. Portray any disagreement as simple a difference of opinion - controlling your anger so as not to convey an "I'm right" - "You're wrong" attitude. A negative reaction will strongly influence the other person - either to get angry back or say nothing next time. People seek confirmation of their own views, so if you really want other people's views, don't penalize them for not agreeing with you! Easier said than done. Create an atmosphere of partnership to reduce fear in subordinates. Promote a culture of constructive dissent - though not to the point of paralysis. Asking questions creates a dialogue - this does not mean asking only for facts. Involving questions ask what other parties want to achieve, what is important to them and what solutions they can suggest. Avoid the error of asking factual questions that are simply enable you to analyze situations on your own.