It becomes essential to communicate effectively to others for progress in academics, professional domains as well as to improve interpersonal relationships. At times we are misunderstood partially or even completely. In both cases the purpose of communication is defeated.

Difficulties that hinder effective communication

Very often a message is distorted, for example, some people may change facts and say things to please their boss. People also are selective in terms of their perception, what they see and hear is based upon their needs, motivation, experience, and personal characteristics. While decoding a message people may project their interests and expectations. People have a limited capacity to process incoming information, when the information is too much information overload takes place.

Then people tend to select, ignore, pass over or forget information. Further, when we are emotional, such as sad, angry, or very excited, then we are likely to miss out some information. Finally, words mean differently to different people. Language usage is influenced by age, gender and the cultural background.

Features of Effective Communication

Common frame of reference: The sender and the receiver should interact at a common level of understanding. When a mother speaks to her child she uses words which are present in the child’s vocabulary e.g. a scolding tone, if the child has been naughty or a concerned tone when the child is unwell. But while speaking to her sister she will use different words, phrases and tones depending upon the context. Thus a common level of understanding is essential for effective communication.

Mutual interest: Contents of the communication must be of mutual interest to the sender and receiver. For a farmer how the Stock Market operates is of no interest as his concern is about the quality of seeds and manure or the effect of climate changes on the crops.

Common Language: Language is the strongest means of verbal communication. A common language ensures effective communication. Because it ensures minimum misunderstanding of words, phrases, idioms and proverbs.

Common environment: People from similar backgrounds understand the message without much problem. Thus common nationality, economic status, culture, social interests, age group and professions are some examples.

Tips on how verbal communication can be made more effective:

  • Improve language by reading and listening
  • Work on voice modulation, tone and pronunciation
  • Think and then speak
  • Do not speak fast or too loudly
  • Learn about culturally sensitive words, signs and contexts for different cultures

In order to improve your body language, remember to:

  • Keep the appropriate distance, particularly with reference to culture, gender and authority figures.
  • Touch only if required, or necessary.
  • Maintain eye contact in an interview situation, and be sensitive if such a communication is frowned upon by a culture.
  • Look presentable and confident.

Verbal and non-verbal communication together provide a powerful medium of communication. If used properly and carefully, effective communication can convey the message immediately. Advertisers make use of effective communication to make people buy certain products.