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Effective Communication: Barriers and Strategies

Effective Communication: Barriers and StrategiesPeople often don't realize that your voice inflection and body language are paramount in communication. Non-verbal and para-verbal communication make up 93% of any message received. This topic was presented at SpecTECHular by Karianne Brooks, and it discusses how to make the most out of communication, with a focus on making sure our non-verbal communication parallels the message we are intending to deliver.

What is the one thing people do more than they do anything else? Communicate!

In fact, even when we’re silent we’re usually communicating something. Learning how to “listen” with your eyes to the things people communicate without words enables you to develop deeper and better understanding of them. Learning to intentionally communicate specific messages with methods other than speech often makes you much more effective and impactful in communicating your messages.

Effective Communication: Listening

You may have heard it sung differently in a song from the ‘60’s, but it was Edgar Allan Poe who originally said, “Believe Nothing You Hear, and Only One Half That You See” in his short story “Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether” way back in 1845.

Let’s take that apart a bit. What happens if you really do decide to believe nothing that you hear? Probably not much! In fact, only 7% of what people communicate is spoken verbally. So, if you believe none of it, you still have the majority of the message to consider.

Before you go deciding that the telephone is useless because all you get is 7% of the meaning, let’s also note that 38% of the message comes across in the way things are said, which is the para-verbal component of the communication. When someone starts speaking very quickly, we know they’re excited, frustrated, or otherwise highly emotional. When the pitch of their voice gets way up high we almost immediately know they’re agitated or in pain. When they whisper, we sense that they’re taking us into their confidence.

Just changing which word gets emphasized in a sentence completely changes its meaning. Say the following sentence out loud, putting the emphasis on the underlined word:

I didn’t say you were wrong”

“I didn’t say you were wrong”

“I didn’t say you were wrong

People usually know when our voices are dripping with sarcasm, no matter which words are spoken. We all use and evaluate para-verbal cues all the time.

Effective Communication: Speaking with More Meaning

When people wish to emphasize or bring more meaning to what they’re saying they add para-verbal and non-verbal components to their communication.

For example, a friend can tell you that they’re sorry. To emphasize how sorry they are, they may put a hand on your shoulder. If they are angry with you, they may add well-known hand gestures to their communication. Posture speaks volumes, too. When someone stands in front of you with their arms crossed you know they’re showing you how receptive they are not.

Most people exhibit these behaviors unconsciously. An astute reader of para-verbal and non-verbal cues can often learn much more about the person by “listening” to all of these in addition to the words themselves.

Turning the communication around, a person well-trained in para-verbal and non-verbal actions can easily improve the quality of their communications to promote far better understanding among those listening to them. People react well to a smile, so if you’re seeking a good reaction, smile! If you wish to increase the listener’s discomfort, simply stand much closer to them when speaking to them. Your invasion of their personal space will be perceived on a visceral level.

Para-verbal cues can often be considered spoken punctuation, and should be intentionally employed to increase understanding among your listeners.

Become Self-Conscious

While we’ve spoken about listening to more of the message by watching para-verbal and non-verbal cues, and how we can use para-verbal and non-verbal communications to improve our ability to convey a message effectively, the other thing to consider is how conscious you currently are of your messaging. What does your posture, your gestures, your facial expressions, your tone of voice, and much more, convey about you and what you’re saying? Always be aware of how you are presenting yourself. Become self-conscious in this all-too-important way. It is all too easy to communicate the wrong message when your actions conflict with your words. Remember, actions speak louder.

Posted on 11/20/18 7:09 AM by Get Schooled in CLD

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