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The Importance of Effective Communication

two people communicating in an office

As humans, we are drawn to one another and communicate with each other in a variety of capacities.  There are several roles that each individual fills on a daily basis, depending on the context of an interaction. What every interaction has in common is the need for clear and effective communication. There are several elements that are involved in creating and maintaining lasting and genuine relationships through communication, two of which are recognizing body language cues and using effective listening skills. In correctly making use of these elements, one can see an improvement in the quality of social interactions, as well as increased confidence in engaging with others in a social capacity. These benefits can be essential tools in securing a job or building lasting relationships.

Body Language

One of the most important factors in communicating with others is our nonverbal communication. We are aware and in control of the words that we speak, but often the nonverbal cues we send may go unnoticed. According to an article by Amy Lucas on Livestrong.com, “We can reinforce, contradict, substitute, complement, or emphasize our verbal communication with non-verbal cues such as gestures, expressions and vocal inflection.” Nonverbal cues are so strong because they communicate to others on a subconscious level, causing individuals to regard nonverbal communication as “true” communication because it provides real cues and emotions. When verbal language and body language are congruent, this works to enhance the overall quality of the message and allow it to resonate with the individual receiving the message. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there can also be a sense of mistrust developed when body language does not match up to what is being verbalized. When there is a lack of congruence between verbal and nonverbal messages, this acts as a mental red flag to anybody receiving the message, and causes them to be on guard. Body language also works to display confidence and other desirable traits. In the case of a potential job opportunity, displaying confidence can be the driving factor in whether an employee gets hired or not. Likewise, as an employer, it is essential to let applicants know that you are confident in the company and work you do.

Displaying Effective Listening Skills

Communication goes beyond the messages we send – it also includes how we receive messages. If we simply “hear” what individuals tell us, then we miss out on a vast array of messages directed at us. Listening is an active process that involves analysis and processing. There are key verbal elements that can alert us to an individual’s feelings, such as the cadence of their voice, the specific words that they use, and the tonal quality of their voice. In addition to these verbal indicators, there are also a number of nonverbal indicators, such as the body language previously discussed. When listening, it is important to consider both these nonverbal and verbal cues as they lead to a true understanding of the message that is being delivered. According to a Forbes article by Dianne Schillingthere are 10 steps to effective listening, number five is, “Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your ‘solutions.’” This is especially important in maintaining effective communication skills because it places emphasis on the speaker and becomes the listener’s responsibility to establish and maintain an understanding of the delivered message. This, in turn, opens up more communication channels for messages to appropriately be communicated through.

Benefits of Effective Communication

When communication is effective, it leaves all parties involved satisfied and feeling accomplished. By delivering messages clearly, there is no room for misunderstanding or alteration of messages, which decreases the potential for conflict. In situations where conflict does arise, effective communication is a key factor to ensure that the situation is resolved in a respectful manner. How one communicates can be a make or break factor in securing a job, maintaining a healthy relationship, and healthy self expression.

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