19. Communication Skills

Communication (def.): the exchange of ideas, opinions, and information through written or spoken words, symbols, or actions.

Communication is the essence of life. It is a necessity. Human beings need to communicate to express themselves, and their feelings, pass on information to others, and share their thoughts.  

Communication may be intentional or unintentional, it may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or non-linguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes.  

Communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. For communication to be effective, the message must mean the same thing to both the sender and the receiver

Good communication in business is important because: 

  • without a proper interaction between the members of the team, a whole business strategy might be ruined 
  • it ensures a better development of ongoing projects 
  • it keeps employees engaged and allows everyone to understand their tasks 

People in organizations typically spend over 75% of their time in a social situation, communicating with one or a few others. It is therefore not a surprise to find that the root of many organizational problems is poor communication. Good communication may help increase job satisfaction, safety, productivity, and profits, and decrease grievances and turnover. 

Within the communication channels that are the means through which a message is sent to its intended receiver, business communications can be formal, informal, or unofficial. 

  • Verbal (oral/spoken) 
  • Non-verbal – appearance, body language, facial expressions, sounds (tone, speed, volume) 
  • Written – emails, texts, reports, newsletters) 
  • Electronic/Multimedia – social media, blogs, company webpages, TV broadcasts 
Type of channel Advantages Disadvantages
Oral communication Build relationships and trust; accelerate decision-making due to immediate feedback.  Its spontaneous nature may lead to unwise statements; people are unable to refer to the communication unless a record is made. 
Written communication Message can be revised for exactness; can be archived for reference; can be studied. Appropriate for legal and formal business functions.  The message is static; the sender does not receive immediate feedback. Hard for the sender to know if the receiver has understood. 
Multimedia Instant, global, and adaptable to multiple targets.  Technical difficulties and hack attacks threaten the security of organizations and their customers/clients. 

Barriers to communication 

Communication is a process beginning with a sender who encodes the message and passes it through some channel to the receiver who decodes the message. Communication is fruitful if and only if the messages sent by the sender are interpreted with the same meaning by the receiver 

Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message by continually checking to understand and by offering appropriate feedback.  

Examples of barriers: 

  • Jargon 
  • Lack of attention/interest 
  • Differences in viewpoint 
  • Physical disabilities 
  • Misreading non-verbal communication 
  • Power struggles 
  • Information overload 
  • Time pressure 
  • Distrust 
  • Lingual differences 
  • Prejudice 
  • Poor retention 
  • Gender barriers 
  • Cultural differences 

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