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Communication Today

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Communication Today


Do you think communication is a No-Brainer? Communication is consistently listed as one of the keys to success in business and life, and just as frequently identified by employees as a key missing link to maximum productivity and job satisfaction. We communicate every day verbally and nonverbal to co-workers, to people on the phone, and to our family. We've been communicating since the day we were born. Actually, we were communicating before we were born, in our mother's womb. What is communication? Communication is the process of constructing meaning together. We live in a world of meaning, and communication is the process of collaboratively constructing these meanings. We hope in this process, that presenting something to other individuals that we are getting our ideas across precisely. We would hope that through this process the receiver would be able to translate our messages into ideas. Unfortunately there are a lot of barriers to this process. I will be discussing four different topics, verbal & nonverbal communication, perception, listening, and self-disclosure. Through the presentation of these topics, I will demonstrate several ways in which we can communicate among ourselves more effectively. This paper will demonstrate how we can become more effective as communicators, and to be able to apply the four topics covered.

Verbal communication includes anything written, or spoken. Nonverbal communication includes eye contact, body movement, facial expression, tone of voice, touch, silence, and several different expressions. This book discusses verbal & nonverbal communication jointly. It has become obvious that you can't really separate the verbal & nonverbal parts. As stated by D.J. Higginbotham & D.E. Yoder, "It is impossible to study either verbal or nonverbal communication as isolated structures. Rather, these systems should be regarded as a unified communication construct."

One example that the author s John Stewart & Carole Logan use is that language be regarded in terms of a sliding scale. The main communication blocks on a sliding scale that runs from primarily verbal (written words) to mixed (vocal pacing, pause, loudness, pitch, and silence), to primarily nonverbal (gestures, eye gaze, facial expression, touch, and space). The degree that you can isolate the words speakers use, they might be considered primarily verbal, but spoken words always come with vocal pacing, pause, loudness, pitch and silence, and as a result these are labeled mixed. Gestures, eye gaze, facial expression, touch, and space are labeled primarily nonverbal because they occur without words, but they are usually interpreted in the context of spoken words. This is why language is considered soup. As humans, we're immersed in language beginning at birth and ending at death, like a fish is immersed in water. This soup includes all of the verbal & nonverbal parts of our communicative life. Language is more than a system we use or an activity we perform it is a subject that we manipulate or use.

Movements and gestures reflect the type of relationship that exists between individuals. When communicating with people, I have a tendency of crossing my arms across my chest and slightly leaning away from them. It's a habit that I don't even realize I do. When I cross my arms I feel like I create a negative attitude. I need to practice leaning forward, and letting the individual know that I am truly interested in what they have to say. Crossing my arms and leaning backward is just one example of how body movements and gesture make up still another important category of nonverbal communication.

When we perceive we select, organize, and make meaning out of the things and events we see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Language and perception are thoroughly interrelated. This means that everything that we perceive, all the things that make up our world is affected by the language in which we live.

The author, Julia T. Wood, uses the word 'Totalizing' in her reading It's Only Skin Deep. She describes this word, as communication that emphasizes one aspect of a person is the totality of that person. Wood makes the point that totalizing has negative effects on both those who do it and those who are its targets.

Once we totalize we tend to perceive others through the labels we use to describe them. Once we refer to someone as being overweight our tendency is to fill in the rest of those persons features that may or may not be parts of whom the individual really is (an example might be that the person is lazy and undisciplined). Once we group individuals into groups, we tend to think about them in terms of our stereotypes, regardless of their unique qualities and talents. Their individuality is lost, and is submerged in our preconceptions of the group to which we assign them.

When we feel like we are the ones that are being 'totalized' we become offended and resentful. In this article, Wood uses Spike Lee as an example. Lee states'

'I want to be known as a talented young filmmaker. That should be first. But the reality is that no matter how successful you are, you're black first.'

The misunderstanding of identity and achievement is offensive. It is easier to think of Spike Lee as black than to try to perceive him as a unique individual who is ' male, young, a filmmaker, educated, and African American.

As discussed above there are negative effects on those parties that are being stereotyped and those that are doing the stereotyping. Unfortunately, these feelings create barriers, to open healthy communication and comfortable relationships. We have an individual at work that has had a gender change from a gentleman to a woman. I don't even know this individual but I already have her stereotyped as strange, gay, or bisexual situation). I'm not even aware of this person accomplishments or expertise. I only see this individual as odd and not fitting in. There are a lot of people at work that do not understand the situation, me being one of them. Unfortunately, this creates a barrier to an open and comfortable relationship. I'm sure this individual has a lot to offer our organization, but we limit what we can gain from this individual by setting up these barriers.

Listening is the process of discriminating and identifying which sounds are meaningful or important to us and which are not. It is an active process that requires participation to fully understand the meaning of the communication. A common misconception about listening is that it is natural. The assumption that it is natural arises partly because we confuse the process of hearing with the process of listening. Listening is an essential skill for making and keeping relationships. There are several conversations that have taken place where the listener didn't "hear" what was said. The sound may have reached their ears, but they do not remember what was said because they were paying attention to something else at the time. Research indicates that only 25% of what a person hears is remembered. Effort can improve this rate, but it's most effective to get some listening training aimed at both attitudes and skills and then to practice what we've learned to make it habitual. Listening is hard work, but if we perfect our listening skills rewards will ...

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