Communication simply refers to the transmission of information or knowledge from one person to another or from one place to another. As students of language and communication, however, it is a very shallow definition for us. Communication consists of not only a conversation between and among people. It rather encompasses a large area of research, ranging from a person’s bodily position to speed of pronunciation. As researchers, our focus should be more on the effectiveness of communication.
The effectiveness of communication can be judged by analyzing how well the information is received by the receiver. Mutual understanding between the sender and the receiver is the key to making an effective communication. During a communication process, we might face barriers on multiple occasions. Hence, our responsibility is to use communication skills to remove the barriers to effective communication. In order to make a communication effective from linguistic perspective, we have to thoroughly deal with minute details of communication process.
Moreover, it is equally important to study how elements of communication function. On the basis of multiple essays and articles, this research paper analyzes the process of making communication effective. In order to make the findings more systematic, it points out five basic steps which are endorsed by experts in the field of language and communication.
Active listening is probably the most important feature practiced by the experts of communication. However, it is applicable only when the communication is in spoken form.The self-help journal habits for wellbeing, under the title “Effective Communication Skills,” writes: “some ways to actively listen include: listen twice as much as you speak, listen with your whole body, be alert and interested in the other person, refrain from interrupting and reflecting back what you have heard.”
We often tend to focus more on what we should speak once our partner is done speaking. Effective communication, however, is more about listening and less about talking. While listening, we have to show interest in the person you are listening to. Otherwise, the communication partner will be offended and bored to speak. It is not good to interrupt very often except when we want in issue to be explained in more details. While interrupting we should be relevant. In another online journal, Helpguide.org, Lawrence Robinson et al. in their article “Effective Communication,” mentions:
There’s a big difference between engaged listening and simply hearing. When you really listen—when you’re engaged with what’s being said—you’ll hear the subtle intonations in someone’s voice that tell you how that person is feeling and the emotions they’re trying to communicate. When you’re an engaged listener, not only will you better understand the other person, you’ll also make that person feel heard and understood, which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between you (2-3).
When you listen to someone speaking you will, without doubt, hear them. Hearing is compulsory, but there is more to it. Only hearing does not make one an effective communicator. In order to be a good communicator, we should focus not only on the words our partner mentions. It is equally, if not more, important to understand the partner’s inner feelings. Whoever is communicating with us, we have to make them feel that they are heard and that their words matter. By this process, we can build stronger connection with our communicating partner
2. Paying Attention tal Signalso Non-verb
As much as the listening to the verbal sound, we should pay special attention to non-verbal signals as well. In his essay “Advanced Communication Skills,” Sean McPheat refers to Albert Mehrabian’s work on verbal and non-verbal communication when he asserts:
“he posed that the non-verbal aspects of communication such as tone of voice and non-verbal gestures communicate a great deal more than the words that are spoken. He also found that people are more likely to believe your non-verbal communication than your verbal communication if the two are contradictory” (17).
When someone says something without actually intending to say it, we can understand it from their tone of voice, gesture, physical position, eye contact, facial expression, etc. In order to understand their non-verbal aspects, we have to pay good attention so that we can assist them in the process of making the communication effective. Habits for wellbeing, further explains that when you are speaking you might not be aware of the meaning you are sending through your non-verbal behavior. We should be skillful in using non-verbal signals and let them follow our verbal communication. Hence, non-verbal activities also hold a huge responsibility in the process of making a communication effective.
Encouragement is a very important requisite for making any form of communication. We can and have to assist our communicating partner in the communication process by encouraging them to speak what they want to speak. We can encourage them in different ways. Van der Molen and Yvonne H. Gramsbergen – Hoogland in their essay “Review of Communication Basics,” say:
“By nodding and making supportive gestures with the hands and by avoiding nervous and distracting movements, you can show your attention, which will stimulate the speaker to continue talking” (69).
Here, we can refer to the earlier step of paying attention to non-verbal signals. Such signals have a very significant role in the communication process. When someone feels bored during a communication, we can use gestures and expressions to revitalize them and encourage them to further proceed with the communication. We can also encourage our partner by using short verbal reactions, for example, ‘uh-huh’, ‘yes. . . yes and then?’ etc.
4. Asking Questions
Asking questions is a very important part of communication process. When we ask questions, it shows that we are involved in the communication. Whenever we have difficulty in understanding what another person is saying it is necessary for us to ask questions so that we can avoid misunderstandings. Without being clear about a topic, we cannot answer or defend ourselves properly.
Hence, before saying anything we should be clear about the topic and for that we have to ask what our communication partner means by a particular statement. Depending on the context and the issue being discussed we can ask different types of questions like open-ended, closed, specific, visionary, etc.
5. Developing Trust and Rapport
Developing skills is probably more important and primary factor of communication process than any other steps. In order to make a communication effective, the first thing we have to do is to manage conducive environment. For that we have to develop trust and rapport with our communication partner. Without first trusting each other, formality only does not work in communication. Molen and Hoogland have provided six steps to building rapport which are as follows:
a) Match the person’s sensory modality
b) Mirror the person’s physiology
c) Match the person’s voice
d) Match the person’s breathing
e) Match the way the person deals with information
f) Match common experience (Molen and Hoogland 45-52).
He has focused more on the non-verbal activities of communication process. Following these steps will help us to trust that we belong together during a communication. We can use body language to show our support and we should observe another person’s body language to make sure whether we are in a right path. Moreover, we can share common experiences so that both parties will feel that they belong, and they can deliver their true feelings and emotions along with the words.
Any living creature is involved in communication. Human beings have the most superior form of communication. Even among the human beings, experts of language and communication are supposed to have special qualities for making any communication effective. Hence, in order to make a communication successful we have to follow certain rules though there is no universal constitution for that.
McPheat, Sean. “Introduction – Advanced Communication Skills.” Advanced Communication Skills. Compiled by MTD Training, 2010
Molen, Van der and Yvonne H. Gramsbergenne – Hoogland. “Review of Communication Basics.” Advanced Communication Skills. Compiled by MTD Training, 2010.
“9 Effective Communication Skills.” Habits for Wellbeing, 15 May 2018,
Robinson, Lawrence, and Jeanne Segal. “Effective Communication: Improving Communication Skills in Your Work and Personal Relationships.