What Is Communication?
Ever since that never to be forgotten day, millenniums past, when a creature crawling out from the sea decided to snarl at another creature trying to snatch away a potential dinner, the idea of communication between living beings has become an innately instinctive part of the social, physical, mental, and emotional fabric of thinking, and feeling, living creatures. Not only is this medium of communication vocal, but it is also through gestures, your body language, your facial expressions, “words left unsaid,” and other ways and means in which you can get your meaning across to the listener or viewer. So here is some information about the different types of communication mediums, used naturally by all of us, from day go itself. Well, then, what is communication, proper interpersonal communication, exactly?
Natural verbal communication started the moment we protested volubly as we entered a brightly lit world with a really loud noisy appreciative audience making us feel all helpless, flabbergasted, dismayed and bewildered. It took us a couple of days to understand that those noisy beings around us were the creatures who fed us whenever we howled, cleaned us whenever we bawled, cherished us whenever we waved our hands and feet about, and gurgled in admiration whenever we made any sort of gesture, sound, or action, which they considered so absolutely sweet. This verbal communication is still being done by us today, accompanied by facial gestures, and supporting activities using our hands and feet, to emphasise the spoken word.
Now let us take an example of verbal communication and its supporting non-verbal communication methods. If the boss is really irritated as something stupid that you or I have done, he is going to reinforce his displeasure by gritting his teeth, shaking his head, looking at the ceiling, rolling his eyes, snorting or possibly just closing his eyes, and praying for patience. That should give the onlooker an idea that he is seriously displeased. On the other hand, if he says something like “Well done, really well done, absolutely, marvellously ruddy well done,” and then places his head in his hands and weeps long and loud in despair, what is one supposed to do when faced with such contradicting words and body language? Well, that shows that his method of communication was verbal as well as non-verbal, with his using his communication skills to emphasise, stress, underline, accentuate and reiterate his displeasure.
The proper use and understanding of body language for communication is naturally an important part of improving your communication skills. A person lying to you is definitely not going to meet your eyes. He is also going to make emphatic statements like, “I honestly have not been in touch with her, you need to believe me…” “I really did not eat that last bit of chocolate cake, really, truly I did not, you know I would not lie to you,… “And so on. That is because a person who is not used to lying, is subconsciously trying to prove to himself that he really did not do the action of which he has been accused. Ae is trying to put up a defensive measure against his protesting conscience by autosuggesting himself into believing that what he is saying is the truth. But his body and mind are not going to accept this idea, physically, psychologically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. So he is going to fidget, not meet your eyes or look out of the corners of his eyes to see whether you are “buying” it. On the other hand, seasoned liars are going to look straight at you, widen their eyes innocently and continue to lie their heads off. Thus, understanding body language properly is necessary for you to recognise the underlying sentiment which makes a person “say” what he is saying, and then see if the body language is conflicting against the spoken word.
Now, what is the importance of your making sure that the idea which you are trying to convey to your listener is being understood properly? That is, of course, the first priority of a person who is trained to communicate with the people around him. For that, it is necessary that you change your intonation, make your body language more positive or negative (as the situation demands), pause between sentences in order to let the other person speak, and respond after you have listened to his speech, and watch the facial expressions, body language, voice quality, intonation, and visual cues given by him. All of these taken together and processed by your brain are going to give you an inkling of what he wants to communicate with you and whether he has understood what you have communicated with, and to him.
So what is communication all about? It means that you are putting the right emphasis on and utilising all your senses in listening, seeing, hearing, understanding, and then assimilating the facts in a systematic manner. It is only after the processing of the available information is done by your brain and the ideas received are assimilated properly, that you should think up a proper response. Do not jump the gun; that means that your brain has immediately decided upon a preconceived notion, which may possibly be wrong. On the other hand, if you are not quite “on the ball ” and have missed a number of cues, you are going to wake up at midnight, thinking about the best possible, the most reasonable, witty, adequate and to the point responses and conclusions, which could have possibly won a laugh, defused a possibly explosive situation, got your meaning across, and helped you communicate better with the people around you. Ah, well, you are 8 hours too late and how you regret not being able to have responded aptly to some particular bon mot, question, response, witticism…Do not worry; it happens to the best of us.
So it is only by communicating with the people around us, verbally, non-verbally and constantly, and by listening, watching, hearing and then assimilating the information given to us, that we can hone our communication skills.