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The Five Communication Principles for a Lifetime

1. Be aware of Your Communication

Much research has been done to try to break down interpersonal communication into a number of elements in order that it can be more easily understood. Commonly these elements include:


The Communicators - For any communication to occur there must be at least two

people involved. It is easy to think about communication involving a sender and a receiver of a message. However, the problem with this way of seeing a relationship is that it presents communication as a one-way process where one person sends the message and the other receives it. In fact communications are almost always complex, two-way processes, with people sending and receiving messages to and from each other. In other words, communication is an interactive process. b. The Message - Message not only means the speech used or information conveyed,

but also the non-verbal messages exchanged such as facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures and body language. Non-verbal behaviour can convey additional information about the message spoken. c. Noise - Noise has a special meaning in communication theory. It refers to anything

that distorts the message, so that what is received is different from what is intended by the speak. The use of complicated jargon, inappropriate body language, inattention, disinterest, and cultural differences can be considered 'noise' in the context of interpersonal communication. d. Context - All communication is influenced by the context in which it takes place.

However, apart from looking at the situational context of where the interaction takes place, for example in a room, office, or perhaps outdoors, the social context also needs to be considered, for example the roles, responsibilities and relative status of the participant.

2. Effectively Use and Understand Verbal Messages

a. Make eye contact - Whether you are speaking or being spoken to, looking into the eyes of the person you are in conversation with can make the experience much more successful. Eye contact conveys interest, and encourages your partner to be interested in you in return. b. Be aware of what your body is saying - Body language can say so much more than a mouthful of words. An open stance with arms easily to your side tells anyone you are talking to that you are approachable and open to hearing what they have to say. c. Have courage to say what you think - Take time each day to be aware of your opinions and feelings. When you are aware of what you believe on a certain issue, you can better convey those thoughts to others. Individuals who are hesitant to speak because they do not feel they have worthwhile opinions need not fear: what is important or worthwhile to one person may not be to another and may be more so to someone else. d. Practice - Communication skills can be practiced every day in settings that range from the more social to the more professional. New skills take time to refine, but each time you use your communication skills you open yourself to opportunities and future friendships.

3. Effectively Use and Understand Non-Verbal Messages

Non-verbal communication is the act of saying what's on your mind without speaking words. Many times the tone of your voice can reflect non-verbal communication as well. For instance, if you are saying one thing, but your tone of voice is saying another, then that reflects how you are truly feeling without speaking a word about it (yelling and crying while saying your okay). Many times we are not aware that non-verbal communication is a part of the definition of communication. a. Proxemics:- Proxemics takes into account body spacing and postures as involuntary

reactions to sensory fluctuations. According to Proxemics, the physical distance between two people can be correlated to the relationship they share be it personal or social. b. Chronemics:- According to Chronemics, the timing and frequency of any action as

well as the tempo of communications within an interaction contribute to the process of nonverbal communication. Time perceptions can be expressed through punctuality, willingness to wait, speed of speech or even the amount of time people are willing to listen. c. Kinesics:- Kinesics studies include the study of following elements:i. Posture:- Body posture says a lot about a persons degree of attention or involvement, the difference in status between communicators, and also the level of fondness a person has for the other one. Posture can be studied through various indicators like direction of lean, body orientation, arm position, and overall body movement. ii. Gestures:- A thumbs up, or a simple wave of the hand says so much. Gestures form an integral part of non-verbal communication. Gestures allow us to express a variety of emotions and thoughts like contempt, hostility, approval, affection etc. d. Haptics:- Haptics refers to the study of touching as a tool of nonverbal

communication. The various forms of touching that can be included in non-verbal communication include handshakes, holding, etc. The meaning conveyed from a touch is however highly dependent upon several other factors like the context of the situation or even the relationship between communicators.

Oculesics:- Oculesics is the study of the role of eyes in nonverbal communication.

Eye contact can indicate a lot of emotions ranging from interest, attention, and involvement.

A simple gaze is comprised of the actions of looking while talking, while listening, or even while observing.

4. Listen and Respond Thoughtfully

Listening and responding skills are very important for every individual, no matter their age or walk of life. They are essential to education, career and work-related situations, social activities and interpersonal relationships and just as important to everyday life.


Listening Skills
It's one thing to hear the sound of someone talking. It's another thing to pay attention

to what they are communicating, absorb the information and respond appropriately. This is listening vs. merely hearing. Listening skills are the first step to understanding another person and where they are coming from. In a classroom setting, listening skills allow a student to grasp the concepts that the teacher is trying to convey, rather than being distracted and therefore unable to properly respond.


Responding Skills

i. Be Descriptive :- When responding to someone, you let them know that you have paid attention to what they said and understand what they are trying to communicate. Formulate a clear response and express it in an appropriate way. ii. Be Timely :- Response should be quick and timely so that communicating parties are in sync with each other during the entire course of communication. iii. Be Brief :- Response should be concise and to the point iv. Be Useful :- Response should be value add to the communication and should not be redundant or repeated information. v. Be Active & Confident :- Need to be active and confident throughout the course of communication. Confidence is important to responding skills because worrying about what you're going to say or how you'll sound is detrimental to good communication.


Responding With Empathy

We all want to be listened to. It is insulting to be ignored or neglected. We all know

what it means to listen, to really listen. It is more than hearing the words; it is truly understanding and accepting the other person's message and also his/her situation and feelings. Empathizing means listening so intently and identifying so closely that you experience the other person's situation, thoughts and emotions. It shows you care and that you understood the other person. Thus, people will enjoy talking to you and will open up more. a. Emotional Intelligence :- Emotional intelligence is an awareness of your actions and feelings and how they affect those around you. It also means that you value others, listen to their wants and needs, and are able to empathize or identify with them on many different levels. b. Understand Your Partners Feelings :- One clear way you can respond to a person with empathy is to truly imagine what life would be like if you were dealing with their problem.

c. Ask Appropriate Questions :- Asking the right question is at the heart of effective communications and information exchange. By using the right questions in a particular situation, you can improve a whole range of communications skills: for example, you can gather better information and learn more; you can build stronger relationships, manage people more effectively and help others to learn too. If you ask the wrong questions, you'll probably get the wrong answer, or at least not quite what you're hoping for. d. Paraphrase the Content :- Paraphrasing the content involves using other words to reflect what the speaker has said. Paraphrasing shows not only that you are listening, but that you are attempting to understand what the speaker is saying. The objective of paraphrasing is to make the other person understand that you have completely comprehended the matter. e. Paraphrase Emotions :-Paraphrasing emotions shows the speaker that you are trying to perceive the world as they see it and that you are doing your best to understand their messages. This tends to encourage them to continue talking.

5. Appropriately Adapt Messages

Audience analysis involves identifying the audience and adapting a speech to their interests, level of understanding, attitudes, and beliefs. Taking an audience-centered approach is important because a speakers effectiveness will be improved if the presentation is created and delivered in an appropriate manner. Factors in Audience Analysis a. Audience expectations - When people become audience members in a speech situation, they bring with them expectations about the occasion, topic, and speaker. Violating audience expectations can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the speech. b. Knowledge of topic - Audience knowledge of a topic can vary widely on any given occasion; therefore, communicators should find out what their audience already knows about the topic. Never overestimate the audiences knowledge of a topic . c. Attitude toward topic - Knowing audience members attitudes about a topic will help a speaker determine the best way to reach their goals. Imagine that a presenter is

trying to convince the community to build a park. A speaker would probably be inclined to spend the majority of the speech giving reasons why a park would benefit the community. d. Audience size - Many elements of speech-making change in accordance with audience size. In general, the larger the audience the more formal the presentation should be. Sitting down and using common language when speaking to a group of 10 people is often quite appropriate. However, that style of presentation would probably be inappropriate or ineffective if you were speaking to 1,000 people. e. Demographics - The demographic factors of an audience include age, gender, religion, ethnic background, class, sexual orientation, occupation, education, group membership, and countless other categories. Since these categories often organize individuals identities and experiences, a wise speaker attends to them. Politicians usually pay a great deal of attention to demographic factors when they are on the campaign trail. If a politician speaks in Day County, Florida (the county with the largest elderly population) they will likely discuss the issues that are more relevant to people in that age range Medicare and Social Security.

f. Setting - The setting of a presentation can influence the ability to give a speech and the audiences ability and desire to listen. Some of these factors are: the set-up of the room (both size and how the audience is arranged), time of day, temperature, external noises (lawn mowers, traffic), internal noises (babies crying, hacking coughs), and type of space (church, schoolroom, outside).