Communication is key in life. We go throughout our day using different forms of communication to get to where we want to go, express how we feel, what we think and so on. There are very few times when we stop to think about the depth of how important it is to communicate clearly. PSU lesson 4 defines communication as, “the exchange of information between individuals. That information is then used to make decisions that will affect the present and the future of the people involved in communicating those ideas.” (PSU, L.4, p. 1) The way we communicate with others can affect the way those other people see us, can make an impact on forwarding movement in a career, influence the choices others will make etc., this is why It is important to think about the way we communicate with those around us.
“Think before you speak,” is a quote we probably heard, from our parents or anyone else who influenced our lives growing up too many times. But they’re right. It is important to assess who we are communicating with and how to do so before communicating. “The most common assumption is projective cognitive similarity; that is, one assumes that the other perceives, judges, thinks and reasons the same way he or she does.” (Moran, p.77) We are all different and because of that, we all communicate and absorb information differently.
For instance, if someone’s communication style is low- context, “a more direct form of communication” (Moran, p.43), and they are speaking to someone whose communication style is high -context, “uses more vague forms of communication,” (Moran, p.43) there will more than likely be a huge misunderstanding and you run the risk of one or both parties getting offended. One person would be used to receiving more information, while the other is assuming the person they’re speaking to knows what they’re talking about. This can lead to a break in friendship, dispute amongst a couple in a relationship, or even a lost opportunity in closing a business deal.
Growing up I was told that there is a difference between hearing someone say something and listening to someone say something. You can hear what someone is saying yet not pay attention to most if anything they have said. “Listening is at the heart of all successful communication.” (Moran, p. 39) When you listen you are intentionally being present. You are paying attention to what is being said, processing it and understanding the information that is given. Combining information gathering and active listening can help us in understanding better which will then allow us to communicate how we feel or what we think after receiving the information. Information gathering allows us to take in the information given to us on both levels, verbally and non-verbally. While active listening allows us to show the person/people giving us the information that we understand.
In possessing the ability to show someone that you understand what they are saying, allows the other party to correct any misinterpretations or reiterate any missed information. This allows for a better understanding of both sides and can build a stronger relationship. The best thing to do is to try to set all stereotypes and assumptions of the person or group you are communicating with aside. “Correct assumptions facilitate communication, but incorrect assumptions lead to misunderstandings, and miscommunication often result.” (Moran, p.76) If we place our assumptions in our back pocket, we are in a sense disarming ourselves. We will be less likely to get offended, less likely to assume and would be quicker to ask for clarification or see things in a different light.
Communication is key. The more we program ourselves to put others first and listen, as oppose to letting ourselves get in the way, the better we will get an enhancing our communication skills.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences (9th ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Pennsylvania State University (2019). Leadership in a Global Context – OLEAD410. Lesson 04: Global Communication, Penn State World Campus, The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved September 22, 2019, from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2008449/modules/items/27026949