Communication Skills

Communication skills

Communication, at its simplest, is the act of transferring information from one place, person or group to another. Every communication involves (at least) one sender, a message and a recipient. This may sound simple, but it requires that all parties understand the language that is used. In practice, this means that the communication must be clear, precise, and effective. Communication skills are the tools we use to remove the barriers to effective communication. They encompass a range of abilities from speaking and listening to non-verbal cues such as body language and emotional intelligence. Mastering these skills can lead to successful interactions in every aspect of life, from personal relationships to professional engagements.


Communication is defined as the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. It involves a sender conveying a message to a receiver via various methods, whether through verbal or non-verbal means, such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language. The goal of communication is to ensure that the intended message is received and understood by the other party.

Importance of communication

  • Connection: It connects people, allowing for the sharing of ideas and building of relationships.
  • Expression: It enables individuals to express thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
  • Understanding: Through communication, we foster understanding and empathy among individuals.
  • Conflict Resolution: Effective communication is key to resolving conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Teamwork: It promotes teamwork by facilitating clear and open dialogue among team members.
  • Growth: Both personal and professional growth are driven by the ability to communicate effectively.

The communication process

  • Source: The source is the originator of the message or the person who has an idea to communicate.
  • Message: The message is the information, thoughts, or feelings that the source wants to convey.
  • Encoding: Encoding is the process by which the source translates the message into words, symbols, or gestures to communicate it effectively.
  • Channel: The channel is the medium through which the message is sent from sender to receiver. It could be verbal, written, electronic, or non-verbal.
  • Decoding: Decoding is the process by which the receiver interprets and tries to understand the message as intended by the sender.
  • Receiver: The receiver is the person or group for whom the message is intended.
  • Feedback: Feedback is the response of the receiver back to the sender. It indicates whether the message was understood as intended and can lead to further communication.
  • Context: Context refers to the environment or situation in which communication takes place. It can include cultural context, physical surroundings, and emotional states that can affect how messages are sent, received, and interpreted.

Barriers to communication

Barriers to communication are obstacles that can prevent messages from being understood correctly or even from being delivered at all.

  • Physiological Barriers: These can include disabilities such as hearing impairments, speech disorders, or vision impairments that physically prevent an individual from receiving or conveying a message effectively. For example, someone with a hearing impairment may not be able to hear spoken words clearly, leading to misunderstandings.
  • Physical Barriers: These are environmental factors that can impede communication. For instance, a noisy environment can make it difficult to hear someone speaking, while a poorly lit room can hinder visual communication like sign language or facial expressions.
  • Cultural Barriers: These arise from differences in cultural norms and values. For example, certain gestures considered polite in one culture may be offensive in another. Cultural barriers also include differing beliefs, behaviors, and customs that can lead to misinterpretation of messages.
  • Language Barriers: These occur when people do not speak the same language or when they use different dialects or jargon. Even within the same language, misunderstandings can arise from the use of slang, professional jargon, or regional accents.
  • Gender Barriers: Gender barriers stem from societal norms and roles associated with gender. For example, some people may have preconceived notions about how men and women should communicate and behave, which can lead to biased interpretations of messages.
  • Interpersonal Barriers: These are personal obstacles between individuals that can include prejudices, biases, or personality clashes. For instance, if two people have had a previous conflict, their personal feelings may interfere with their ability to communicate effectively.
  • Psychological Barriers: These include mental states such as stress, anxiety, or depression that can affect an individual’s ability to process information and communicate clearly. For example, someone who is stressed may have difficulty paying attention to what is being said.
  • Emotional Barriers: Strong emotions like anger or sadness can cloud judgment and lead to ineffective communication. For instance, someone who is angry might raise their voice or say things they don’t mean, which can escalate conflicts instead of resolving them.

Strategy to overcome communication barriers

  • Physiological Barriers: Use assistive technologies, such as hearing aids or speech-to-text software, and ensure clear visual aids for those with visual impairments.
  • Physical Barriers: Choose a quiet, private setting for important conversations and use technology to bridge distances, such as video conferencing.
  • Cultural Barriers: Develop cultural sensitivity, learn about different cultures, and use simple language to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Language Barriers: Use clear and simple language, avoid jargon, and consider using translation services when necessary.
  • Gender Barriers: Be aware of gender stereotypes and biases, and strive for inclusive language and behavior.
  • Interpersonal Barriers: Develop emotional intelligence, practice active listening, and build rapport to overcome personal biases and improve relationships.
  • Psychological Barriers: Encourage open communication, provide support for mental health issues, and create a safe space for sharing thoughts and feelings.
  • Emotional Barriers: Manage emotions through techniques like mindfulness or stress reduction exercises, and encourage expression in a controlled manner.

Perceptive in communication

Perception in communication refers to the process by which individuals interpret and make sense of the messages they receive. It is a subjective experience, influenced by one’s own beliefs, values, cultural background, past experiences, and current emotional state. This perceptual process determines how we understand and respond to communication, and it can significantly impact the effectiveness of the exchange. As such, being aware of the role perception plays in communication is crucial for ensuring that messages are not only delivered but also received as intended.

Visual Perception in communication involves the ability to interpret and understand visual information such as shapes, colors, spatial relationships, movement, and other visual attributes. It is how individuals recognize and organize visual stimuli to make sense of their surroundings. For example, in a presentation, the use of graphs and charts helps convey complex data in a visually digestible manner, aiding in better comprehension by the audience.

Language Perception, on the other hand, refers to the psychological processes involved in understanding spoken or written language. This includes isolating and segmenting words, phrases, and longer units from a stream of speech or text and attributing meaning to them. It is not just about hearing or seeing the words but also about understanding their intended meaning within a given context. For instance, when listening to someone speak, we automatically segment the continuous speech into recognizable words and phrases to grasp the message being conveyed.

Factors affecting perceptive

  • Past Experiences: Our experiences shape our expectations and assumptions. For instance, if someone has experienced betrayal in the past, they might interpret a friend’s late reply as a sign of disinterest or dishonesty, even if there’s a valid reason for the delay.
  • Prejudices: These are often based on stereotypes and can lead to unfair assessments. For example, if someone holds a prejudice against a particular profession, they might undervalue the communication coming from an individual of that profession.
  • Feelings and Emotions: Emotional states strongly influence our perception. Anger or sadness can make us more likely to perceive neutral comments as negative, whereas joy can make us overlook potential issues in communication.
  • Environment: A formal setting might lead us to interpret messages more seriously, while an informal setting might lead us to take things more lightly. Distractions in the environment can also lead to misinterpretation.
  • Health and Physiology: Fatigue can reduce our ability to focus on the message, leading to misinterpretation. Hearing loss or vision impairment can also affect how we receive and interpret messages.
  • Culture: Cultural differences can lead to different interpretations of the same message. For example, direct eye contact is seen as respectful in some cultures but may be perceived as aggressive in others.
  • Social/Professional Roles: A manager might interpret feedback differently than an intern would. The manager might see it as a reflection on their leadership skills, while the intern might view it as guidance for improvement.


Effective communication skills are essential for successful interactions. These skills are not just about conveying a message but also about understanding the various factors that influence how a message is received and interpreted. By being aware of the impact of past experiences, prejudices, emotions, environment, health, culture, and social roles on perception, individuals can tailor their communication approach to be more effective. Good communication skills involve active listening, empathy, clarity, and adaptability to these factors.

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