Communication is a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange information, news, ideas and feelings, but also create and share meaning. It is simply a way of connecting to people and places. It is important to note that we spend 85% of our average working time communicating, either verbally or non-verbally. “I have a feeling that, we need to become excellent at what we spend most of our time doing” remarked Joseph one of the RAN 2016 Student Interns.
I will start with the non-verbal communication which includes; the tone, speed, pitch, volume of the voice, gestures and facial expressions, body postures, eye movement and contact, dress code and appearance. These things mentioned above deem the expression “actions speak louder than words” valid, because they speak tones about someone. For example, one can easily identify or tell that you are angry by the tone of your voice, even if you are wearing a smile on your face. Likewise, one is most likely to guess the kind of a person you are by a mere look at your dress code and the way you carry yourself (your attitude speaks volumes of words). Individuals can actually decide how we are perceived by “branding” ourselves, it doesn’t take a lot of Effort! For instance when you are smart and gentle you are most likely to command respect at first glance.
Several people are more conversant with verbal communication especially that it is used during conversations, however, it is important to remember the give and take effect which is necessary here, incorporating listening and talking. Sometimes we talk a lot, which mostly becomes boring to our listeners. When holding a conversation, it is healthy for the speaker to pause and ask his or her listeners “Is there anything you would like me to clarify?” keeping eye contact with your listeners, expressing yourself in a simple and clear way fosters a strong, enjoyable and flowing conversation. It shows that you care and are interested in your listeners, and so they will naturally pick interest in what you have to say too.
Active listening is also crucial in verbal communication. The reason why we have two ears and one mouth is to emphasize the need to listen twice as much as we talk. Listening involves keeping eye contact with the speaker, using body language like nodding your heading when a strong point is mentioned, saying such words as “yes I get it”, “I understand”, asking questions for clarification are signs of acknowledgement showing the speaker that you are actually understanding and interested in what he or she is trying to communicate. However, many questions tend to divert the interest of the conversation from what the speaker has to say, to what the listener wants to hear. In the end, the speaker might forget some of the things he wanted to say, which is not good. This is something we all need to take care of as we communicate.
It is also important that we spend some time emphasizing the best ways we can use communication to get our businesses to the next level. Harriet Adong, the Communications Manager at ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) emphasizes that “If we do not shout about what we are doing, no one gets to know about it and thus we are equivalent to doing nothing.” Therefore, communication helps our businesses to get known pivoting their growth. The role of the media in escalating the message can never go unnoticed.
Lately, social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Websites among others have become the easiest way to communicate. Let us embrace the use of short text messages, informative videos and talking photos to drive our messages home (note that visual elements like videos and photos speak louder than words or text). Branding is an important element in communication, a brand is built one step at a time, and once done, maintain consistency so that you or your organization is always known for something particular. Do not forget to develop and use brochures, pull-up banners, and teardrops among other Information Education and Communication materials. All these can be developed as per need.
When we are getting our businesses and selves known, a strong pitch is vital. Highlight the background, problem (the gap to be filled), and the proposed solution. Remember that a pitch is a short and smart summary enhanced by visuals (photos and short videos).
The telephone is one gadget which has become part and parcel of human life. Overall, majority own and use a handset but how do we use the telephones at our disposal? Mind your volume (no one enjoys repeating one statement several times), do not place your telephone on the table while meeting others (it might mean that you value that expected telephone call more than the discussions in the meeting), and in case it is necessary to put your caller on loud speaker, please let them know.
While using Emails note that we all ought to use professional Email addresses not firstname.lastname@example.org, use exclamation marks sparingly (at least once), think twice before hitting the reply button because no one wants to read twenty emails with nothing directly concerning them and take care not to over express yourself-humor (do not show over excitement, written and spoken humor may sound different, better to physically express it).
Additionally, while using short text messages, better to first know the person you are texting (never text a stranger or someone you have never met physically), keep it short or rather call or email the person, do not share sad news via short messages because this usually creates a lot of anxiety, be careful while using abbreviations you might miss our effectively communicating and do not reschedule meeting times via messaging participants may not have time to read that text, just call-up everyone.
When on Skype call, do not gesture a lot and in case you are using a camera on your laptop, ensure that you look into the camera as this is equivalent to keeping eye contact and expresses attention.
I believe that with everyone equipped with communication skills, interaction and conversation will be more fulfilling and mutual. It is also satisfactory being excellent at something we spend most of our time doing-communication. “Thanks a lot Madam Harriet for the session we had with you on Communication Etiquette, I really like the way you held everyone engaged in the session, very attentive and active” Owen Monica. “Thank you very much for this training and interaction but most importantly for spearing your valuable time to come and talk to us. It was really a great learning opportunity and I hope that this will continue because you are a great resource that we students need to have direct access to. Have a great day Madam Harriet ” Peter Ogwok Baguma RAN Student Intern 2016.
By Owen Monica
In her Senior Six Vacation and benefiting from the RAN 2016 Internship Program