Lecture notes Communication skills

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Amoud University Communication skills For Undergraduates Lecture Notes Juliana 4/9/2016 AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” Chapter One Communication Skills Introduction Communication is a key element in any human activity. Communication is a learned skill. However, while most people are born with the physical ability to talk, not all can communicate well unless they make special efforts to develop and refine this communication skill. Very often, we take the ease with which we communicate with each other for granted, so much so that we sometimes forget how complex the communication process actually is. Communication takes place when we are supposedly at the same level of understanding and comprehension as other interlocutors. Common forms of communication include speaking, writing, gestures, touch, using pictures and broadcasting. Communication is therefore not what is said whether verbally or non-verbally, but what is understood. What is communication? Communication is a word derived from the Latin word communis or commūnicāre, which means ‘to make common’ or ‘to share’. Communication is the act of conveying intended meaning to another person through the use of mutually understood signs and language. Communication is the art of transmitting information, ideas and attitudes from one person to another. Communication is the process of meaningful interaction among human beings. The basic steps of communication are: the forming of communicative intent, message composition, message encoding, and transmission of signal, reception of signal, message decoding and finally interpretation of the message by the recipient. Page 2 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another. When you call or talk verbally to your friend, then you are said to be communicating with your friend. Characteristics of Communication The characteristics of communication include: 1. Communication is a process: Communication is a 2 way process which involves; listening to others (Receiving) message Asserting/Expressing (Sending). 2. Communication is a dynamic: it is ever changing depending on the variables at play. 3. . Communication is a complex a process. 4. Communication is a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information but also create and share meaning. 5. Communication involves the sharing of information using a code. 6. Communication occurs between people and sometimes animals 7. Communication is irreversible: once one has communicated something it cannot be recalled back. 8. Communication is a system 9. Communication must have the elements of communication: Source, receiver, channel, message, noise, feedback. 10. Communication can be verbal/ non verbal or visual. 11. Communication can be accidental especially in non-verbal Functions of communication Human beings communicate for various reasons. Here are some of the reasons why we must communicate: Page 3 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” 1. To change in behavior 2. To influence others 3. To express our thoughts and emotions through words & actions. 4. It is a tool for controlling and motivating people. 5. It is a social and emotional process. 6. Communication for improving self-confidence 7. Entertain 8. Educate 9. Establish relationships 10. Inform 11. Solve problems 12. Make orders 13. Give directions Forms of Communicating Verbal Communication All forms of communication can be categorized as either verbal or nonverbal. Both verbal and nonverbal communication can be subdivided into either vocal or non- vocal. Verbal communication involves using speech to exchange information with others. We usually communicate verbally in face-to-face conversations such as; meetings, interviews, conferences, speeches, phone calls e.t.c. Much of the communication that takes place between people is both verbal and non-verbal; that is, it is based on language and gestures. Verbal communication of the vocal category includes spoken language, while non- vocal verbal communication involves written communication as well as communication Page 4 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” that is transmitted through transmitted through sign language, finger spelling, Braille, or other similar alternatives to verbal language. Paraverbal/paralinguistic/ paralanguage features Paralinguistic or paralanguage features are the aspects of spoken communication that do not involve words. They add emphasis or shades of meaning to what people say. Paralinguistic features accompany verbal communication and are the vocal signals beyond the basic verbal message. Paralinguistic elements in a person's speech, convey meaning beyond the words and grammar used. Examples of paralinguistic features include pitch, rate, quality of voice and amplitude. Other forms of paralanguage can also include laughter or imitative speech. Prosody, which is the rhythm, pattern, stress, rate, volume, inflection and intonation of a person's speech, is also a form of paralanguage. People express meaning not just in what they say but in the way they say it. The paralinguistic features employed by a speaker provide hint to the meaning, communicate the speakers’ attitudes and convey their emotion. Paralinguistic features also alert the listener as to how to interpret the message. Many of these paralinguistic features are culturally coded and inherent in verbal communication, often at a subconscious level. Non-Verbal Non-verbal communication is a type of communication that employs gestures and body language. The term "body language" is sometimes used to denote non-verbal communications. "Body Language" is the communication of personal feelings, emotions, attitudes, and thoughts through body-movements such as gestures, postures, facial expressions, touch, smell, walking styles and positions among Page 5 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” others. These movements can be done either consciously or involuntarily; more often they ‘happen’ subconsciously, and are accompanied, or not accompanied, by words. There are basically three elements in any face-to-face communication. These three elements account differently for the meaning of the message:  Words account for 7%  Tone of voice accounts for 38% and  Body language accounts for 55% of the message. Our body language and tone of voice should be consistent with the words we use. This is only possible when we say what we mean to say and say it rightly. Otherwise we can confuse people and reduce the prospect of getting our message across to be understood. Non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings, communication failure and even conflicts if the interlocutors are careless. Non-verbal communication includes: (P)OSTURES & GESTURES (E)YE CONTACT (O)RIENTATION (P)RESENTATION (L)OOKS (E)PRESSIONS OF EMOTION Body language and kinesics are based on the behavioral patterns of non-verbal communication. Body language can actually contradict verbal communications and reveal our inner feelings about any particular person or topic either intentionally or unintentionally. Page 6 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” The way in which you fold your arms, cross your legs, sit, stand, walk, move your head, eyes, lips reveal what you may be thinking or feeling. For example, you may be sitting and conversing with a person; suddenly, he leans forward and with both arms clutches the chair. By doing so he non-verbally communicates to you his desire to end the meeting. Body language has shed new light on the dynamics of relationships. Hands Gestures Hands and arms are used by most of us to communicate our thoughts. People rub arms together, keep their arms closed, and clinch the fists. All these tell what the person has in his mind involuntary. It is a way that people non-verbally communicate positive expectations. Hands clenched together seems to be a confident gesture as some people who use it are often smiling and sound happy. However, if the hands are clenched too tightly, it is indicative of frustration or hostile attitude. Eye Gestures/facial expression Facial expression, offers the most readily observable group of gestures. We focus our eyes on the face more often than on any other part of the body, and the expressions we see there have widely accepted meanings. If a prospect's eyes are downcast and face turned away, you're being shut out, however, if the mouth move, he is probably considering your presentation. If his eyes engage yours for several seconds at a time with a slight, one-sided smile extending at least to nose level, he is weighing your proposal. It is only when you see 'eye to eye' with another person that a real basis for communication can be established. Other forms of nonverbal communication include: Touch, smell, distance. Page 7 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” The number of people in a communication situation affects the use of non-verbal communication. The more the persons involved, the more complex the use and understanding of the non-verbal communication becomes. However, to decipher the non-verbal communication it is important to see, interpret and understand them holistically and in a context, while identifying the different types of personalities involved. Levels of communication 1. Intrapersonal (Within a person) 2. Interpersonal (Face to face) 3. Group communication 4. Mass communication 5. Inter country/ Development Communication Barriers 1. Physiological Barriers Physiological barriers may result from individuals' personal discomfort, caused, for example, by ill health, poor eye sight, or hearing difficulties. These may also affect one’s personality in many different and mostly negative ways. This can best be handled by working on developing a positive perception as certain physiological features contributing to barriers may not be curable. 2. Physical Barriers Physical barriers include:  Office doors, barrier screens, separate areas for people of different status  Large working areas or working in one unit that is physically separate from others.  Distance Page 8 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” Research shows that one of the most important factors in building cohesive teams is proximity. Proximity in different cultures is different and therefore needs to be taken in the right context. It has been observed that people coming from rural backgrounds with more physical space available may not feel comfortable in closed quarters as they tend to have larger personal spaces as compared to people living in urban conditions. This aspect alone can become a significant psychological barrier if they subconsciously feel “threatened” by inadvertent “invasion” of their personal space in case an urbanite approaches them in close proximity considering it as a normal personal space. 3. Cultural Barriers Culture prescribes behavior. Humans can adapt to different culture once we come to accept it and appreciate that cultures are different so that we can be recognized from others and that no specific connotations need to be attached to one culture or the other. 4. Language Barriers Language that describes what we want to say in our terms may present barriers to others who are not familiar with our expressions, buzz-words, and jargon. When we couch our communication in such language, it is a way of excluding others. In a global setting the greatest compliment we can pay another person is to talk in their language. 5. Interpersonal Barriers Withdrawal is an absence of interpersonal contact. It is both refusals to be in touch with others. 6. Psychological Barriers Page 9 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” There are 3 types of psychological barriers would be discussed as they are the most common ones. a. Perceptual barriers b. Emotional Barriers, and c. Experiential barriers. Perceptual barriers The problem with communicating with others is that we all see the world differently. A bad experience would perceptually block out unpleasant things. This could be in the shape of avoiding it and if that is not possible by altering the behaviors i.e., response types in different ways. Similarly, retention filters out things that feel good, and gives the tendency to forget those things that are painful. It is very interesting to note that how our experiences taint or color our perceptions. Perceptual barriers can significantly alter our understanding and thus affect our communication. They are deep rooted and work in conjunction with our experiences. Emotional barriers One of the other chief psychological barriers to open and free communication is the emotional barrier. It is comprised mainly of fear, mistrust, and suspicion. As mentioned earlier the roots of our emotional mistrust of others lie in our childhood and infancy when we were taught to be careful what we said to others. Experiential barriers Experiential barriers on the other hand become barriers by virtue of not having experienced them leading to altered interpretation and comprehension. Our experience shapes our view of the world. For example, when children experience trauma at the hands of trusted adults (especially family members) their emotional Page 10 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” link with the adult world is severed, creating distrust. They are left with three companions: guilt, fear and feelings of inferiority. 7.Stereotypes Stereotypes are widely circulated ideas or assumptions about particular groups. Stereotypes are usually negative attitudes which people use to justify discrimination of conflict against others. According to Pennington (1986) " there are two characteristics of stereotypes 1. People are categorized on the basis of very visible characteristics e.g. race, nationality, sex, dress and bodily appearance; 2. All members of a particular group are assumed to have the same characteristics; and The effects of stereotyping are seen as gross over simplified and over generalized descriptions. They operate to overestimate differences existing between groups and under estimate differences within groups. Stereotypes distort reality since the over estimation between groups and under estimation within groups bear little relation to the truth. Stereotyping acts as a barrier to communication because people make pre- conceived judgment about people which are unfounded if their character does not relate to their appearance. Stereotyping has a halo effect. Halo effect is the use of a single attribute to describe a person or object fully. For example, if a person is friendly we may use Page 11 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” this attribute to assume that they are punctual and good at their job. Another important aspect of stereotyping is perception. 8. Authority Barriers to communication for one reason or the other often get neglected. Knowing them is synonymous to knowing about one’s own barriers sprouting out of one’s personality. Barriers to communication can lead to misunderstanding and confusion. How to be a good communicator To be a good communicator, one needs to: a) Express own reflections and ideas clearly b) Develop relationships c) Provide feedback (answers, reacts) d) Be open to others’ feedback (accept others answer without prejudice, references etc. e) Respect attitudes and opinions of others f) Be tolerant to different customs and cultures g) Give full attention to people while they are talking to you. h) Encourage other people to talk, and ask appropriate questions. i) Present your ideas so that others are receptive to your point of view. j) Treat people fairly and let others know how you want to be treated. k) Value teamwork and know how to build cooperation and commitment. l) Strive to understand other people and to be empathetic. m) Be able to easily win people’s trust and respect. n) Check to make sure you have understood what other people are trying to communicate. Page 12 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” o) Follow through on your commitments. p) Be able to work with people you have difficulties with without becoming negative. Elements of Communication There are models which try to explain the communication process. A model is an explanation of the occurrences in a phenomenon. Elements of communication have been explained in different models which attempt to explain the communication process. Communication is a two-way process that results in a shared meaning or common understanding between the sender and the receiver. An understanding of how communication works can help us to understand and improve our communication. The elements of communication enable us to understand how communication works. The basic communication model consists of five elements of communication: the sender, the receiver, the message, the channel and feedback. These are the elements of communication and are explained below: Page 13 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” Note: Noise is ever present though unseen. Source This is the originating point of any communication act. It is the source who gets the urge that necessitates communication for the purpose of satisfying that urge. The stronger the stimulus or the urge the greater is the need to communicate. The greater the need to communicate, the more the need is for effectiveness. The source is also referred to as the sender, or encoder. Encoding is the process of putting ones thoughts into words. Encoder is the person who translates his/her thoughts into meaningful words. Receiver The receiver means the party to whom the sender transmits the message. A receiver can be one person or an entire audience of people. A receiver is the eventual recipient of the message. The receiver is also the decoder of the message. Decoding of a message is as integral to communication as encoding it. Decoding is the process of giving meaning to the encoded message. It can also be referred to as extracting the embedded meaning or interpreting what was encoded by the sender. The ability of the receiver in decoding the message correctly is decisive in understanding the message in its holistic sense. Noise/ Barriers Page 14 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” Anything that is competing the source’s and the receivers’ attention is called noise. Barriers to communication are the factors that contribute towards the total or partial loss or failure of the communication. In simple terms they can be referred to as those features that act as blocks to the desired outcome of any communication process. They are many and very multidimensional in nature. Noise can be internal or external. a) Internal: Noise that is coming from within the interlocutors such as a headache, anger, stress, e.t.c b) External noise: Noise from the environment such as; cars passing, children shouting, siren from an ambulance e.t.c. Message The message is the most crucial element of effective communication. A message can come in many different forms, such as an oral presentation, a written document, an advertisement or just a comment. The message is not necessarily what the sender intends it to be. Rather, the message is what the receiver perceives the message to be. As a result, the sender must not only compose the message carefully, but also evaluate the ways in which the message can be interpreted. Channel The message travels from one point to another via a channel of communication. The channel sits between the sender and receiver. There are many channels, or types, of communication channels for example, from the spoken word to radio, television, an Internet site or something written, like a book, letter or magazine. Every channel of communication has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, one disadvantage of the written word, on a computer screen or in a book, Page 15 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” is that the receiver cannot evaluate the tone of the message. For this reason, effective communicators word written communications clearly so they don't rely on a specific tone of voice to convey the message accurately. The advantages of television as a channel for communication include its expansive reach to a wide audience and the sender's ability to further manipulate the message using editing and special effects. Feedback The last element of effective communication is feedback. This is the response from the receiver and later the source. Feedback is the receiver's response or reaction to the sender's message. The receiver can transmit feedback through asking questions, making comments or just supporting the message that was delivered. Feedback helps the sender to determine how the receiver interpreted the message and how it can be improved. Without feedback the communication process breaks down. The feedback given determines the direction the communication process will take. A communication process that employs all the elements works as follows: The source has an urge–a need that requires being satisfied encodes the message in verbal and/or non-verbal language that is considered to best communicate the message according to the intent.. In order to make that happen, it has to be in a form and format that conveys the intent in the best possible manner. This message is encapsulated in the linguistic conventions such as symbols i.e., words besides signs that can be referred to as non-verbal language. Page 16 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” The message will go through a channel, a means of communication such as e-mail, face to face or phone conversation, letter, presentation etc. The receiver will then decode the message using conventions, cultural or contextual background, and language skills. The message that is received or interpreted might or might not be the same as the sent one and may not necessarily meet the intent of the messenger. MODELS OF COMMUNICATION The purpose of a “model” is to offer a visual representation of a concept with the intent of facilitating its understanding. Models of communication refers to the conceptual model used to explain the human communication process. The first major model for communication came in 1949 by Shannon and Warren Weaver. Following the basic concept, communication is the process of sending and receiving messages or transferring information from one part (sender) to another (receiver).Traditionally speaking, there are three standard models of the Page 17 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” communication process: Linear, Interactive, and Transactional, and each offers a slightly different perspective on the communication process. Linear Model The linear model views communication as a one-way or linear process in which the speaker speaks and the listener listens. Laswell’s (1948) model was based on the five questions below, which effectively describe how communication works: The main flaw in the linear model is that it depicts communication as a one-way process where speakers only speak and never listen. It also implies that listeners listen and never speak or send messages. Interactive Model Schramm (1955) in Wood (2009) came out with a more interactive model that saw the receiver or listener providing feedback to the sender or speaker. The speaker or sender of the message also listens to the feedback given by the receiver or listener. Both the speaker and the listener take turns to speak and listen to each other. Feedback is given either verbally or non-verbally, or in both ways. Page 18 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” This model also indicates that the speaker and listener communicate better if they have common fields of experience, or fields which overlap Source: Wood, J. T. (2009). Communication in our lives (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth The main drawback in the interactive model is that it does not indicate that communicators can both send and receive messages simultaneously. This model also fails to show that communication is a dynamic process which changes over time. Transactional Model The transactional model shows that the elements in communication are interdependent. Each person in the communication act is both a speaker and a listener, and can be simultaneously sending and receiving messages. There are three implications in the transactional model: Page 19 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development” AMOUD UNIVERSITY “A Vehicle for Peace and Development” i. “Transactional” means that communication is an ongoing and continuously changing process. You are changing, the people with whom you are communicating are changing, and your environment is also continually changing as well. ii. In any transactional process, each element exists in relation to all the other elements. There is this interdependence where there can be no source without a receiver and no message without a source. iii. Each person in the communication process reacts depending on factors such as their background, prior experiences, attitudes, cultural beliefs and self- esteem. Transactional model of communication takes into account “noise” or interference in communication as well as the time factor. The outer lines of the model indicate that communication happens within systems that both communicators share (e.g., a common campus, hometown, and culture) or personal systems (e.g., family, religion, friends, etc). It also takes into account changes that happen in the communicators’ fields of personal and common experiences. The model also labels each communicator as both sender as well as receiver simultaneously. Page 20 of 131 AMOUD UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF COMPUTING AND ICT: “Electronic Hub For Peace & Development”

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