A unit of Academic Affairs
Unless you are a monk or nun, quantum physicist, or stamp collector, you probably have friends. To keep those friends requires some sort of communication, which might be spoken, physical, or written/typed. However you do it, you must be effective and successful, hence today's topic.
Communication usually means speaking and listening, right?
Not so fast!
According to some statistics, roughly 60% of communication consists of body language, which means how you stand, fold your arms, furrow your eyes, and tweak your mouth expresses more than your words do. Roughly 30% of communication stems from tone of voice, and the final 10% from the actual words used. Those of you who study Chinese or Korean understand that different tones of voice can change the meaning of a word or phrase. If I tell my wife "I love you" with a gruff tone, she won't believe me, no matter how sweet my words are. At the same time, if I tell someone "Sure, no problem" but my arms are crossed, my right foot is tapping restlessly, and my face looks quite angry, then obviously my words present a completely different message than my body. Body language can be key to most interactions, which is why, if you have time and are interested in the topic of body language, you should read Body Language by Julius Fast.
You have to be careful when communicating, depending on the situation and the audience--the people you communicate with. If you write for or give talks in a work situation, then you have to be perfect because you represent not only yourself but also the company, department, or division. If you write for or speak in a personal situation, then you can be somewhat less perfect because your IM or text might not be as important as a press release or office memo. Considering your audience is a vital step to your success. You must decide whom you are writing to--family, friends, potential customers, supervisors? Then you must use appropriate words for that audience. If writing to family or friends, you should use words or phrases that you will not use with possible customers and definitely not with bosses.
Here are a couple of websites that offer other tips and ideas that might help you improve or polish your interpersonal communication:
- Susan Adams' article at Forbes.com
- Sandi Duncan's article in the 2009 Farmer's Almanac
- U. of Houston's "Interpersonal Communication Involves . . ."
This 6 minute video can offer some other elements of effective communication.