Our success or failure to communicate effectively will shape and perhaps determine whether or not we achieve our personal and professional goals. It will affect our self-esteem and our sense of well-being, and the contributions we make to our families, our jobs, and our communities. Good or bad communication can even affect our health.
Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Ludwig von Beethoven, John Steinbeck, Maya Angelou, Stephen Spielberg, and other respected writers, musicians, and artists weren’t born successful communicators. It took years of study, practice, and commitment to achieve a level of excellence in self-expression. Like art, effective communication is based on several fundamental principles— common sense, really. If we understand these basic skills and then practice and refine them so that we are able to put them to use depending on the situations we find ourselves in, we will become quite adept at the art.
The way we communicate is tied to how we perceive a situation or an issue, and this “view” is shaped in large part by our values and beliefs. Our upbringing, educational experiences, socioeconomic status, religion, and politics—all these things form the basis of our values and beliefs. We need to understand the “spin” our values and beliefs are putting on the conversations and interactions we have with others. Some of it might stand in the way of understanding and productive communication.
Research has shown that there are seven factors that contribute to good (or bad) communication.
• Receiving the Message
• “Reading” Non-Verbal Clues
• Giving and Receiving Feedback
• Transmitting Your Message
These competency areas represent critical skills involved in effective communication.