In your academic life, you will come across and interact with a lot of people from students to staff. In order to communicate effectively, it will be important to understand the different types of communication, what can hinder communication and how you can improve on your communication skills. These will go a long way to helping you not only in your academic life but even in your other relationships. It will certainly also benefit you once you join the working world.
There are two types of communication: Verbal and non-verbal communication
• Entails spoken or written language and helps you carry your thoughts from your mind and to others
• This refers to the use of body language to communicate to others
• About 80% of all communication happens non-verbally
Listening is hard work, it requires willingness and concentration. Only when you can hear a person and understand what they are saying can you be in a position to reply in a sensible way.
Below are a few tips to use your body language to help you listen more effectively and they will also indicate to others that you are alert and attentive to what they are saying.
o F: Face the person
o E: Eye contact
o L: Lean slightly towards the person
o O: Open rather than closed posture
o R: Relaxed rather than rigid posture
o I: Show Interest in what the person is saying
Roadblocks are ineffective ways of responding to others. They can block the communication process thus hindering communication rather than aiding it. Some of them may appear well meaning but the person on the receiving end can end up feeling judged or misunderstood.
There following are commonly used road blocks.
1. Advising or giving solutions: Whenever you get a chance, you end up giving advice. For example: “What you should do is…”, “If I were you I would…”
2. Judging, blaming or criticizing someone: Whenever you get a chance you judge, blame or criticize others. For example: “You are not thinking at all…”, “It is all your fault…”
3. Moralizing or preaching: Whenever you get a chance, you end up preaching. For example: “You should…”, “You ought to…”
4. Probing/ questioning: For example: “Why did you…?”, “How..?”
5. Ordering/ Commanding: For example: “You must…”, “You have no choice…”
6. Diverting/ withdrawal: Trying not to talk at all or trying to change the conversation: For example, “Let’s talk about something else…”
7. Name calling/ Ridiculing: For example: “Don’t be such a jerk…”, “You are a spoilt brat…”
8. Warning/ threatening: For example: “If you don’t then…”, “You’d better or…”
9. Praising/ Agreeing: For example: “I wouldn’t let that bother you, you are great…”
Things to consider:
Different people resent different roadblocks being used on them. Which roadblocks do you particularly resent being used on you? Which ones do you think you might be using when communicating to others? Do they help or hinder your communication?
> More than half of what we communicate, and more than half of what we understand from others is communicated non-verbally.
> It is thus important to be aware of and work on our non-verbal communication skills.
> When we wish someone to know that we are listening actively, we need to be aware of the messages our bodies are sending out (FELORI).
> Be aware of any roadblocks that may be hindering your communication.
If you need further information or assistance, please visit DeKUT’s counseling centre.