Online Communication Skills Course to Study at Home
The ability to communicate well is valued both in our work life and private life. Without good communication, an employee is less productive, a family is under stress, and a social life may be non existant.
- Communication never occurs in a vacuum.
There needs to be both someone who gives the message and someone who receives the message.
The giver and the receiver deal with personal perceptions.
They may perceive or interpret the same thing (this is effective communication) or they may perceive or interpret the message to be other than what was intended (this is ineffective communication).
Items of communication never have fully developed meanings.
There are an infinite number of ways something can be communicated.
The meaning will change (or develop) as a message is explained more fully, utilising more of the ways it can be communicated.
Good communication involves interaction. It is not just "A" telling "B"; it should also involve "B" responding, then "A replying to the response. In other words, there should be feedback.
This subject has 8 lessons as follows:
- Introduction - to gain an understanding of the concepts of communications
- Types of Communication - to identify the types of communications and barriers to communication.
- Language Skills - to develop language skills, particularly wording.
- Writing Skills - to evaluate and improve writing skills and themes.
- Developing Writing Skills - to develop journalistic concepts in writing.
- Visual Communications - to identify the significance of visual representation of information.
- Public Speaking - to become aware of the techniques of speaking in public and prepare a speech.
- Committee Meetings - to identify the function and processes involved in a committee meeting
- Explain the communication process
- Explain the types of communication approaches used.
- Demonstrate language skills that are concise and precise.
- Explain the importance of writing as an effective form of communication.
- Demonstrate writing skills as an effective form of communication.
- Describe various forms of visual communication and how they are generally used to impart messages.
- Prepare for effective verbal communication.
- Conduct committee meetings.
Modes of communication
We normally think of communication being with words (verbal), but non verbal communication can be just as powerful as verbal.
Below are just some of the possible modes of communication. Though you can communicate using only one of these modes, usually we use a combination of two or more.
Speaking (in person)
Speaking (over radio/TV etc)
Video, TV, Film
Writing (personal letters, memos, notes etc)
Writing (through print media - books, magazines, newspapers etc)
Writing (reports, documents etc)
Pictures (drawings, paintings, photos, graphs, diagrams etc)
Voice (tone and rhythm etc)
This course considers everything about communication; from the different modes to understanding what is effective and what can go wrong in communication processes.
Armed with a better understanding of communication, you will have a basis for building your own communication skills .Body Language
When you talk to anyone, we all display body language to varying degrees. The person you are speaking to will show non-verbal communication through their body language. But remember YOU are also showing body language to that person as well. If you are listening to them, saying all the right things as we have discussed above, but if you are yawning, looking at your watch, then looking around you, your body is not saying the same as your words.
Body Language and non-verbal behaviour are basically the same thing. Non-verbal communication is communication without words. We communicate with our face, head movements, hand signals, shrugs and so on. Our non-verbal communication is often (but not always) subconscious and can be used to-
• Convey an attitude – show aggression, happiness
• Demonstrate a personality trait – we may show our open palms to show we are accepting.
• Express emotion – smile to show happiness
• Support verbal communication.
Non-verbal communication varies from culture to culture. For example, holding four fingers of one hand up (not the thumb) means four to many people, but in Japan it is an insult. So it is important to be careful and aware of different cultures interpretations of different gestures.
However, the major emotions are common across the world –
We don’t know for sure how much of our communication is non-verbal. Estimates vary from 50% to the 80%s. Non-verbal communication becomes more significant, the more mixed messages are sent. So if a person is saying one thing, but their body is saying something else, we will tend to pay more attention to what their body is saying to us. Most of us are aware that this is a sign of attempted deception.
Meharabian (1971) carried out a study to see how people decide if they like each other. They looked at facial expressions and spoken words. Participants had to listen to a recording of a female saying one word “maybe” in three tones of voice – neutral, dislike and like. The subjects were then shown photographs of a female face with three expressions – neutral, like and dislike. They were asked to guess which emotion the person in the photograph, the person on the recording and both together were experiencing. The participants were more accurate in guessing the emotion of the photographs than the voice at a ratio of 3:2.
Meharabian also carried out another study where participants had to listen to nine words. Three showed liking (dear, thanks, honey), three showed disliking (brute, terrible, don’t) and three showed neutrality (oh, maybe, really). The words were spoken in different tones. The participants were asked to guess the emotions behind the words. They found that tone carried more meaning than the word.
They concluded then that –• Without seeing and hearing non-verbal messages, there can be more chance of misunderstanding.
• A lot of communication does come through non-verbal communication, but we are still unsure as to the exact amount.
• When we are not sure about a particular word, we pay more attention to non-verbal communication.
• When we do not trust a person, we pay more attention to non-verbal communication.
There are many myths about body language. For example, crossing your arm means defensiveness, covering your mouth means you are lying and so on. But we should rely more on other factors such as –
• Clusters of factors (showing more signs of non-verbal communication)
• Non-verbal behaviour at the time a question is asked, particularly if the question is embarrassing or difficult.
• Situations where the other person may not be trying to control their non-verbal behaviour.
As we said above, it is important to consider your own non-verbal communication. BUT not to such an extent that you try to control it all the time, which can make it appear false or give mixed messages from you.
Electronic Non-Verbal CommunicationWith the modern world, many of us rely more and more on emails, texting and social networking. Whilst this is written down, there can also be non-verbal communication involved here as well.
Have you ever had an email where it doesn’t sound like the person is saying something nice, then they put a “smiley face” at the end?
“I know you are busy, but can I please have your report by the end of the day!!!!!!!”
“I know you are busy, but can I PLEASE have your report BY THE END OF THE DAY!!!!!”
“I know you are busy, but can I please have your report by the end of the day?”
“I know you are busy, but can I please have your report by the end of the day. ”
Can you see the point? All of these sentences say EXACTLY the same thing, but the WAY they are said demonstrates different points of view. The use of exclamation marks and capital letters suggests impatience and annoyance. The question mark at the end of the third sentence suggests that they are just asking if you can get it to them by the end of the day. The final sentence suggests that the person is being understanding, but would like the report by the end of the day.
So the way things are written can also convey non-verbal communication. Emoticons, such as smiley faces, are often used to ensure that the reader understands the tone of the message. Eg. Smiley face, angry face, happy face and so on.
Words or sentences written in capital letters suggests that the writer is shouting.
“I WANT THE REPORT TODAY.”
Exclamation marks suggest impatience or excitement or just trying to make a point.
We will come onto online and telephone counselling in a later chapter, but this is also something to consider when you are counselling someone via email or online.