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Show the way…

Get the message across effectively to others by listening and talking correctly, says Jitendra Nagpal

education Updated: Sep 02, 2009, 12:07 IST
Jitendra Nagpal
Jitendra Nagpal
Hindustan Times

Boy: In a good relationship one person talks while the other listens.
Boy (Again): Then that person talks while the first person listens…
Girl: I like talking…I hate listening.
Boy: I realise that…
Girl: What!!!

Communication means interaction, when two or more people send and receive messages and in the process both present themselves and interpret others. The expression of friendship, affection and love depend on people’s ability to communicate their feelings; so do the expressions of anger, mistrust and hatred. Relationships falter as people claim they can’t communicate anymore; negotiations between the superpowers are bedevilled by “communication break-downs”.

Looking inward, the self is concerned with its own identities, goals and motivation. Looking outward, the individual has a set of beliefs and theories about other people, both as an individual and as a group. It is through communication that these identities and beliefs take shape. One would do well to remember that the basic root of the foundation for communication takes shape at home and then branches out in the larger social world. Thus enhancing the quality of language of a child is the first step of sowing the seeds of good communication skills.

The modern world today requires effective communication skills to enable one to win in all competitive spheres of life. For effective communication, a sender transmits his or her message in a clear and organised form to maintain and promote the need and interest of the receivers. Receivers or listeners show interest only if the person communicating is loaded with confidence, gestures and softness.

Therefore, it involves meaning, content and impression rather than just ‘rhetoric’. It is a synchronicity between verbal and non-verbal language including gaze, facial expressions, body movements and gestures, touch and distance. Words convey our conscious thoughts but the power of non-verbal language is to communicate unspoken thoughts. For e.g. a constant gaze can communicate liking, attentiveness, competence and credibility and an important element to initiate and maintain a conversation.

To engage and express fully as we communicate, we can keep in the mind the following points, which will initiate a meaningful and pleasant conversation:

The attitude:
Our attitude is the first thing people pick up on in face-to-face communication. Just as laughing, yawning, and crying are infectious, so is attitude. When we are operating on the basis of a really useful attitude, such as enthusiasm, curiosity, and humility, our body language tends to take care of itself and sends out unmistakable signals of openness.

Being a good listener:
Listening and showing that you care what’s being said, while remaining silent, is a great skill. Listening properly improves your productivity, as well as ability to influence, persuade, negotiate. It also helps to avoid conflict and misunderstandings – all necessary for workplace success.

Learn to master your emotions:
Control of emotions is important to communicate, especially negative emotions. In case of a conflict, try to reach a compromise by finding a solution that makes both people happy.

If we get defensive and angry at any point, it is more than likely that the other person will do the same.

Ask effective questions:
Good questioning can determine how well the other understands. It also shows the speaker that the listener is paying attention. And it shows that the listener is interested in the speaker’s response. A listener should ask both open-ended and focused questions.

Of course, an appropriate tone and volume ensure that our listeners hear exactly what we are saying, and decrease room for misunderstanding.

The all-important eye contact:
Eye is one of the most important nonverbal channels you have for communication and connecting with other people. It is said that the cheapest, most effective way to connect with people is to look them in the eye. Eyes are the “window to the soul” and index of the mind too.

Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. By understanding our personal style of communicating, we can go a long way in creating good and lasting impressions on others. Apart from the world of career and management professionals, good communication skills are required at all stages of life.

“Communication works for those who work at it.” — John Powell

The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity & Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’.

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