Principles and Misconceptions
Effective Interpersonal Communications
1. Introduction Not a day passes in human life without two or more persons coming into contact and exchanging information or ideas to enable them to arrive at common or diverse goals. The exchange of ideas or information is done through a process called communication. There were times long ago, when communication was understood as mere deliverance of words to the listener. But as civilization progressed communication is interpreted to mean much more. Communication is now interpreted as a process of expression of one’s ideas or feelings or intentions not merely through spoken language but through expressions, gestures, actions, signals and body language. This article is an attempt to examine the concept of ‘communication’ from various angles and connotations.
2. What is communication? It is highly desirable to understand the meaning of ‘communication’ before going in detail into its other connotations. Although there is some ambiguity regarding its precise meaning, there is agreement that it can be defined as “the process of sharing information, ideas, attitudes, resulting in a degree of understanding between the sender and the receiver”. (Lewis, P.V.,1980)
3. Need for effective communication For ages, it was thought speech is the only way of communication. But it was gradually realized that communication cannot be restricted to mere deliverance of a word, but it encompasses conveyance of a feeling or thought by such means as gestures, expression and body language. As long as ‘word’ was presumed to be the only means of communication, individuals and organizations took it for granted that what they said or written is received and understood. The extent of poor communication was recognized only when conflicts arose which demanded intense efforts to resolve. There are compelling reasons for educating individuals about both the complexity of the communication process and the alternatives that are available. A study of many a major disaster often include the reason of failure of communication. Many airlines crashes, though reported to have occurred due to technical reasons, have indeed an undercurrent of failure of communication. Improving communication involves learning how it works and then refining skills necessary for efficient and effective communication. The beginning of such learning is the recognition that communication is not the message sent, but message received. Since one has no control over message received, one has to be cautious about the message sent. The ‘communication breakdown’ may result from different interpretations of the same information and the reluctance of people to speak clarifications. There are two compelling reasons as to why a study of “Effective Communication” is essential. The first focuses on the significance of the organizations in the modern world. Over the last one century, organizations grew larger in size, became more complex in structure. These organizations have influence over most of the human activities that enable people to remain self-sufficient. So people have become dependent on them as they influence and determine the conditions under which they live and exert all enormous influence and power over governments and their decisions. Since the people are affected by the existence and behaviour of organizations, it is essential to attempt to study them and understand them better. The second reason concerns the people more directly. It is inevitable that the people are continuously in interaction with various types of organizations ranging from being members of their immediate families to other organization that employ them, educate them and form a large part of their social contact with other. In addition to these two there is another reason, which though applies to a