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The Five Elements Needed For Communication Competency

Updated on October 19, 2014

Communication is used by all people to tell people what we want, need and to express our inner feelings. While many of us do it every day, whether that be verbally or non-verbally, some of us fail miserably. A way to achieve better communication is to strive for communication competence. “Communication competence is engaging in communication with others that is both effective and appropriate within a given context” (Rothwell, 2013). There are many ways that you can subscribe to better your communication, however five stand out among the rest. With communication competence you not only want to become more effective in sending and receiving messages, the appropriateness of when and what to say is just as important.

The first important part of communication being competent would be with knowledge and learning the rules. The type of knowledge needed would be how to make the communication effective and what that looks like, as well as understanding when and where a conversation is appropriate. In many other countries, a hand shake is just a hand shake, however in a place like Tibet, it can be offensive. This would be inappropriate communication.

The second way to go about competent communication would be to use skill in communication. Many people will know what they are supposed to do in good communication, however it must be put to use, this knowledge. To be successful in communication, one must use skillful communicate every time consistently. An example would be to start in a team knowing the way you are supposed to speak and act, but not use the proper skills and fail miserably in the group. This is ineffective communication.

The third important part of effective and appropriate communications is sensitivity. Sensitivity is the important skill of reading and accurately interpreting the 80% of communication that is non-verbal. In the middle of a conversation, something might be taken the wrong way and upset someone. It is imperative to be able to stop the route of the conversation and bring it into a more positive direction if possible. This would be inappropriate communication.

Number four on the important ways list is commitment. Both parties will need to be committed to the conversation and its effectiveness. Commitment in finding a solution or receiving a message must be in both party’s minds, for the communication to be competent. If one party is not interesting in talking, this can make it difficult for any communication to pass and is a waste of time to those that are committed to communicating. This would be ineffective communication.

Lastly, it is important and imperative to be ethical in your communications if you want them to be effective. Not only will ethics play a big part in business, but in business communication as well. If a person does not communicate ethically, this will cause problems in the present conversation, as well as conversations in the future because people will have a harder time believing what is said. An example would be a promise made your boss when you ask for more money and then it never comes to fruition. With the bosses unethical communication, you will not believe what is said again, thus making communication un-effective, as well as inappropriate.

Effective communication also depends on the type of setting a person is in. If they are in a group, there will be more than three individuals that are influencing each other for a common goal. An aggregate however does not have a common goal in mind and they do not influence each other. Communication in a group is more focused, as well as having some of the competency tidbits needed to be effective. To make any group competent, one must use the information provided above to guide them. Also a focus on the common goal will go a long way to gain more commitment from all involved. If a solution is wanted by all, more effort will be made towards it, even from people that are not usually compatible.


Rothwell, J. D. (2013). In Mixed Company: communicating in Small Groups and Teams, Eighth edition. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning


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