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Communication Training, What Is Communication & How To Improve Interpersonal Verbal & Non Verbal Competence Skills

Updated on April 9, 2012

Communication Training For People!

This best communication training article is one of a series.  So, what is this and how do you improve communication?  We look at interpersonal, competence, non and verbal skills.

This article focuses upon people and not information technology and it is here we ask the question, what is communication?  We then go on to create a definition surrounding it.

We look at verbal and non-verbal communication, form, content and function. Whilst we keep referring back in how to improve communication, we look at the influences of roles, labels and personal meanings that help make, or not, effective communication.

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Communication Definition

In order to know how to improve communication, we need to understand what is involved in this. It means lots of different things to lots of different people, however, what is communication really? Firstly, what we need to do is look at all aspects of communication from non verbal to verbal but before we do this, here is a definition:

Communication is: 'a process of encoding, transmitting and decoding signals in order to exchange information and ideas between participants' (Owens, 1984). Furthermore, it is 'responses which the person makes intentionally in order to affect the behaviour of another person and with the expectation that the other person will receive and act on that message' (Kieran, Reid and Goldbart, 1987).

It is, therefore, a process where 'signals' are expressed between people involving an exchange of some kind. These exchanges have an inpact on the participants which results in some form of behaviour are displayed in one form or another.

This can be verbal or non verbal and the expectation can lead to understanding or misunderstanding, depending on the perspective of the individuals concerned.

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Courtesy Wikimedia
Courtesy Wikimedia
Courtesy of Flickr
Courtesy of Flickr

Non-Verbal Communication

Now non-verbal communication is one to do with body language and even the silences. It seems that everything we do, or don't as the case may be with, can be communicated. Almost anything that we do, we display a form of behaviour - we communicate whether we want to or not. We can not escape from communication unless we are alone.

Non-verbal communication can lead to accidental self-exposure, for example, where others can watch for hidden forms of communication. These include:

  • Body language
  • Facial expressions
  • gestures
  • Out of sync silences

All these can mean so much more when attempting not to communicate! However, all these factors are not really important when the interaction is not face to face. But what is important is the breathing and the pauses. This in itself can tell a story!

So to sum up, the importance of non-verbal communication, by how we present ourselves, our behaviour, facial expressions and responses to social ques have a direct impact on how others receive us and how we receive others. In order to improve communication, we have to be aware of these subtle non-verbal responses. This is called 'unintentional communication'.

The key to success, here, is to ensure that we turn this idea on its head and create 'intentional communication' instead of 'unintentional communication'. This becomes a method that portrays what we want to portray rather than leading to others thinking about us in the way that we wouldn't want them to. By controlling our non-verbal behaviour, therefore, we control others responses to us.

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Why Do We Communicate?

We communicate in order to:

  • Get a response - whether we like it or not!
  • Send or receive information
  • A way to learn and teach
  • Prevent problems and situations
  • To communicate when we aren't happy (complain)
  • Prevent and/or relieve discomfort
  • To portray ourselves as happy, unhappy, friendly or unfriendly

Communication Requires Form, Content and Function

So, by learning how to improve communication, we can operate at a more sophisticated level. However, that doesn't mean moving away from more spontaneous and basic methods of communication, it just means that we have become more aware and more sensitive to the impression that we might give to others.

Now let's think about the form, content and function of communication. The function of communication is about establishing and maintaining contact between people. This could be whether it is for a short or long duration.

The 'form' of communication can come in various manners. It is verbal and non-verbal. It could be a letter, e-mail, telephone conversation or a reciprocol interaction in person. The content, however, is about what is meant by that communication. It could be what it is said, how it is said and what is written, for example.

In order to improve communication, therefore, an idea of the structure of communication is important. It teaches us to be organised in how to express what we want to say in the most appropriate of times.

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The Influences of Roles, Labels and Personal Meanings on Communication

Whatever the nature of the connection between communication and relationships, the function of 'getting in touch' with other people is fundamental in what makes us human. This is about interpersonal communication formulated on human contact, either verbally or non-verbally.

Influences on communication involves three main themes:

  • Roles and situations
  • Labels and stereotypes
  • Personal meaning

Roles and situations is about the actual influence, how we behave and interact. Your role, as a partner in communication, provides a structure as to how we ought to behave in certain situations and predicting outcomes about how other people are likely to behave. Understanding your role, therefore, can help improve communication

Labelling and stereotyping during communication and making unfounded assumptions of others to whom we are communicating with, will have an effect on the value of the outcome. This could be negative or positive, depending on how the communication is presented. Understanding labelling and stereotyping in the communication process, therefore, can help improve communication technique. It is best, therefore, to avoid these types of assumptions.

Personal meaning is about personal perspective or how you are as a person. This affects how you interpret communications, thereby, your responses can have a 'knock on' effect. We all understand messages by actively selecting, interpreting and a distorting manner. We all live in our own reality and personal meaning could result in misunderstanding another's point of view. In highlighting the issues around personal meaning, it is hoped to improve communication techniques.

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Communication Overview Summary

In order to learn how to improve communication, we asked the question 'what is communication?'. We then looked at lots of facets to do with interpersonal communication with our fellow human beings. Firstly, we examined a definition. This provided a structure to the complexities of communication. Secondly we examined the importance of both non-verbal and verbal communication and, thirdly, we looked at form, content and function of communication. Lastly, we discovered that roles, labels and personal meanings have an influence on the value of communication. This ends this part of a series of communication training for the time-being. In order to get the most out of this, please visit my other hubs on this.

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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A special thank you to the Open University for their help in this, k668

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Use this article at your own risk. This article does not give legal opinions or advice.  Any action or outcome that may result from this article is the sole responsibility of the reader.  This article is assumes no responsibility or legal claim against it.


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    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Awww... Shari, you are too kind (again!). FYI, you rock too girlie! :)

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 7 years ago from New York, NY

      shari communicating to Shaz . .YOU ROCK and this Hub is one of your finest! But then again I havent one read of yours that I couldnt say the same thing!!! Rated up up and away:)))

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Prasetio... thank you - it is lovely to have one's work acknowledged :)

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I liked all the information inside this hub. You have great topic. We need the communication skill, especially to communicate with others. This also good when we talk about manners. And how to communicate well include the good attitude and good manners also. Thumbs Up and good work my friend. I rate this hub. take care!


    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      lol... fob off ... English lingo for 'getting rid' of the problem by saying anything. It is a shaz word - not official at all. The problem in this is that the problem always comes back to haunt if you 'fob it off'. Will you go back and haunt them? :) *wink*

    • Rafini profile image

      Rafini 7 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      (not understanding what you meant...fob off?)

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Rafini, it looks like someone was making cut backs and it looks like it was you!

      I know exactly what you mean about the keyword and tone. Was the question when? If this was the case the keyword would be friday. If the question is what, then it would be paycheck. 'How' would be 'delivered' as opposed to collect.

      Sounds like you have had the communication that I didnt mention and that was the 'fob off' communication tactic. Not good practice at all!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Billy... absolutely! It can get quite complex, cant it? Thanks for reading:)

    • Rafini profile image

      Rafini 7 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      Hiya Shaz, I had to check out what you had to say about communication. :D It's a very important topic to me, as it's the main reason I quit my job last year. My employer was targeting me quite heavily all the while stating I had poor communication skills (even with a test in my personnel file stating communication is definitely my strength), this leads to questions rather than answers, or maybe this just proves my claims.

      Speaking to a label/stereotype lowers the value of communication outcomes - oh, yeah. They wanted me to quit alright! They were looking for the negative outcome (me quitting) in order to deny my unemployment, which would have been a positive outcome for them. (don't understand why, though. unemployment insurance is something they have to pay no matter what)

      The meaning of the structure of a sentence changes when certain words within that sentence are stressed. Agree? ex: I expect my paycheck to be delivered on FRIDAY. Friday is the key word, right? Not paycheck, not expect, not delivered. Friday is the key word. Can anyone seriously expect someone to understand anything different?

      Thanks Shaz, I'm off to read the next one. :D

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Excellent hub - I like the non verbal communication section - sometimes things are left better unsaid and also the things we don't say can mean so much.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Samboiam - they both go rather hand in hand, don't you think? I am glad you can use this as a reference, particularly for others. Thank you for reading:)

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Tonymac - I am glad you liked it and that I have covered this in a way people can understand. :)

    • samboiam profile image

      samboiam 7 years ago from Texas

      I work in a maximem security prison. It is a job that requires a certain amount of people skills and communication ability. I am surpised at how many people do not have either one.

      Rated up, tweeted, and bookmarked.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Thnis is a subject close to my heart and you have handled it very well indeed!

      Love and peace