Friday, August 22, 2008

Importance of effective communication

Being highly social animals, human communicate with one another to convey emotions and danger, to build relationships and to maintain social order. Since infancy, we have been developing communicative skills by crying and smiling at the right moment to achieve what we want. Not much have changed even as we reached adulthood. However, ideas and needs have become more complex and thus more effective communication is needed to convey such messages.

Effective communication is needed to prevent misunderstandings. A criticism from a superior to a subordinate can have drastically different effect depending on the choice of words used. Consider “You did a horrible job” as compared to “this piece of work can be improved”, which criticism would the subordinate more willing to accept? Often, we make the mistake of assuming that others understand exactly what we are trying to convey. However, this is often not so. How often has a woman drop hints about a birthday wish only to be met with disappointment?

Effective communication is also needed to express ideas and thoughts. A scientific hypothesis or design require funding and support of others in the field, and even members of the public to make it into a reality. However brilliant your ideas, they are worthless unless you can make people agree with you.

Moreover, effective communication can boost self-esteem. One who is able to communicate his thoughts effectively tends to be more confident when meeting people and sharing ideas.

There is hardly any aspect of life that does not require communicative skills. Communicative skills are required to maintain and form human relationships, including: parent and child, husband and wife, superior and subordinate, between friends, colleagues, and even countries. By maintaining good relationships, we can avoid hostility, receive aids, support and even promotions more easily. Maintaining good human relationships are practically essential for the survival of a human being. (Edited)


Brad Blackstone said...

You're already rockin', Oxy! Congratulations for being one of the first posters in Group 9. I also like the quote at the top of the blog page. That's a very cool addition. And then there's your inviting profile pic, the decorative oranges photo and the detailed post itself! Great!

As I read this I did have a question or two. One related to this statement: "Effective communication is needed to prevent misunderstandings." It's interesting that you focus on the negative "misunderstanding" in one paragraph/section while looking at positive aspects in the other. I think focusing on the positive, at least in the main topic sentences/initial paragraph sentences, would make
for a stronger discussion. The key issue being effective rather tahn ineffective communication, right?

Okay, so I'm being pedantic.... In any case, I really appreciate your effort. Really! And I look forward to reading more of your writing.

weiren said...

Hi Oxy,

As I was reading your entry, something came across my mind. You mentioned in your entry,

"How often has a woman drop hints about a birthday wish only to be met with disappointment?"

It reminds me of an old sexist debate on the fact that men just don't listen. In fact, Allan and Barbara Pease have used the exact phrase in their dating book titled "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps".

No no, I'm not about to start a debate on whether or not men listen to their female counterparts. I have read somewhere that it is human nature to speak, not listen. Maybe that could explain the difference in expectation between the sexes.

Not to mention that men and women think in vastly different ways. What seems to be an obvious hint from my female friends may seem subtle to me. (Then, they would all go about saying how insensitive I was to these "obvious" hints).

Anyway, great post. I look forward to reading more. =)

~Jun Yen~ said...

Yo !
Haha Weiren the point about man and woman being different minded is one of the common sights now a days. This could probably due to the way we were brought up since boys are suppose to act so and so while girls are suppose to act so and so. This kinda creates yet another cultural wall since, well if we remember, we tend to tease the boys who plays with the girls during elementary/primary schools. That is, before our hormonal rage kicks in.

Oddly though, even though such cultural expectation on both sexes kinda diverge the mind set drastically, yet we still practice them which i find it quite odd. Any proper reason for this? Since such behavior is quite apparent even if we look into different cultures. Perhaps it could be genetic?

angeline said...

Dear Oxy,

As I was reading your blog, I know I want to say something about the topic on gender and communication. Then, I see that both Weiren and Junyen are also commenting on it. I guess you have brought up a very 'hot' topic. Hahaa. Again, this is not some feminist talk or bias against any gender. I just want to mention that I feel that there is always a little mismatch in the communication between the two genders, male and female. It could most likely be due to the fact that woman and man think in different ways. Woman like to drop hints (yes/no?) and man like to say things in a straight-forward manner (again, yes/no?). However, for an effective communication between a couple or husband and wife, there must always be openness, trust and the willingness to pour out one's thoughts to the partner. Only when communication is effective, the relationship can be improved. :)

Wei Kwan said...

I think it is a very hot topic too, just like what angeline has said. Haha. One has only to go into borders to see that many books are written these days that deal with this topic.

Talking about why both genders have such different mindset and way of thinking, I think part of the reason could be also be genetic. Such behaviors, like what junywen has mentioned, is also apparent in different cultures.

There has been some studies that have shown that females tend to use one side of the brain more than males and vice versa and maybe this could explain on the differences between both genders.

Maybe it would be rather hard to understand the other gender by our own inherent interpretation on what they are thinking since we are already using different sides of our brains :D I guess it helps as we gain more experience from our social interactions with each other and through this process, we identify new meanings associated with cues from the other gender and use it subsequently to make communications between one another more effective.

Hui Xuan said...

Hey OXY,
wow...u really brought up a hot topic on gender. Since quite a few people has commented on that point. I shall skip it. I think other than the gender point, the other 2 points you brought up is also very true.

First, on the need of effective communication to express ideas and thoughts in the scientific field. I agree that unless you are able to let others understand what your experiment is about, or the expriment will just be useless and will not contribute much to the socitey. I think this is true in teaching too. Lecturers who are able to explain hard concepts in very simple terms tend to be able to encourage students to ask questions.

The other point that effective communication can boost self-esteem, I feel that it is ture too. I know of a few friends who can communicate very well. And you can really feel the confidence they have.

Oxy said...

Thank you Brad. Yes I agree that sometimes choice of a single word and arrangement of a sentence can affect the reader's impression and mood, so details like this, however minute, can be important.=)

Oxy said...

Hello all, well then perhaps all of you should thank me for posting a 'hot' statement to allow for discussion! Just kidding.

Yes, male and female minds definitely works differently, we are born like that, its genetics! This is another reason why effective communication is important. it can foster understanding between people with intrinsic differences including cross gender, cross culture and between different age groups.

Yes Hui Xuan, I TOTALLY agree with the point you brought up about lecturers. Good lecturers are amazing, they inspire!

Hui Xuan said...

hey oxy,
I think good lecurter not only inspire. They really keep you interested in the things you are studying. They make you want to go to their office and discuss more on the topic they brought up.

Wei Kin said...

"A criticism from a superior to a subordinate can have drastically different effect depending on the choice of words used. Consider “You did a horrible job” as compared to “this piece of work can be improved”, which criticism would the subordinate more willing to accept?

Every cloud has a silver lining. It is human nature to be optimistic (unless your emo) and scour for something good even though it might be non-existant. As mentioned in class, every individual has a set of "filters" installed and this pre-disposes us to assumptions and bias. Anyone that has served the Army will know this, "Assumptions make an ASS out of U n ME" (lol cliche).

Which is why effective communication is so important. Very often, it is imperative that a point is driven across. There should not be any room for misinterpretation. For example, a employee that did an horrendous piece of work should be informed so.

Of course, it isn't good to strip the poor employee of all his pride so some tact might be necessary :)

Karen said...
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Karen said...
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Brad Blackstone said...

Thanks a million, Oxy, for initiating an excellent discussion with your initial post. The responses that you have inspired in your blogging group, especially those related to the issue of gender-based com skills, are interesting. You've made an exemplary effort at getting back to your commentators, too. (And I really appreciate the insightful comments that you left on my blog post!) This is what an active web presence is all about. Cheers!

p.s. Sorry for having to delete the previous messages I sent. My daughter Billie had not signed out of her gmail and so her name was coming up as the signature for my comment. Yes, sometimes tech glitches do impede the speed and clarity of our communication!

joyce said...

Hey Oxy, I have two links here, which may provide some insights as to why women are different from men. I found these quite interesting and related to what everyone has been discussing about the topic of gender and communication.



Cheers! :)

Oxy said...

Interesting =)Thank you Joyce! Those articles reminded me of the gender discussions I had during my General Paper class back in Junior College! =D

Oxy said...

Hello Weikin,
I thought " this piece of work can be improved" is better than "you did a horrible job" because firstly, the former puts the blame on the work whereas the latter on the person. I feel that people tend to get resentful when you blame them and they would then to 'shut down' and not listen to your reasons or suggestions. Moreover, by using "improved" rather than "horrible" makes the person focus on how to IMPROVE his job rather than how HORRIBLE his job is. I feel that it seems more beneficial that way =)
Of course that may not work on everybody.