Communication plays a very important role in our life as the main tool of interaction between people. Communication is a very important aspect with the help of which people
send both verbal messages including words and sentences and nonverbal messages including facial expression, behavior and physical setting. In the Information Age communication patterns have been changed because of changing nature of interaction between people. Although, communication still performs the major function: the mean whereby people exchange information. It is the interchange of ideas, facts, and emotions by two or more persons by the use of words, letters and symbols. IT (Information Technology) covers new communication tools such as computers, telecommunications and electronics and there is little doubt that IT is having a profound influence on all aspects of life. This new intensity of information makes possible far more precise planning and faster communication at low cost. By distributing information through electronic networks, a person can effectively communicate with thousands of people around the world and solve problems and tasks which would be impossible in face-to-face traditional communication.
In spite of all advantages of Information Age, most people feel lack of face-to-face communication, but develop strong written communication skills. Everyone has some weaknesses and strengths in communication as a result of psychological and personal peculiarities, and every day communication patterns. As for me, verbal written communication is my strength. My weakness is non-verbal communication, because in some situations I am not sure what behavior patterns I should follow, for instance, speaking with strangers or a policeman. Sometimes I feel cultural or social barriers communicating with others.
I have strong verbal communication skills because I spend much time communicating with my friends through the Internet. On the one hand, I can communicate with several people at the same time, and save time on calls and personal meetings. This form of communication is very popular because it helps to transmit information to the recipient and receive reply faster and easier in comparison with other types of human interaction. Also, the addressing of a message enables normal mail to be processed and delivered without need for the sender to inform the recipient that the message is to be dispatched. I have good written skills and can clearly express my opinion in several sentences. My strength is logical, concise and informative messages which help the recipient to grasp the idea at once. In spite of advantages mentioned above, this form of communication cannot replace face-to-face communication.
This form of communication prevents me to have good non-verbal communication skills because I do not see people I communicate with: their facial expression and gestures.
Body language, as a part of physical non-verbal communication is my weakness. Studies suggest that in the process of interpersonal communication only 7% of the message is verbally communicated, and 93% is non-verbally transmitted: 38% is transmitted through voice, and 55% is transmitted through facial expressions. For this reason, it is important to develop string non-verbal communication skills (McKay et al, 1995).
My strength is that I pay a special attention to words and expressions while communicating with others. It means that people from different cultures interpret differently expression and proverbs used in my culture (Fowler, 2006). For instance, comparing people to animals may be quite unacceptable in Indiums and Islam. Thus the use of animals to illustrate human behavior may be pleasant for Europeans and Americans if it is not offensive.
The primary goal to improve my non-verbal communication is to follow accepted communication patterns which determine the level of personal culture of every communicator. The second goal is to avoid unpleasant and offensive situations as a result of poor non-verbal skills. The third goal is to make communication and interaction with others more effective and pleasant for both communicators.
Taking into account recent theories, it was discovered that a person need a special distance while communicate with the other people. Researches single out four categories for informal space which include: intimate distance for whispering (5-16 inches), conversations among friends (1-5 feet), social distance for conversations (4-10 feet), and public distance for public speaking (12-15 feet) (Wainwright, 2000). It is explained in terms that people need a particular space that is appropriate for different types of communication. They need this distance to feel comfortable and protected. This space exists in both types of communication verbal and non-verbal, and called as a “personal space” (Pease, 1990).
The main disadvantage is that non-verbal communication can be interpreted in different ways, and for this reason requires a special attention of communicators. In this very case people should pay an extreme care to gesture selecting and to a possible meaning they can convey. It has been found that the tone, pitch, quality of voice, and rate of speaking convey emotions that can be accurately judged regardless of the content of the message. The central thing is that the voice is important not just as the conveyor of the message, but as a complement to the message. That is why a messenger should be aware of the tone, pitch, and quality of his/her voice in order the message would not be spoiled by negative non-verbal influence.
In sum, both forms of communication are important in Information Age, and people have to develop their skills in order to communicate effectively with each other. Even if most of us spend a lot of time on written communication and feel lack of “non-verbal practice” it does not mean that we should forget about good manners and behavior patterns. In Information Age people should pay a special attention to their non-verbal messages send to the other people and realize the impact their gestures and facial expressions have on others. If a person is aware of the main principles of non-verbal meaning his/her way communication will be more effective and understandable within groups. In some cases even silence means more than any words saying before it. There are no formal rules and guidelines, but the unwritten frameworks may be just as powerful in determining behavior.
- Fowler, K. (2006) Why you need to get your message across. Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/CommunicationIntro.htm [accessed 21 March 2006]
- McKay, M., Davis, M., Fanning, P. (1995) Messages: The Communication Skills Book. New Harbinger Publications; 2nd edn.
- Pease, A. (1990).Body Language: How to Read Other’s Thoughts by Their Gestures. Sheldon Press London.
- Wainwright, G. (2000), Body Language. Teach Yourself.