Graphic by Evan Brooks using Wix.
One of the most important things a person can know is how to communicate. In a world of close to eight billion people, we need to be able to understand one another when attempting to accomplish what we want. From job interviews to a Friday night with friends, the way we communicate will impact how others view us and, ultimately, what we are able to get out of life from others.
We all know that our methods of communication are many and take different forms, from the use of our words to the gestures we make with our body. Knowing that we communicate in several ways, it is also imperative to understand that we are constantly communicating something to someone. Even when we are silent, sitting still or otherwise doing nothing, our messaging to others never stops.
There is a lot to learn when it comes to communication, from how and why we communicate, to how we can better understand others. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology article, published by their Human Resources department, stated that “communicating with others is about gauging your current effectiveness in communicating your message and learning strategies and techniques for improving your interpersonal communication effectiveness.”
The basic breakdown of communication is what you say and what you do. What you say can take on many meanings when you change the tone you use to speak. What you do is your actions, literally: your body posture and movement tell a story all on its own, which is why it is important to present yourself in the way you wish to be seen.
How we communicate is unique, in many ways, to each gender. If you are a man, you are most likely to be straightforward in what you say and what you do. You may joke, but there is almost no hidden message behind what you mean. If you are a woman, you are more likely to leave little meta-messages in what you say and do. Women tend to say one thing but may mean something a bit different.
This difference in communication is the cause of many misunderstandings and possible arguments. This phenomenon is better explained in the book “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation” by Deborah Tannen, a professor of sociolinguistics at Georgetown University.
In knowing that communication is complex, especially across genders and different communities, it can seem like an overwhelming task to try and understand everyone fully. The truth is, you won’t always be able to know exactly what the other person is saying or what they mean. But, in taking the effort to try to understand others, you make the best and biggest first step to being a better communicator.
It is possible to continue to learn how to better communicate with others. The best way is to practice, and the best practice is talking with others. During this time, that means getting involved with organizations, meeting fellow students or even practicing better communication with professors. Communication as a whole can be frustrating, especially when we can’t fully comprehend what the other person means. Have patience and be curious.
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Evan Brooks is a third-year Business Management major with minors in Economics and Civil and Professional Leadership. EB916132@wcupa.edu