Communication and Communication Styles

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Communication and communication styles, verbal, non-verbal and written, are complex processes and has been described as being “circular and continuous, without end or beginning” De Vito (2007). We do both, at the same time, speaking and listening, questioning and responding in an interaction between us and others. It includes, interpersonal communication (sharing thoughts and ideas, our feelings and emotions, understanding others and being understood), self-awareness (knowing oneself), emotional intelligence (knowledge of self and others) and empathy (being aware of other people’s feelings, needs and issues). It is also, learning about each other, building rapport, breaking down communication barriers, and is essential, to building relationships throughout our lives with other people. It is the building blocks of interaction amongst human beings to fulfil our need to relate to others and the need to improve and develop our EI (Emotional Intelligence). One of the elements of emotional intelligence which is our personal power (the way we manage and control ourselves and the influence we have on others). It is something we practice naturally, on a daily basis and yet communication can still fail. We start practicing our listening skills as babies, and from there on, our parents teach us our first words and we listened to what was being said to us. As we grow and get older, we are more understanding and aware of ourselves, other people and our environment. Our need for interaction with others somehow gets more involved and more complicated. We now have partners, colleagues, bosses and friends with a whole array of potential barriers(attitudes, beliefs, values, etc.) to our communications, be it verbal and non-verbal, letters, e-mails, text messages (written communication),mobile phones (electronic channels), newspapers and magazines (media channels) to name a few. Feelings, emotions, ethics and standards, relating to those in our lives, individually, all of which are to be taken into account when practising any kind of communication. Through all of our lives we are bombarded by all these ways of communicating and we sometimes forget to listen. Listening is a skill that should be practiced as part as our day to day activities as it greatly affects effective communication and does not take a lot of time. When we learn to really listen, we can break down barriers, be sincerely supportive, receive messages accurately, understand the message and provide feedback on what was said. To develop our listening skill, we should learn to be silent, watch the speaker’s body language, sort what is needed and what is not, in our head and understand what is being said. As individuals, we all learn and process information in our own individual way. We use feedback (responses we get from others about us) as a tool to improve ourselves and to become self-aware. Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed a model, known as ‘Johari Window’. It is a model designed to help us improve and increase our self-awareness by following its four basic areas, which are, the open self (known to us, and known to others), the blind self (known to others, but not known to us), the hidden self (known to us, but not known to others) and the unknown self (not known to us, and not known to others). The purpose of the ‘Johari’ model, in most cases, is to encourage us to invite others to ‘see’ more of who we are, by being more open with ourselves and others. In doing so, the side of us that we hide from others, slowly reduces as they get to know us. Our blind spot also reduces through what others tell us, about us, allowing a new part of ourselves, that we and others didn’t know we had to come through. It encourages self-awareness, self-disclosure and positive feedback to and from others and adds to our emotional intelligence. Self-awareness is getting to know our strengths and weaknesses as they are and the unshared thoughts and feelings within us and to accept who we are....
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