Communication Apprehension

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Interpersonal Communication and Communication Apprehension

One of the major fears that people have is the fear of communication. The fear of

speaking is a real issue that everyone needs to recognize. It does exist and will continue

to exist without the proper education against it. Have you ever had a hard time talking in

a certain situation? Have you ever tried to give a speech and just froze? Have you ever

felt discomfort, pressure, nervousness, pain or stress towards communication? Then you

have experienced "Communication Apprehension". Communication Apprehension is

defined as an "Individual level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or

anticipated communication with another person or persons." (McCrosky, 1977)

Everyone from time to time has experienced some apprehension toward

communication. However, some individuals really experience this issue on a day-to-day

basis. "About one of every five persons--20 percent of all college students--is

communication apprehensive...Communication apprehensive people may not

appear apprehensive unless they are engaging in a particular type of communication."

(Pearson & Nelson, An Introduction to human Communication, p. 224). The most

common issue of Communication apprehension is in speaking in front of an audience.

Here there is a fear of what people are going to think or say about what you are talking

about in front of the audience. I have personally experienced this several times

throughout my life.
Communication Apprehension can be distinguished into two levels: Those with a

low form (low CA) and those with a high form (high CA). People with a high level of

CA contain high levels of anxiety when it comes to communication. They feel more

comfortable when alone and isolated. They tend to have lower self-esteem, and have a

high level of fear of communicating with others. People with a low CA do have some

uneasiness in communicating, but can control it to an extent. This would

probably characterize those who, although get a little nervous when making a speech, get

over it, and speak fairly well. Although they speak well, they still experience

nervousness, and anxiety about speaking, but they control it. Apart from a severe feeling

of discomfort a person with high levels of CA experiences when communicating, certain

physiological effects could also be present like rapid beating of the heart, some

shakiness, a dry mouth and increased perspiration.

Because of their fear or anxiety, people with high levels of CA try to

avoid communication where possible, like choosing jobs where communication plays

a minor role, or choose a seat in a classroom or meeting where they would not be very

conspicuous. They would avoid communication by saying only that which is necessary

or speak only when called upon. Research indicates that people with high levels of CA

generally have lower self-esteem, do not occupy managerial posts, are not very assertive

and students' academic achievements are lower than those with average to low levels

of CA (Richmond & McCroskey, 1989:52-59). At this stage, it should be clear the CA

does influence the quality of life of individuals and has a harmful effect on especially

interpersonal relationships.

What causes communication apprehension? Researchers have identified five

common concerns that contribute to the fear and anxiety associated with public speaking.

These include the speaker's previous public speaking experiences, fear of being in the

spotlight, fear of being judged, amount of preparation for the speech and amount of

experience (or lack thereof) in delivering a speech.

One of the first steps in overcoming speech anxiety is identifying the reasons you

feel apprehensive in public speaking situations....
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