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
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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