Communication - we come across this word many times a day. In our software field, it is used quite often especially by managers, HR and clients. Though we hear of it in the context of professional skills, it is a very important skill to lead happy, enlightened lives.
Sadly most people understand it to mean fluency over English language, or something that only managers or professionals need to cultivate. Even in our day-to-day dealings with family and friends, communication skills go a long way in bridging gaps in (mis)understanding and cementing relationships. Informing your spouse and/or parent(s) of your whereabouts whenever you know you are not going to be home as expected, thanking a friend for his/her kind action, acknowledging a sibling's somber mood and inquiring about it - all these are standard examples of good communication skills.
Most people are not aware of the terms - closing the communication loop, responding, assertive communication. I have a relative - whenever I call her she ends up doing most of the talking. Now, I'm considered a chatterbox in my own family, so to be rendered speechless by this person is no small feat. Initially I used to feel frustrated when the reason I had originally called her never came up as we ended up discussing something that she brought up. I then started interrupting her to get my word in. But I found that even my interruptions were ignored. Lately I've begun to be more assertive. When I call, I take over the conversation such that she is forced to respond in yes/no kind of monosyllables. Of course, having learned from experience, I do let her have her say once I'm done with mine.
When someone invites you over email or on phone, common courtesy demands that you let the other person know clearly if you are coming or not. Even if you know that your attendance is tentative for now, it is important to respond. Whether its a friend, family or your colleague in office- everyone deserves to be shown this courtesy. If someone introduces you to someone in order too help you out, you owe it to the first person to close the communication loop by thanking him/her for introducing you.
Being able to speak in fluent English, or with/without an accent, doesn't qualify one as a good communicator. For language or words are only a tool of communication. Even deaf and dumb people, animals and babies communicate. They use body language, sign language, grunts, cries, tantrums etc to communicate. Knowing which channels of communication(viz. mail, phone, meeting) to use when also helps. Spouses arguing with each other by leaving letters not only prolong the quarrel, but also leave evidence of the quarrel (the letter) for future reference. Conflicts, emotions and all sensitive communication should be addressed in personal meetings as far as possible - this is applicable even in a professional environment. Where one-on-one meeting is not possible, phone can be used. Mail or written communication should be used as the last resort as it does not involve major clues communicated via facial expressions, eye contact & tone of voice and are subject to frequent misinterpretation.
Silence is also a form of communication. However, it should not be used to mean negation by default. Not responding to a person's invitation does not mean that you will not attend. You need to specifically say no. In the same way, when a girl is silent when you propose to her, do not jump to the conclusion that she is going to refuse you. She is probably thoughtful about your proposal and needs time to think. Silence is best used in arguments for it is the toughest argument to refute!
And finally, a word regarding acknowledgment. When I write something in my blog, I expect my readers to acknowledge it by leaving a comment :)
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