The important tools for communication are reflective listening, identifying nonverbal cues, and responding with understanding and using effective problem solving techniques. Thus, these techniques of communication are useful to increase your personal effectiveness at home, at work, in the community, in relationships, and with yourself. Opening up yourself to your feelings and the feelings of others requires practice.
All forms of life upon the planet Earth were granted one great and wondrous gift: the gift of communication. Instead of being forced to exist in solitude, this gift allows interaction, a sharing of feelings. Humans are especially fortunate because they have developed many ways to use their gift. These include music, dance, art, theater, literature, gestures, the written word, and word of mouth. The creation of different ways to communicate does not mean we can sit back and take our gift for granted. When we were infants, all we needed to do was cry and our desire for food, a clean diaper, or love and nurturing companionship was met. Now that we are older, however, we can no longer count on others to interpret our cries. We must use our gift of communication effectively through clarification, patience, understanding, sympathy, intelligence, compassion, and tact; we must exercise self- control so others can use the gift of communication by careful, effective listening. By sharing this gift of communication mankind is exalted.
The following tools of communication should be sharpened and polished for effective communication:
The extent of vocabulary and choice of appropriate words: The use of words depends not only on the given subject but also on the occasion, media, the type of communication receivers, and the conditions under which a person communicates. The essential vocabulary for discussing a technical problem in an engineering industry will be different from that which is used for a similar purpose in an agricultural industry. A communicator can be found using different vocabulary for the oral and written media. Similarly, one will use different vocabulary while expressing his thoughts before the people in different walks of life. In every communication situation, the choice of appropriate words aims at adapting them to the understanding of the receivers. Technical vocabulary may be essential for discussions on technical problems among the group of professionals, but if such vocabulary is used before the general public or to a layman, it will not be properly understood. The jargons and technical words are intelligible only to the people working in a particular field and such words can sound strange and misleading to the common man. The journalists, good writers, and speakers generally use standard vocabulary. It is appropriate for all occasions and for all the people.
Colloquial and slag words: Colloquial words and expressions can be used in informal communications situations, especially in informal social groups, but it can be object able in formal speech and writing. Slang is a vocabulary, which consists of widely current and humor words. It also refers to violent and abusive use of words in a language. It is commonly used in talk but it is unsuitable for good writing and speech at formal occasions.
Efficacy of words: A successful communicator carefully selects the words, which have positive connotations. He is keenly aware of the receiver’s potential reactions to his words. He anticipates the possible interpretations of the words by the audience or the reader who receive the message. He uses concrete words that carry specific and clear meaning instead of using abstract words that carry vague meaning. Avoid pompous words and use simple everyday words. Positive words used at the beginning of the message, or at the time of greeting someone face-to-face, can create warm, friendly, and comfortable atmosphere. Similarly, a lengthy message can have its negative effect on the receiver. Most people value their time so unnecessary words should be avoided and correct words selected to express thoughts and feelings.
Along with the words selected in a particular sentence, correctness in grammar, spelling, and tone of a sentence, variety in sentence pattern, special emphasis on ideas, conciseness of expression, length of a sentence, phrases in a sentence, repetition and the style of speech and writing are some of the factors to study effectiveness in a sentence.
Variety in sentence structure: Variety in sentence structure is required for effective speech and writing. In order to avoid monotony, the successive sentences should be written in variety of sentence structure. Repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of every sentence results in monotony. Similarly if every sentence follows the same pattern, the message will be dull and monotonous. Use variety of sentence patterns, as it will stimulate the receiver’s interest in the message and thereby help him to read the message carefully and to understand it thoroughly.
Repetition of words, phrases, and clauses: A series of sentences, each consisting co-ordinate clauses connected by ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘but’ can result in a monotonous message. Careless repetition of the same sentence pattern is often a result of communicator’s limited vocabulary and inadequate knowledge of phrase and clause structure. It may also result from his unwillingness to make efforts for finding a substitute sentence pattern to express the same thought or feeling. In order to avoid the repetition of certain words belonging to a certain part of speech, the communicator has either to change the sentence pattern or has to substitute the word with a synonym. A word can have several shades of meanings, but the same word should not be used in two or more different senses in the same sentence.
Giving special emphasis: A short sentence can be a means of effective expression if it is used properly. If a thought or an idea is to be given a stand or prominence, it can be conveniently placed in the pattern of a short simple sentence. But, the habitual use of short sentence usually results in a jerky style of speech or writing. In order to avoid the habitual use of short sentences, care must be taken to restrict the use of short sentences for the purpose of giving special emphasis on a particular thought or idea in the mind of the communicator. While emphasizing certain idea in a sentence orally, the communicator can make use of the variations in his voice and gestures, but, while emphasizing it in a written sentence, he can underline or capitalize certain words, phrases, or clauses. He can position the key word at the beginning of the sentence to draw attention of the reader to the key idea. The most prominent positions in a sentence are the beginning and the end, and such positions in a sentence are the key words. Thus by transporting a word from its normal position to the beginning of the sentence, the writer places the word on the stage. Similarly, he can end a sentence with a worthwhile emphatic word or phrase.
Conversational Tone: The communicator must use pleasant and positive conversational words in the sentences constructed in active voice. The active voice sentences are more direct, more forceful and thereby more conversational than the sentences written in passive voice. A common fault in the effort of achieving conversational tone of a sentence occurs when the communicator uses pet words and phrases to describe people, places, actions, occasions, and objects. The unnecessary, overused, and superfluous words and phrases, like ‘you know’, ‘you see’, ‘do you get my point’, should be eliminated from the conversation.
3. THE PARAGRAPH
A paragraph is a group of related sentences that deal with a distinct unit of thought for a specific purpose of developing the subject of an article. Each sentence in a paragraph presents a smaller division of thought and each paragraph, as a part of an article as whole is concerned with a different unit of thought that contributes to the development of theme.
Organization of thoughts and ideas: Every sentence in a paragraph has definite purpose of contributing a smaller division of thought to the development of the topic. The first sentence of a paragraph usually opens with the main idea and the following sentences are used for presenting supporting material. Presenting the relevant facts at the beginning and announcing the main idea or final decision at the end is an indirect approach pattern. The end of the paragraph comes logically after the discussion of the main and supporting material of the paragraph. Sometimes it restates the topic statement sentence with which the paragraph begins. Third way of paragraph ending is to paraphrase the topic by giving an exact statement of the ideas covered in the paragraph.
Coherence: There must be logical relation between any two successive paragraphs, which consists two different phases of thoughts. In the succeeding para the discussion in the previous paragraph is completed. The paragraphs, which are closely and logically related in thoughts, are grouped together. Using the transition devices between them indicates the logical sequence between such paragraphs.
Length of paragraphs: The length of each paragraph in a letter, memo, or report can have its visual impact on the reader. Besides the cognitive effect of its thought content, the visual effect of the length of a paragraph can be a controlling factor of the reader’s reactions. The heavy blocks of long paragraphs certainly discourage the reader to continue his reading. The short paragraphs, on the other hand, break up the heavy look of the reading material. The visual impact of too many short paragraphs is as negative as that of the overly long paragraph. The thought in short paragraphs can be more readily grasped than that in the larger ones, but each paragraph in itself should have sufficient importance to be treated as a separate and properly developed paragraph.
In oral communication we use pauses, intonations, gestures, volume and non-verbal body language to help the receiver to see the ‘points of division’ and the ‘relation in thought’ between the words, phrases, clauses and sentences. But, these and many other tools of oral communication are not avoidable to us in written communication. In a written message, punctuation helps the reader to understand the points of division in the sentences. Punctuation marks allow us to tell the reader about the pauses and points of division that further indicate the relation in thought between those groups in the sentence. Punctuation bridges or breaks the thought content of the words or word groups in a sentence. If the appropriate punctuation marks are not used, the writer will not be able to impart clear message to the reader. When the punctuation marks are used in wrong manner, it shows false division and wrong relationship between the groups. It can ultimately lead to misunderstanding and confusion.