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What are Good Communication Skills?

What are good communication skills?

What are good communication skills?

Communication may be defined as "the accurate transfer of information and / or emotion from one mind to another".

Good communication skills are defined as those techniques that allow for accurate transfer of information.

Communication skills fall into three main categories:

  1. Linguistic (speaking and writing).
  2. Voice tonality.
  3. Body language and appearance.

This blog focuses on speaking and writing skills.

In any communication there is always the risk of misunderstanding between the transmitter of the message and the receiver. This misunderstanding may be due to a variety of factors.

1. Avoid the use of ambiguous language

Ambiguous language is where words that may be interpreted in more than one way. An example of an ambiguous phrase is, "as soon as possible" or "ASAP".

Where the transmitter intends a particular word to be interpreted one way, yet the receiver interprets the same word in a different way, a misunderstanding occurs.

The communication skill is to minimise the risk of misinterpretation, by always defining any ambiguous term.

2. Do not assume prior knowledge

The transmitter may assume too much prior knowledge in the mind of the reader, and thus relies on an intellectual context that is not present. The transmitter therefore leaves more questions than answers in the mind of the receiver, leaving the receiver confused and slightly depressed at their lack of understanding.

The communication skill to master is to write according to your prospective readers knowledge base, not your own.

3. Don't overwhelm with too much information

The transmitter may overload the receiver, by providing too much information too quickly. It is essential to bear in mind that the human mind is limited in its ability to process information. Most people can retain only approximately seven pieces of information in their short-term memory, before the memory is full and the person suffers cognitive overload. The transmitter unwittingly violates the rules of epistemology and exceeds the capacity of the receiver's short-term memory to process information.

The communication skill to master is: Don't overload the reader with too much information in any one sentence.

Reduce the load on the readers short term memory.

Three communication skills for you to master.

1. To minimise the risk of misinterpretation, always define any ambiguous term. (Further reading: How language causes confusion)

2. Use your readers knowledge-base as your frame of reference.

3. Don't overwhelm people with too much information. Reduce the load on their short term memory.

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Further Reading in Communication - Clear Communication

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