When communicating with others, it is important to consider some of the general principles of communication. These principles exist for all human beings no matter what ethnicity or culture they may be a part of. By learning about these principles and understanding them, you will make your efforts more effective which will help you overcome barriers to communication.
Principles of Communication #1: Communication is Constant
You are always in a state of communication. Many times, we think that our communication ceases when we stop talking. But we often forget that our non-verbal communication is always displaying signs and cues that often reflect what we are feeling or thinking on the inside. Though we cease our verbal communication, our facial expressions, gestures, time management and even the clothing choice or the music we listen to all provide non-verbal messages that others are left to perceive and interpret. When we do communicate verbally, our tone of voice, pitch, volume, how fast we’re speaking and all the “ums” and “ahs” that we’re using can convey what we’re thinking and feeling underneath the words that are spoken.
A transaction of communication can be viewed as the meanings of the message that are being negotiated by the two people involved. Often the message that one person sends is different from what another person receives. This transaction is complex as it depends on the background of who is involved, the environment and the effect that the communication has on each other. When viewing the principles of communication in this manner, it is important to be sensitive to the other and aware of how they receive the message, not solely on trying to get our message across in our own understanding. Our focus must shift from ourselves to the receiving person so that our messages are sent with greater sensitivity and respect.
#3: Communication is a Process
The process of communication is like a river, it is always continuous, always changing. Only by viewing all the individual words, sentences and gestures as an ongoing process are we able to begin understanding and appreciating the importance of communication. One sentence may not have much meaning by itself, but when viewed in context of the whole conversation, it takes on a whole new meaning. To fully understand the principles of communication process, we must look at the influence that our words and actions have on the recipient of the message.
#4: Communication is Irreversible
You can’t un-see what you’ve seen much like you can’t un-hear that you’ve heard. “Forget about what I just said” are things that we’ve probably said before when trying to undo something that we regret doing. Although the recipient of that message may agree to forget about it, the truth is that those criticisms or hurtful acts can last a long time. However, on the flipside, if you provide positive words and uplifting praise for another person, those deeds can also have a long lasting impression. This understanding of the irreversibility of communication can help you to build up or tear down another person. Choose wisely.
#5: Communication is Learned
More often than not, our behaviors and principles of communication are learned from the culture and society that we live in. The vocabulary we use, the gestures, physical touch and what we wear are just a few examples of learned communication behavior. Most people view their way of communication as the “right” way since everyone around them is doing the same. Because of this shortsightedness, they may have trouble communicating with someone on a deep level from another culture if they don’t change their communication style. This principle suggests that it is possible to unlearn and acquire new methods of communication when you try to improve communication skills. This opens doors for us as it means that we can replace our current inefficient and unhealthy ways of communication with other more effective methods.
#6: Communication is Creative
Your communication and the effect it has on others do not happen spontaneously. You have the choice to make it happen and how to approach it. You can be silent. You can use your listening skills and listen intently before providing feedback. You may use different types of words for emphasis. You use gestures and have facial expressions for emphasis. Even the clothes you choose to wear and how you decorate your room send a message to someone. With communication you are always choosing to create something whether you know it or not. Knowing these principles of communication can help you understand what effects your words and sentences will have.