While I share my thoughts on how critical mastering communication skills are for life, I will also take this opportunity to update everyone on my job/career status; the other night the two went hand-in-hand beautifully.
The update from What’s My Story?: I am now training with and soon to be working as a tutor with a well-established national educational-tutoring company helping struggling students in areas of math, reading, writing, and test-preps. This is my evening job and the primary purpose of this post. I am also currently substitute teaching in one Dallas-area school district, and soon to be substituting in a second Dallas-area school district; yes, three separate jobs to make ends meet. Despite the long hours six-days a week, I am grateful to be working again. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
The other night while observing and assisting the short-staffed learning center, one student was originally from China. He was a very bright 16-year old boy who spoke good English and has lived here about ten months. He was being tutored in advanced English writing and literature. One of his vocabulary words for the night was “exciting” and how to use it in various sentences. Of his five words to learn, this one was the most difficult for him. Tchang (as I will call him here) could not understand the difference between the uses of exciting versus excited. If you are an American having spoken English your entire life, how would you explain the differences to Tchang?
Our attempts to differentiate the two words seemed to confuse Tchang just as much as they seemed to help. After several different examples, in the end his perplexed expressions never receded. Why?
If the English language is not your native tongue, then of the world’s many thousand languages to learn, English is perhaps the hardest to speak and write. Unfortunately, Tchang was learning just how hard it can be. Empathizing with his frustration I explained it wasn’t his fault for not understanding but that it was our/my language; a very complex and often redundant language. English words and their uses can sometimes have one or a half-degree of separation, perhaps less. Yet they will indeed describe a slight difference…which leads me to my big-picture point.
Communication isn’t just a skill; it is the linchpin of one’s true identity.
If you do not master the art of communication, then life will often seem an uphill battle. This holds true just as much for those around you; their communication skills can be just as trying on your patience like trying to navigate a circus fun-house maze of meaning.
Let me merely scratch the surface of how profound communication is to life. “The ability to communicate effectively is important in relationships, education, and work.” Following are steps and tips for the development of good communication from WikiHow. After the first two highlights are explained, for the sake of time and space go to the WikiHow link for the remaining detailed explanations.
Understand the Basics
- Know what communication really is. Communication is the process of transferring signals/messages between a sender and a receiver through various methods (i.e. written words, nonverbal cues, spoken words). It is also the mechanism we use to establish and modify relationships.
- Have courage to say what you think/feel. Be confident that you can make worthwhile contributions to conversation. Take time each day (meditate?) to be aware of your opinions and feelings so you can adequately convey them to others. Individuals who are hesitant to speak because they do not feel their input would be worthwhile need not fear. What is important or worthwhile to one person may not be to another and may be more so to someone else.
Engage Your Audience
- Make eye contact constantly.
- Use gestures often.
- Don’t send mixed messages.
- Be aware of what your body is saying.
- Manifest constructive attitudes and beliefs.
- Develop effective listening skills. Think twice, speak once.
Use Your Words to Impact
- Enunciate your words.
- Pronounce your words correctly.
- Use the right words that accurately convey your thoughts and feelings.
- Slow your speech down!
Use Your Voice to Impact
- Develop your voice – A high or whiny voice is not perceived to be one of authority or authenticity.
- Animate your voice.
- Use appropriate volume.
Though some of us might think these steps/tips are well-known or even intuitive, the present history of mankind and womankind speaks to the contrary. On any level of communication, from world powers to individual family or marital relationships, communication is paramount! Perhaps it is safe to say that wherever there has been violence, hatred, or wars, there has been a massive failure of communication. Conversely, wherever there is or has been peace, love, and collaboration, there has been superb communication. Though it is not quite that simple, this generally stands true does it not?
Then there is the wrench of deception; intended or unintended. This is an entirely different matter and deserves a separate discussion, particularly intended deception. For now, I wish to dabble, or languish depending on circumstances, in the art of interpersonal language and communication, or the lack of it. Also, I have observed an unspoken hierarchy present in human interaction of which I have personally broken them down into these six following hierarchies. I’m very curious; how would YOU define them in the context of “authentic” impactful communication?
- Strangers are –
- Acquaintances are –
- Friends are –
- Close-friends, dear friends (platonic?) are –
- Lovers are –
- Soul MateS are –
Expressing one’s self to others requires understanding one’s self accurately. If you do not understand why you feel or think a certain way, or in a context how you’ve come to feel or think a certain way, then how can you accurately express it? Language and words express as much emotion as they do fact, sometimes one more than the other. How well do your words match your emotions? Better yet, how well do they match your actions or behavior? What is meant when people say “Actions speak louder than words”?
There seems to me to be a pure art of communication and language, and that purity is mysteriously hard to find sometimes not just in others, but within ourselves too. I love being around elementary kids because they still have that blatant innocence to express exactly what they think and feel that we sometimes don’t find among adults. In a group of strangers or acquaintances where little children are present, why do the adults so often invest their attention onto the children instead of the adults? I find this social condition…
I am puzzled by this blurry condition of artful candid communication today so to understand…
I wonder if it might be because as we “mature” we become more sensitive to the way others perceive us. In potential romantic relationships – for that matter even certain long-term relationships – do we sacrifice authenticity to be more loved? And if that is the case, then isn’t that living an illusion? Is it because of a fear of rejection that we do not communicate authentically but in diluted forms in order to be served in some way?
I would very much like to hear any and all feedback on the condition of modern communication; modern verbal communication in interpersonal relationships particularly. How do you find the art of interpersonal communication? From the 6 hierarchies above, is it right or wrong to authentically communicate another’s ‘status’ or ‘ranking’ in your heart?
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