Friday, July 3, 2015

Communication is something that we are constantly doing as we try to interact between and among ourselves.  In ordinary language, to communicate means to get someone to understand your thoughts.  Hence we communicate every time, irrespective of our levels of education, wealth, authority or responsibility. Human communication is a dynamic process of sharing information between and among individuals.

Many experts define communication in different ways. But at this stage let us use these simple definitions:
Communication is a process of passing information from one person to another
Communication is the transmission of a message from a source to a receiver
communication is an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more persons

While opinions may be communicated through words, on the other hand emotions communicate non-word information. Often we may have come across words of high praise in a scoffing tone or high sounding expression of bravery just as a mask to conceal a person's timidity (normally betrayed by his facial expression).

So, looking at the above definitions we can conclude that the objective of communication is to send or receive information about a particular fact or circumstance.

Often times we communicate through language. Language is a system of arbitrary symbols accepted and used by a particular group of people to achieve communication (understanding) among them. Language achieves communication by use of words(spoken or written).

But communication goes beyond the use of words. People can communicate without using any word for example when they dress in a particular way, or nod their head, et cetera. This shows that communication is a broader concept than what language covers.

Language has the following characteristics:
(1). It is an organization of sounds to convey a coherent message
(2). It is a social phenomenon and therefore is used for social interaction
(3). Language is arbitrary in the sense that there is no logical link between any given feature of a language and the meanings conveyed (why the words or symbols:chair [English], kiti [Swahili], isumbi [sukuma] for the same item?)
(4).Language is systematic. It uses symbols in a specific arrangement (words are arranged in a particular order to achieve a desired meaning. If those words are arranged haphazardly, the meaning may not be achieved)
(5).Language is uniquely human. Only human beings use language and their creativity makes language modifiable and extendable.

Types Of Communication
As hinted above, there are two major types of communication. First is the communication that uses words (called “verbal communication”) and the second is the communication that does not use words (called “non-verbal communication”). Each of those types of communication covers several forms of communication as we shall see in the main course. Things included under verbal communication are written and spoken words. Non-verbal communication includes body language, signs, graphics, drawings, et cetera.

Channels Of Communication
Communication takes certain ways to reach people. These ways (called “channels”) by which the message is sent  include: the written form (channel), oral (spoken) form (channel), audio form (channel), visual form (channel), et cetera. 

Communication Process
In its simplest form, the communication process begins with the Sender and ends with the Receiver.  The sender is the person who sees the need to communicate his thoughts, feelings, anxiety, directives, orders, advice or whatever idea to another person.  The receiver is the person to whom the message is sent. 

In truth, however, Communication is not a one way business; it involves feedback or the reaction from the person who receives the message.  And by sending a feedback the receiver changes role in the communication process and becomes a sender himself/herself.

Elements Of Communication
One way to understand communication is through studying what we call “the elements of communication”. These are the key things involved in the communication act.  They include the following:

(1). Message/idea/information – the content of the communication act

(2). Sender/source/encoder -the person or thing that initiates or starts the communication process by sending a message

(3). Goal/purpose-the intention of the sender
(4). Channel-the way by which the message is sent e.g written form, oral form, audio form, etc.  The channel uses different mediums (means) to send the information to receiver. 

(5). Receiver/decoder– the thing or person to whom the message is sent

(6). Response/ feedback – the reaction of the receiver after receiving the message

The Need For Effective Communication
Effective communication is about getting your point across to your listeners without causing misunderstanding and confusion.  In other words, it is a process of passing your message to other people clearly and unambiguously.  It’s also about receiving information that others are sending to you, with as little distortion as possible.

In order for us to communicate effectively we need to apply the communication skills we learn into all our speaking, listening, reading, writing and non-verbal communication.  Effective communication is something we need to learn and practice.

Importance Of Communication Skills To Different Professionals
Studies have indicated that the ability to communicate effectively has now become an important job requirement in business organizations and is the most essential requisite for promotion of the executives. In some job areas like personnel management, public relations, marketing and labour relations, exceptional communication skills are needed. Editors, writers, teachers, advocates and researchers also need a highly developed ability to communicate. However, everyone needs better communication skills irrespective of their jobs. Whether you are training to become an accountant, business administrator, procurement officer or an IT professional, you need the skills of communicating well to achieve your business and employment goals.

Because communication is so important in business, businesses want and need people with good communication skills. Unfortunately, the business need to have employees with good communication skills is all too often not fulfilled. Most employees, even the college trained do not communicate well. The communication shortcomings of employees and the importance of communication in business should be a good reason for you to work to improve your communication skills. Whatever position you have in business, your performance will be judged largely by your ability to communicate. If you perform well and communicate well, you are likely to be rewarded by a promotion. And the higher you climb the ladder of your organization, the more you will need the communication skills. In short, improving your communication skills improves your chances for success in business.

In general, the importance of communication skills can be summed up as follows:
(1). It facilitates clarity in expression of one's ideas
(2). It helps in creation of business and personal relationships
(3). The knowledge of communication skills helps in setting up business priorities
(4).  It helps in solving business conflicts
(5). It helps in making high quality decisions

Applying Communication Skills In Everyday Life
Once you have acquired the knowledge of communication skills, you will demonstrate  that knowledge by living the skills you will have learnt. This means that your communication skills will be demonstrated in your appearance at the college and outside the college (e.g. keeping college dress codes and other rules), in your ability to initiate and sustain peaceful relationships with your fellow students both females and males, in your ability to interact constructively with your lecturers and other college workers, in how you enter and leave people's offices and so on.

In a nutshell, the knowledge of communication skills will help you to be a thoughtful person in everything that you do and say whether you are at college, home or anywhere.

You probably know that as a student you need to have information and knowledge relating to your studies. The fact is that such information and knowledge are obtainable from different sources.

What Is Information? And What is Knowledge?
Simply stated, information means facts about something or someone. Knowledge is the understanding that someone gets from experience or education.

Sources Of Information And Knowledge
We can ask ourselves: What are the sources of information? Where do we often go to get information and knowledge to cater for our different needs?

Practically, this question is simple. Most of us get information from the following sources:
(a).books (b).pamphlets (c).journals (d).newspapers (e).magazines (f).TVs (g).Radios (h).Internet (I).listening to people’s discussions, debates, etc

For academic purposes, the best place for getting most of the above sources is a library. A modern library will have different books, journals, CDs and DVDs, magazines, newspapers, Internet, et cetera. To benefit from a library one needs to have some basic understanding of how the library works.

Using A Library
Ideally, all institutions of learning should have a library. A library is a building or place in which a collection of books, tapes, newspapers, etc are kept for people to read, study or borrow. Normally a library is for “lending” and for “reference”. Depending on each library’s policy some books can be borrowed and some books cannot be borrowed. “Reference books” cannot be taken out of the library.  This is due to the shortage of the books.

Locating A Book In A Library
Books in a library are catalogued by Subject, Title and by Author. Normally a library has updated card catalogues reflecting the subjects, titles and authors found in that library. Therefore, when looking for a book in a library go to the Subject catalogue,Title catalogue or Author catalogue depending on what you know about what you are looking for. Of course, some libraries are shifting from Card Catalogues (CC) to Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC).

There is a difference between the Subject and the Title of the book.  The subject is a wider section where different related books (titles) will be located.  The title of the book is the specific name of the book written on a card. That card also contains information about the author, publisher, date of publication, catalogue number, et cetera.

The most important information you need when you want to get a book in the library shelf is the catalogue number of the book. Why? Because getting the catalogue number will help you to easily locate the book on the shelf rather than wandering along book shelves reading every book title. If you cannot get the book ask the library assistant to help you.  May be it is missing because it has been borrowed or misplaced.

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