Communication is an important tool that helps us connect with people. It is a process of interaction between humans and their environment.
According to American business writer Dalton E McFarland, communication is “a process of meaningful interaction among human beings. More specifically, it is the process by which meanings are perceived and understandings are reached among human beings.” These interactions include the exchange of information through words, signs, symbols, expressions, etc. Communication also includes transmission and reception of information through words, voice and body language.
In "The Importance of Effective Communication", a paper by Edward G. Wertheim, PhD. Northeastern University, “We can reinforce, contradict, substitute, complement, or emphasize our verbal communication with non - verbal cues like gestures, expressions and vocal inflection.” Non - verbal cues are stronger as it causes individuals to regard them as “true” communication that provides real cues and emotions.
Photo Credit: https://www.thesmallbusinesssite.co.za/2017/08/16/body-language-101-impression-sharing/
The Hmong community who mainly lives in southern China and Vietnam, who communicate by whistling, is a classic example. Though their tunes sound like mere music, they have meaning, used to communicate in the fields and while hunting. Couples also use personalised tunes to share their ideas and emotions.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, there can be a sense of mistrust when body language does not correspond with what is being verbalized. So, it can be said that communication is effective when it produces the desired reaction in the audience.
When it comes to academia, communication with teachers and classmates builds a fruitful channel of information interchange. In an organisation, communication facilitates the exchange and flow of information between people and departments using different channels and networks.
Nowadays, communication is regarded as an important soft skill in the corporate world. It may be written, oral, formal, informal, interpersonal, intrapersonal, interdepartmental, or intra-organisational. Jack Dorsey’s Silicon Valley-based mobile payments company “Square” has a unique policy - whenever two people have a meeting, one takes down notes and shares it with the other employees.
Another type of communication is branding. According to the American Marketing Association, “branding is defined as a name, sign or symbol, which is designed to identify a seller's goods or services.” Emotion is powerful in a brand because it is an effective way to connect with the audience. Every company strives for this kind of communication in its advertising.
Airbnb, an online marketplace, is built on such communication through storytelling. Their “Belong Anywhere” rebranding communicates consumer experiences through short films - a unique form of communication - this establishes trust between the consumer and the company. “Belonging has always been a fundamental driver of humankind. So to represent that feeling, we've created a symbol for us as a community,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote in a blog post.
Since time immemorial, lack of coherence in the words we choose, the tone with which we deliver and the intention of what we want to deliver has created misinformation and confusion, resulting in disputes.
Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s Moses sculpture has been debated over for years. When Moses returned to his people after meeting God, he is believed to have been “glowing”. In Hebrew, this can be misread as “(having a) horn”, based on how one writes it. Though miscommunication took place, it also led to one of the best Michelangelo statues.
By Jörg Bittner Unna - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46476441
Recently, Tanishq’s ad -- portraying a pregnant Hindu woman being escorted to her baby shower by her Muslim mother-in-law -- was referred to as “fake secularism” and withdrawn. This shows how the intention of what we want to deliver can lead to miscommunication and disputes.
Such issues can be handled with effective communication. When communication is effective, it leaves everyone satisfied and there is no room for misunderstanding. Hence, while communication is a means to interchange data, effective communication is an art to put across one's thoughts, ideas and expressions.