Communication is an important facet of life. Communication skills are essential in all spheres of life. Be it an interview or dealing with the project leader or working out a solution with a team or writing a report, getting across the point effectively is what matters.
The success of an endeavour hinges on the ability to communicate effectively in today’s fast paced life, everyone is asked to do more with less. In such a scenario effective communication holds the key. Effectively communication centers round the usage of words, speed of delivery of words, pitch modulation and body language. Using the right tools to communicate the right messages at the right time can salvage a crises and motivate people to work towards success. Truly said, communication works but for those who work at it. In the existing globalization scenario, most of the Information Technology, I.T Enabled Services, management institutes, public and private sector, multi-national Companies, Union Public Service Commission, and State Public Service Commission are search for a right and suitable fresher for executive posts. Whatever be the recruiting criteria that I.T, ITES, industry giants had in their agenda, once this was clear a first class degree would not serve the purpose, the candidate have to satisfy the skill sets that the companies were looking for. And unanimously, the skills set that they were looking for communication skills.
People in organisations usually spends 75 percent of their daily time on communication through writing, reading, listening, speaking, inter-debate etc. Effective communication is an essential component for organisation success, whether it is the interpersonal intra group organisation or external levels. A recent newspaper report said that our of very hundred interviews, only five qualified for the employability. It is not that were technically not sound but they lacked in communication skills. Communication skills are as important as technical qualifications for youngsters aiming at a bright career. Communications hold the key. Poor communication skills, low confidence levels and improper body language have resulted out in the job race. The person recruited will have to deal with the global clients directly. The command over the language and accent neutralization also plays a vital role in the recruitment process.
I had an opportunity to visit the Engineering colleges, Agricultural College, Fishery Science College, P.G Institutes etc, during the last seven years and trained large number of students. While interacting with them, I found that majority of them are from rural areas and they need a brief notes and detailed training programmes to equip their skills, techniques and competence in communication. I also observed during the course of discussion, that even urban and city youth too require motivation for upgrading and sharpening life skills.
Importance of Communication
In the present day information revolution and formation of knowledge societies, centers etc, the importance of communication has increased manifold. The importance of communication management and in day to day life of people can be judge from the following points.
Communication Raises aspirations:
- Project the future in the present
- Raise awareness. Meet information needs.
- Motivates the people for a purpose.
- Communication is for development of the individual organisation, society, nation, country.
- Communications helps the administration in arriving quick decision and implementation.
- Good communication is essential for proper planning and coordination.
- Effective communication has a special role play, particularly in an under developed country like India where most of the workers are illiterate.
- A Manager’s/ Executive’s success is conditioned by his ability to understand the needs and requirements of both employees and customers.
- Better communication helps better job performance.
- Effective and timely communication promotes cordial relations and work culture among the employees for increasing production and creates healthy and happy environment within and outside the organisation.
- ‘Communication’ is a key instrument to create relations, to strengthen relations between the two people or a group of people. Without communication methods, there is no human relations and human relations rehires effective communication methods, tools, positive words, skills etc.
Students Problems in Communication (Individual):
I have diagnosed a number of problems which acts as hurdles for effective communication. Individual problems of students are given below:
- Some students write well, but they are not able to express themselves orally.
- Some speak fluently, but cannot write without grammatical errors.
- Some are comfortable speaking among themselves in a small group, but are not comfortable facing the audience.
- Some having problems with their body language and use inappropriate with others, some find it difficult to maintain eye contact.
- Some are always misunderstood.
Students’ problem in Communication (In Group Communication):
- Limited vocabulary
- Inaccurate grammar
- Lack of fluency
- Imperfect pronunciation
- Lack of active listening
- Fear of speaking in public
- Fear of expressing certain views
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of group skills
- Fear of making mistakes
- Lack of exposure and practice
To be successful, a person requires an integrated ser of communication skills. These skills comprise, writing skills, speech skills, listening skills, non verbal skills. One should have communication skills, while reading, writing, listening, speaking, conversation with various groups of people, government officials, bankers, family members etc.
Writing in other words, is above all for communication for conveying ideas and feelings from one minds to another mind. The hall marks of good writing are the hall marks of good communication.
- Accuracy, appropriateness, attentiveness, to your audience, avoiding of ambiguity.
- Brevity or conciseness, brightness or buoyancy.
- Correctness, clarity, consistency, concreteness
- Early morning works well for many
- Plan to write three to five notes minimum daily.
- Shorter sentence pack more power. They are also easier to read and understand
- Should be clear, brief content, contextuality, important points to be covered.
- Use sweet words, simple language, be legible, be clear and be concise and readable.
- Write and rewrite until you are able to capture the idea in one sentence.
Reading is skill by itself, which requires aspirants to make simple changes in their approach to master the talent. For a better grip over communication and languages skills, a student should give sufficient time to reading every day. This should be done on a daily basis so that the memory gets refreshed with the knowledge. This is why reading occupies a prime place in the skills set of a person. The youth are advised to bear the following tips while reading.
- Read inspirational or motivational books
- Subscribe to newspaper, newsletters, periodicals journals of your interest to update your knowledge.
- Read the life history of great leaders, scientists, academicians, technocrats etc.
- Underline the important points, note down the difficult words, consult the dictionary.
- Habituate concentration improve vocabulary.
- By reading book, one can improve his way of expression.
- Books are temples of knowledge.
- Books motivate the young mind and activate to read the subject, language and also enhance reading habits.
- Books play a vital role in the mental development of youth.
- The great ideas will definitely help the readers in later life. So read, mark, learn and inwardly digest what is their in the books.
Speaking Skills :
The importance of art of the speaking is now more kneel felt than ever before. Whether one is an executive, an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, Software professional, a public relations practitioner, a journalist, an accountant or a politician, he cannot be successful without knowing how to speak. A good speaker is a good listener too. Knowledge, confidence and delivery are the basic elements of an effective speech and that requires training. One has to develop self-confidence and try to remove fear of psychosis slowly. The following points to be know in mind before you speak.
- Think before you speak.
- Know your message
- Know something about the audience.
- Get the points quickly. Then, it is easier for the listener to remember what you said.
- Plan and prepare in advance what you want to day and what you want to approach.
- Use easy language and use simple words.
- Give importance to the subject and Voice should be sweet.
- Modulate your tones as per the topic.
- Illustrate with examples.
- Stick to the time schedule.
- Have the facts and respond well to questions.
Listening skills are one of the important part of communication processes. Here are some of the characteristics of a good listener.
- You must have patience.
- Openness and desire to understand.
- Concentration, intelligence and maintain eye contact.
- Resist distractions and encourage speaker.
- Summarize to clarify.
- Have empathy
- Take time to listen
- Look attentive
- Don’t interrupt
- Show interest
- Listening and expression is given paramount importance in team work and building better inter-personal relations at the work place.
- Team aspirations can be met only by proper listening. This gives a chance to think of better ideas both at individual and team levels.
There are several ways of listening which come into play in different situations and serve different roles at the work place. These are: Passive, Informative, Evaluative, Appreciative, Emphatic and Therapeutic.
Factors that hamper listening:
- Detest the speaker
- Lack of interest in the subject
- External distractions
- Inappropriate inferences
- Ineffective communication skills (of the speaker)
- Self induced distraction
How to improve listening:
One should improve listening by concentration, patience and interest in teh subject. maintain eye contact and do not allow anything to distract you. Also pay attention to the body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures of the speaker. It will give right perspective of the message. Try to make discussion interactive and lively. Do not ignore an important point.
Listening is an art that can be mastered by practice. So practice listening and improve your communication skills and in turn your team relations. If we listen to others, we can also learn so may new things in a short span of time. A good listener is a real learner. By listening to others, one can get to know a wide variety of views, ideas and thoughts.
“Conversation” is defined as ‘an informal talk involving a small group of people or only two on a particular subject or selected topics’. The aim of this skill is to help you to become a good conversationalist.
Conversation should be like a Tennis match, each person having his turn to give and receive. The true art of conversation is talking and listening. Good conversation requires delicacy and tact, give and take.
- Allow your conversation partner to speak.
- Respect the other person’s point of view.
- concentrate on the conversation. Only hearing rather than listening will cause you to miss vital information.
- Find out what your listener wants. To gain the most from any conversation, focus on your listener. Ask questions and listen to the responses.
- Define terminology so there is less chance of misunderstanding.
- Speaker and listener should maintain cordial and friendly atmosphere.
- Clarify each other any misunderstandings and solve the problems by accepting amicable solution.
INTERVIEWS – ROLE OF COMMUNICATION
The interview is a two way process of communication where you need to introduce yourself to the company. There are three types of interviews for professional jobs and executive positions like information technology, science and technology, medicine, engineering, agriculture, charted accountants, company secretaries, business, marketing, sales communicators, management, public relations, civil services etc.
The types of interviews are – (1) Personal interview (2) Subject/ Technical Interview and (3) Group Discussion. In all the three interviews, your intellectual abilities, communication skills, language skills, way of walking into interview hall, initiative and drive etc., will be observed and judged. you must be well prepared and present with an objective of “first impression is the last impression”.
Preparation and confidence
Interview is a major obstacle for many job seekers. Although you have the qualifications, experience, and proven track record, you may lose ‘better interviews’. so what does ‘inteviewing better’ actually mean? It comes down to you being well prepared and confident. You can answer questions in a way which is acceptable but not necessarily right to the interviewer, and you also know something about potential employer’s business and hope to fill the post. These are your basic components of a ‘well prepared interview’.
Good preparation instills confidence. The basic approach to an interview is to be well prepared. This means two things-preparing you practically for the interview and gathering knowledge and information you can draw on during the interview.
Continuous learning and practice is essential for a person who seeks employment. You should spend 18 hours per day and do hard work, home work, team work, smart work and net work.
- Utilize the facilities that are available and avail the opportunities in developing the knowledge, update the knowledge, preserve the knowledge and apply knowledge.
- Do not go to the interview laden down with baggage – psychological as well as physical. Take the bare minimum belonging necessary. Concentrate on the interview at the interview – nothing else.
- If you are asked to bring original certificates, references, passport size photos etc. get them ready the day before. Take your interview letter.
- Plan to reach the city where the venue of the interview is fixed, a day in advance to avoid last minute tension and reach the venue half-an-hour easy on the day of interview.
1. Personal interview
Personal interview plays a critical role in the selection process of the company. Personal interview is conducted by the human resource department of the company. Some of the areas you may be evaluated on the personal interview are:
- Communication skills
- Reasoning ability
- Leadership abilities
- Nurturing ability
- Ability to receive and give constructive criticism
- Stress management
- Ability to motivate oneself
- Time, resourcefulness and priority management skills
- Personality – inner and outer beauty.
Rehears yourself two or three days before attending interview. Build your self-esteem and confidence. This includes your strengths and weaknesses, your accomplishments, reviewing your strong and weak subjects and recording some of the key decisions you have made in your life. You should also review interests, the disappointments you have encountered in the past, your work environment, likes and dislikes, your business and personal values, human values and ethics, your goals, needs restrictions and life style preferences.
2. Subject / Technical interview
Your technical / subject competence, strategies, professional skills, your projects, assignment which you have prepared during your studies, earlier experiences and impressions gained in internship programme, creativity, initiative, drive, interest in the subject and improving knowledge etc., will be tested in depth. Your concepts and mindset will also be judged.
The interview will be handled by a team of technical experts or subject matter specialists of the organization.
As a part of a technical interview which would require you to go back to your books, project reports, assignments etc., and brush up on certain facts and figures and discussion on general awareness for which you need to read the newspapers, periodicals, foreign journals, everyday. Also watch group discussion, interviews, quiz competitions, current affairs programmes. Telecast by certain private channels to acquire latest information and developments on various fields.
3. Group Discussion
Group Discussion is all about communicating with a group of people. Group discussion is not just talking about a given topic or expressing one’s version. In academic circles it is popularly known as GD. Normally, in a group discussion, a candidate is tested in terms of group behaviour, communication skills, content collection and leadership attributes. A set of persons brought together to express their opinion and the subsequent exchange of views on an allocated subject is a group discussion.
Group discussions are held as a part of recruitment process, as a part of eliciting views, opinion, ideas on any subject or plan of action, as a part of decision making, problem solving, as a part of reaching a consensus etc. Why group discussions are held? – In the recruitment process, when a large number of candidates are present, group discussions are held for assessing the skills of candidates.
Skills to be assessed in ‘GD’
The following skills are assessed during the group discussion.
- Communication skills
- Soft skills
- Inter-personal skills
- Team building skills
- Conflict – management skills
- Taking initiative and drive
- Leadership qualities.
- Presentation skills
- Negotiating skills
- Observation skills
- public Relations techniques and Strategies
- Language skills
In addition to be above, non-verbal communication skills are also watched with meticulous care.
- Shake hand
- Your posture
- Eye contact with the interviewers
- Avoid fidget (Fidget means – moving hands, your nervousness, unable to remain quiet, playing with key chain or pen top, adjusting hair, lip movement.
- Nervousness and appearance will also be judged.
GD is all about communicating with a group of people. Eye contact and body language play an important role. Most candidates tend to look at either the interviewer or any single member of the group but that again shows lack of confidence. ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for GD is given below for guidance to the candidates.
- Speak pleasantly and politely to the group.
- Remember that a discussion is not an argument.
- Try to stick to the discussion topic. Don’t introduce irrelevant information.
- Be aware of your body language when you are speaking.
- Lose your temper. A discussion is not an argument.
- Shout Use a moderate tone at a medium pitch.
- Use too many gestures when you speak. Gestures like finger pointing and table thumping can appear aggressive.
- interrupt; wait for a speaker to finish what they are saying before you speak.
Words are the best tools of communication. choose words carefully. Words can hurt and words can heal. What are the characteristics of positive language?
people who use positive language are effective communicators. Their message, written or oral, would be polite, pleasant, practical, persuasive and powerful. Your positive attitude makes you think positively. Your positive language creates a positive impact on the receiver and it helps you to attain your goal and achieve success.
An effective communicator checks whether his/her message is received positively or negatively. Language is a powerful tool and it can help people to make wonders. Communicating in a a positive way helps people project themselves positively. People who use positive language play a constructive rather than a destructive role.
Negative words hurt the feelings of the recipient and tell the person that he or she has done wrong. positive words encourage the person and tell him or her that they are respected. Positive words have a healing touch. Choose the words carefully.
Avoid negative words: Always avoid negative words like:
- A cruel word may wreck a life.
- A Bitter word may instill hate.
Use positive words: Always use positive words to build up human relations and solve the problems.
- A joyous word may light the way
- A timely word may lessen the stress
- A loving word may heal and bless
ENGLISH – a global language
Language is an expression of human activity. English language has become popular and routine in day to day official communicating and in routine life also. In fact, 1.1 billion people of India speak and communicate in more than a thousand languages and the fine line separating dialects from real languages is sometimes indistinguishable. Before independence, English was a foreign language. With the advent of globalization, English has become a global language. Hence it appears to be the best bet as a link language. In fact, it still remains a strong communicative language.
In India, where the business process outsourcing (BPO) and Information Technology boom has led to a demand for ‘trained’ English language speakers and ‘Learned’ workers, particularly, the youth should understand the accents, characters and cultural differences. People who want to learn the language have to expose themselves constantly to English, read, listen and grab every opportunity to speak.
Language skills and communication skills are essential for getting good placement in the information technology and I. T. Enabled Services, M. N. Cs., public sector and private sector industries etc. Everyone should revise the language habits from time to time, in accordance with changing life pattern and customs. As mentioned earlier, language is an expression of human activity and because human activity is constantly changing, language also changes along with it.
Every communicator must know the significance of language which is essential for effective communication. There is no life without communication and communication flows like a river. Hence communication is the life line of management and it is vital for good management. Unless and until one should master the communication skills, he/she cannot get employability. He/ she should develop communication and language skills practicing the following:
- While interacting with someone, give importance to the message.
- Do nt be pre-occupied with grammatical accuracy.
- Once you become fluent, you should try to improve grammar.
- Accept yourself as you are.
- Practice is very important. Whenever you get an opportunity to speak in front of others, make use of it. Face the audience boldly.
- Keep a good dictionary with you as your companion.
- Read newspapers, read stries, articles, news-items, watch news on T.V. , Radio, Develop your listening skills.
- Mingle with others freely; it helps you to develop interpersonal and group skills.
- Cultivate habit of reading books. By reading books, you can improve and develop ‘Creativity’.
- Selection of right books, good books to read is the key factor to success.
- Motivate the young minds and activate to learn subject and language.
- The great ideas will definitely help the reader in his later life. So read, Mark, learn and inwardly digest what is there in the books.
- Books are temples of knowledge. Visit the Library regularly at fixed hour.
- Now-a-days, knowledge is open for all in so many forms. You need to acquire desired knowledge from vast sources available.
By C. Ramakanta Sarma
(The author is PR Consultant & HRD Trainer based in Tirupati, A.P)