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I feel a deep sense of gratitude for this rare opportunity to address the concept of the importance of communication to such a respectable body of students. I may be politically incorrect but as part of the Information Age generation, I try incredibly hard to convince myself that despite the lack of appreciation of the significance of communication, it is the most powerful tool one can have. To say the least, communication is complex. While it may be regarded as a personal expression of oneself, it is an exchange of communication, a method of coordination, an agent of social change and a process of development. At the same time, communication is a potentially devastating weapon.
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Beyond these banal clichés, what I need to call attention to is the unrecognised power of communication. We take communication for granted, just as we take our eyes, our power of vision, for granted. I take the perspective that communication is a powerful instrument applied in unlimited ways, and which makes up one of the principal forces that control and form human behaviour. To explain the significance of communication is like to explain the significance breathing. If communication means interchange and interchange is a central aspect of human existence then no human can survive without interchange. The ability to communicate is therefore central to how we relate, what we are, how we live and how we learn.
To provide credence for my argument, I will take you through the four themes to show that communication is indeed important to us, as students and future professionals. First, we will explore the importance of communication in development of a person. Second, we will consider the impact of communication in improving the impact of education in advancing societal interests. And finally, we will examine the importance of education to career and business advancement.
First, communication is crucial for the development of a person. Researchers and educators have pointed out to the importance of communication in self-development. To this end, I must quote Morreale, Osborn and Pearson (2000) who stated that communication should in itself be viewed as general education since it improves personal skills and abilities such as critical thinking, leadership and management skills, social skills and media literacy. While we, as students, recognise the importance of communication education, we underestimate the importance of having communication skills. To this end, the significance of the ability to communicate effectively cannot be downplayed. In my view, the communication discipline should be regarded as central to student successes (Prinsen & Punyanunt-Carter, 2009). I suggest that we should equate communication to feeling comfortable with people’s perceptions of us, using language effectively, reasoning with people and feeling confident about ourselves.
Second, communication ensures effective education delivery. It checks that classroom instruction is improved and is central to effective collaboration within the entire education enterprise. To this end, communication skills are vital for the teachers, school administrators and librarians. Effective communication is a prerequisite to students’ personal, academic and professional accomplishments. In fact, most of the instructions are delivered to use through oral communication. I must make reference to Morreale, Osborn and Pearson (2000) study that explored the importance of non-verbal communication within the context of education. The study found that majority of messages exchanged within a classroom setting originated from nonverbal communication. I take this angle to argue that by consciously controlling our individual nonverbal expressions, we can be able to maintain positive relationships with our audiences within the classroom setting.
Third, communication is essential for continuation of the society and for cross-cultural interaction. Through effective communication, we develop the proficiency to speak and interact with people from different cultures. Effective communication also enables us to take part in public life. It also enables us to gain an understanding of people from different cultures. The importance of education within this context has been extensively investigated. A landmark study by Morreale, Osborn and Pearson (2000) made an insightful critical review of the importance of communication media in the society and found that communication greatly influences the direction that democracy takes in a country. I anchor my argument on this study to assert that a society that has an interplay of many forces, such as; apathy, volatility, sense of vulnerability and extreme hostility, people tend to undermine the political stability of a nation, media organisations are therefore at the centre stage of restoring sobriety and order.
Taking a different perspective, developing the ability to communicate effectively qualifies us to take part in public life. Like investigated by Morreale, Osborn and Pearson (2000), there is a correlation between effective oral communication through public speaking and civic responsibility. Hence, effective communication plays a critical role in qualifying one to participate in public life. As students, we should learn to appreciate effective reading and writing as a pathway for growing into citizens who can express themselves effectively and participate in public life, as great speakers. Think about all the greatest speakers and the extent to which they have moved crowds with their eloquence. Historically, public speaking was the primary medium for engaging in public affairs at the dawn of democracy in ancient Athens. It is still the primary means for taking part in public life.
Fourth, effective communication is essential for career success as well as effective business operation. Take for example; most job interviews base their selections on how effective a candidate communicates. On the other hand, the candidate will rely on their communication skills to convince their employers that they are fit for a position. This perspective has been explored by several researchers. According to Bardwell (1995), having effective written and verbal communication skills can help students to get a desirable employment. Essentially therefore, communication skills are crucial for career development. Far from this, the power of communication skills has also not been neglected in various career fields such as engineering, banking, sales and marketing, public relations, information science and politics. All these fields need effective communicators, either through the written or spoken word. Think of the accounting field for example. It consists of systematic communication of quantitative information on a company’s finances. Businesses also depend on communication to advertise their product, where the most effective communicator wins most customers.
To conclude, we should come to a common understanding that communication is a powerful instrument applied in unlimited ways, and which makes up one of the principal forces that control and form human behaviour. It helps in human development, it improves the impact of education in advancing societal interests and lastly, it promotes career and business advancement.
Bardwell, C. B. (1997). Standing out in the crowd. Black Collegian, 28, 71-79.
Bjerregaard, M. & Compton, E. (2011). Public Speaking Handbook: Suppliment to Public Speaking. Retrieved: http://www.snow.edu/communication/public_speaking_handbook.pdf
Littlejohn, S. & Foss, K. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory. London: Sage
Morreale, S., Osborn, M. & Pearson, J. (2000). Why Communication is Important: A Rationale for the Centrality of the Study of Communication. Journal of the Association for Communication Administration 29, 1-25
Prinsen, T., & Punyanunt-Carter, N. (2009). The difference in nonverbal behaviors and how it changes in different stages of a relationship. Texas Speech Communication Journal, 34, 1-7.
Watt, S. & Barnett, J. (2013). persuasive speaking. Retrieved: <http://www.publicspeakingproject.org/PDF Files/persuasion web 1.pdf>
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