Discussing The Academic Communication Process English Language Essay

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Communication consists of sending and receiving messages and is a continuous progression involving exchanging and disclosing information. It is more likely to be successful if the person expressing the message is aware of themselves and their audience. The most prevalent form of communication between people is interpersonal which involves two or more people giving and receiving feedback (DeVito, 2007). People engage in interpersonal communication, to learn, relate, influence, play and help (DeVito, 2007).

The act of face to face communication may be affected by verbal and non verbal messages, therefore acquiring new techniques are crucial for the message interpretation. Although communication can appear relatively uncomplicated there are many elements to consider and understand to avoid or resolve communication barriers.

The Johari Window was developed in 1955 by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham and is a communication model from four perspectives (Chapman, 2009). This model is designed to better understand and increase self-awareness and is a useful representation for describing the process of human interaction thus becoming a tool for changing behaviours (Chapman, 2009). The Johari model presents ideas of disclosure and feedback, which are the foundations for creating change, refer to figure 1.

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Figure 1: The Johari Window

Known to self

Not known to self

 

 

 

 

Known to others

 

Open

Blind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown to others

 

Hidden

Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Johari model is illustrated as having four basic quadrants, each containing a different aspect of a person's self. The four windows are: the open quadrant which is known to individuals and to others who know them, the blind quadrant representing everything about a person that others know but of which may not be known to that person, the hidden quadrant contains all that is known of an individual but may be kept private and the unknown quadrant corresponds to truths that neither is known by a person nor others or an unawareness of on a conscious level (Chapman, 2009).

According to Chapman (2009) the principle behind the Johari Window is to enhance self-awareness and allow ourselves to disclose information which in-turn alters the different quadrants increasing or decreasing in size constantly. A measure of this model may transpire when meeting a person for the first time, conveying information may be limited hence the open window is not very large, however by developing a relationship over time the open window will increase due to disclosing information and the hidden window will decrease. By communicating openly and disclosing information will enhance trust in relationships and help both people identify with each other further.

DeVito (2007) proposes the following to increase self awareness, ask themselves what other people's perception may be, actively seek realistic information when listening to people, consider views from different perspectives, enlarge the open self, and have the willingness to resolve internal issues and the skill to change self-concept. Becoming self aware can also promote understanding and significance for evaluating the appropriateness when disclosing information thus developing a successful and solid relationship. The act of building a successful relationship requires both self-disclosure and feedback between people.

Dr Albert Mehraian professor emeritus of the University of California, Los Angeles identified three major components that convey meaning in face to face communication which consist of body language, voice tonality and words. Mehraian (1971) suggests fifty five percent of impact is determined by body language, thirty eight percent by tone and seven percent by the context of words spoken. Non-verbal communication otherwise known as body language is an indication of what a person may be thinking or feeling in a situation (Mindtools.com, 2010a). There may be slight or significant movements including hand gestures, facial expressions and even shifts within individuals that indicate the genuine intention of the communication (Mindtools.com, 2010a). In addition the way people talk, walk, sit and stand all say something about them and reflect not only on the inside but also on the outside (Mindtools.com, 2010a). Increasing awareness through signs and signals and interpreting body language will also help to read people, thus improving effective communication (Mindtools.com, 2010a). Common signs of body language where a person may be feeling uncomfortable or defensive can include: arms being crossed in front, facial expressions, avoiding eye contact and facing away from a person whereas other signs including maintaining eye contact, smiling or nodding can indicate openness and comprehension (Mindtools.com, 2010a). Consequently acquiring the ability to read body language will provide the skills to easily adapt communications if required, furthermore observing signs and signals is important to establish the genuine nature of communication, however non-verbal signals should emulate verbal language to avoid confusion (Mindtools.com, 2010a).

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Verbal communication as indicated by Mehraian (1971) such as tone also plays an integral role in communication. DeVito (2007) suggests voices can reveal numerous emotions depending on how people speak as opposed to what is said also known as paralanguage; this could include the volume of voice, the pitch of speech or the rate of which a person may be speaking. DeVito (2007) proposes silence can also be an important function of communication as it allows the speaker and listener time to pause and formulate thoughts, however this should also be considered as an indication there may be a communication block therefore asking for feedback is crucial in the delivery of communication as Hahn (2005) suggests.

It is important to recognize and consider key communication elements with the aim towards understanding how communication takes place to achieve a successful result. The main key elements are made up of five segments which consist of, the source, encoding, channel, decoding and receiver (Mindtools.com, 2010b). At each stage of the process there is potential for misunderstanding or perplexity therefore the goal should be to minimise the occurrence of problems with clear, concise, accurate, and well-planned communications (Mindtools.com, 2010b). The source of the message or the communicator is the individual who intends to express or send out the message (Mindtools.com, 2010b). Encoding is the process of transferring the information intending to communicate, for the message to be decoded accurately this needs to be conveyed in logical way (Mindtools.com, 2010b). The source needs to convey the information in a clear and precise manner to circumvent any assumptions or misunderstanding (Mindtools.com, 2010b). Channels act as media and operate as a bridge linking the source and receiver. Different channels have various strengths and weaknesses, for example, it is not particularly effective to give a long list of directions verbally if sending someone negative feedback using email (Mindtools.com, 2010b). Decoding requires recognizing and comprehending the message along with interpretation and evaluation of the meaning (Mindtools.com, 2010b). Ultimately the message is delivered to the receiver who will interpret and encompass feelings and ideas that may affect the context of the communication (Mindtools.com, 2010b). Feedback in the communication process is essential whether it is verbal or non-verbal as it indicates if the receiver has understood the message accurately or if further clarification is required to resolve any misunderstanding or confusion (Mindtools.com, 2010b).

Successful conversations are not an easy process, it is crucial to understand and recognize communication barriers which can result from many diverse factors in order to reach an effective resolution. Tillett and French (2006) state that "Effective communication means…what is meant is said, and…what is said is meant. It also means…what is said is heard and…what is heard is understood" (pp. 23-23).

Hahn (2005) proposes perhaps one of the most common barriers of communication is a lack of attention from recipients, people can sometimes have a tendency to drift off or zone out particularly if they do not listen well. An effective way to overcome this is to paraphrase or reflect what one has understood the other person's message to be ensuring both identify with the same concept, secondly is to ask questions or offer feedback to clarify any uncertainty (Hahn, 2005). A common linguistic barrier of effective communication can arise from poorly structured information where a message may be too complex or information is too extensive, thus it is important to select terminology carefully when communicating a message (DeVito, 2007). Noise can also become a physical barrier especially if an environment is very loud and may affect people's concentration levels, for that reason selecting a suitable location is essential. Equally important to understand is cultural differences, this can be particularly challenging when conveying information as various cultures communicate in different ways (DeVito, 2007). Adjusting communication styles to adapt to others and listening with an open mind remaining non-judgemental is a fundamental way to achieve positive communication and circumvent barriers. Hahn (2005) recommends overcoming barriers associated with different cultures and backgrounds should include avoiding projecting one's own background or culture onto others, remaining open in communications and never assuming that certain behaviours mean the same thing to everyone.

When communicating, messages should be clear and precise to ensure successful delivery, if parts of communications are ambiguous or misinterpreted, this can result in the sender and receiver having mixed messages. Consequently if encountering a communication breakdown, listening with a depth of empathy and considering feelings for others will further assist with accepting different view points and can enhance interpersonal value. Bolton (1987) states there are three components of empathy:

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The empathic person has a sensitive and accurate understanding of the other person's feelings while maintaining certain separateness from the individual. Empathy means understanding the situation that contributed to or 'triggered' those feelings. The empathic person communicates with the other in such a way that the other person feels accepted and understood (p. 272).

Acquiring the skills of good communication is not difficult but learning to apply them effectively is the challenge. Although communication can be complex and may fail at times employing successful strategies will ensure the likelihood of success. The evidence presented in the Johari Window model offers an insightful notion, emphasizing the significance of being self aware and the importance of self disclosure thus becoming a valuable device for changing self-concept. Defining the meaning and concept of the Johari Window model theory to people, who in turn can interpret it in their own terms, then empowers people to use the thinking in their own way, and to incorporate the underlying principles into their future thoughts and behaviour (Chapman, 2009).

Communication is a never ending journey of discovery, of ourselves and of

others. (Cole, 2000, pix).

Communication is only successful when both the sender and receiver identify with the same information (Mindtools.com, 2010b). To communicate effectively and deliver clear and concise information it is essential to understand key communication elements and apply them accordingly to circumvent communication barriers (Mindtools.com, 2010b). It is also evident in Mehraians (1971) findings verbal and non verbal communication provide important signs and signals which can interpret the meaning of communication as it is constant even when people are not aware of it. By developing awareness of body language, will further enhance better understanding of other people, and reinforce a more effective communication style (Mindtools.com, 2010a).