My Ability to Convey Verbal Messages: Personal Experiences

Subject: Family, Life & Experiences
Pages: 10
Words: 2626
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: School

Introduction

Verbal messages are messages that are transmitted orally from one party to another. Oral simply means by word of mouth. As part of the overall course objectives, I decided to make deliberate attempts to uplift my ability to convey my verbal message after having realized that I had a deficiency in this area. Effective verbal communicators have the ability to identify the right messages for the right occasion. They also have the ability to adequately deal with obstacles that are associated with ineffective delivery of verbal messages. This means that success on my side can only be said to have been achieved if I am in a position to not only learn on how to come up with the appropriate messages for each occasion but also be able to identify and eliminate the barriers that are part of the ineffective communication pathway. This leads to an overall successful communication experience that is necessary for success in any area of life (Adler. & Elmhorst 2009, p.27).Management is the best example of fields that make use of effective communication skills.

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Literature Review

The area of effective verbal communication has been studied by numerous scholars who have made different suggestions on how it can be carried out effectively. M.M.Bakhtin and L.S.Vygotsky have been credited with the theory that puts the whole concept of verbal communication on a pragmatic path (Akhutina 1975, p.19). According to these two icons in the psychology of speech development, verbal communication is developed as a function of the societies in which we live. This is relevant in that it is not possible to develop a certain behavior in our verbal communication if this is not part of our environment or it is not required by the surroundings. The situation – specific argument in the development of verbal skills is emphasized an important aspect of verbal communication (Butterfield 2009, p.14-17).He makes the argument that in a workplace, it is necessary that workers develop verbal communication skills that are relevant and appropriate to the workplace. The agreement with the pragmatic theory is that both are focused on the needs of the environment in which the individual finds himself or herself (Devito2003, p.23).

Methodology

In my bid to improve my verbal communication skills, I came up with a plan of action. The elements of the action plan were represented in a table format. The action plan entailed the steps outlined hereunder:

Identification of problem areas: I made an honest assessment of my verbal communication abilities. I noted my strengths and weaknesses and decided on the areas that needed improvement. Through talking to others and getting feedback, I realized that my communication has gaps that make it difficult for my listeners to understand my message. These are the areas that I kept in mind as I went about looking for theoretical support on verbal communication.

Targeted Achievement/Improvement Levels: I set an ambitious target for three areas involved in verbal communication. I chose to aim for 50% body language appropriateness, 35% for voice tone and 5% in my words. This gave me the possibility of achieving 90% effectiveness in my verbal communication skills.

Theoretical background: I researched on the available theories on verbal communication in particular with a focus on communication in general as well as ideas speech development. This is what landed me in the ideas of M.M.Bakhtin and L.S.Vygotsky.

Basic Theory

From the theoretical perspective, the communication process is regarded as the transferring of any message to any object. In accordance with the basics of communication theory, the elements of communication process are as follows:

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  • Rhetorical – the science of discourse
  • Semiotic – the system of signs
  • Phenomenological – experience of dealing with something odd
  • Cybernetic – communication of complex system (alive organism or computer systems)
  • Socio-psychological – expression, influence, intercommunication
  • Critical – reflection of the perceived information
  • Socio-cultural – apprehension of social rules and order

Hence, the key aim of the communication training process is to study all these elements and be able to apply the regarded communicational strategies towards all of them. In fact, these are the elements of any communication theory, and the following information is based on the precise division of communication process in these seven elements. (Sereno, Mortensen, 1970)

Accommodation communication and competitive values theory

Considering the aims of this process, it should be emphasized that effective utilization of communication skills is possible only with resorting to several communicational channels, which are verbal, non-verbal communication, and tone, of the voice. Originally, in accordance with Heath and Bryant (2000), the communication style is defined by the surrounding situation and circumstances. Thus, the theoretical perspective of accommodation communication is closely associated with the process, when communicating parties have to change their communication styles. Such behavior may be the reaction for the changed environment. Thus, the entire communication of two unacquainted communicators is based on the principles of accommodation. My aim is to practice the accommodation tools and rules in order to find the common communication style with various people.

The next step depends on the requirements of the environment and circumstances. Thus, communication styles may be of personal or organizational origin, depending on these aspects, it should be stated that these two approaches presuppose various requirements towards rhetoric, non-verbal communication and tone of the voice, let alone the communication manner and vocabulary used.

The actual necessity of communication skills development is explained by Craig (2001). Thus, the entire development of civilizations and humanity depends on the communication process; that is why media is regarded as one of the key tools of interpersonal communication, which was aimed at carrying the developmental programs, accepting restrictions and regulations from the side of a State. Consequently, considering the aspects of communicational theory, the tools which are used in media should be applied in the interpersonal communication, especially in the organizational environment (Craig, 2001). Additionally, the demerits of this theory may be avoided in interpersonal approach, as the development through media tools is often linked with government propaganda. Hence, my aim is to incorporate the objective, reliable and professional media communication style. This would be particularly helpful for written communication with colleagues. These steps may be united within the frames of competitive values theory, which defines the actual necessity to develop communicational skill in the organizational surrounding from the perspective of improving the personal and professional aspects of communication.

Cognitive Dissonance Approach

Another theory is associated mainly with interpersonal communication and is the adoption of social psychology approaches. Cognitive dissonance theory presupposes the psychological conflict when two incompatible aspects / believes / presumptions are held simultaneously. In accordance with O’Hair and Kreps (2003, p. 312):

Cognitive dissonance is a relatively straightforward social psychology theory that has enjoyed wide acceptance in a variety of disciplines including communication. The theory replaces previous conditioning or reinforcement theories by viewing individuals as more purposeful decision makers; they strive for balance in their beliefs. If presented with decisions or information that creates dissonance, they use dissonance-reduction strategies to regain equilibrium, especially if the dissonance affects their self-esteem.

In the light of this statement, it should be emphasized that cognitive dissonance approach is psychologically uncomfortable for communication; that is why people will avoid it by any means. In fact it is hard to motivate people for communication in the state of dissonance, thus, the communicational professionalism will presuppose the ability to help people overcome it. My aim as the communication practitioner is to avoid these situations, and help collocutors to overcome the consequences of dissonance. Thus, they will be more open for further communication, and ready to resort to more complicated and progressive communication strategies.

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The subsidiary approach of cognitive dissonance social strategy is closely associated with attitude formation and change. Thus, professional communicator should be aware of the means and tools of changing this attitude. Additionally, elaboration likelihood model may be used with the approaches of cognitive dissonance strategy. Originally, it is used in printed media, however, the clear realization of its principles will help to integrate a range of variables into the united system, associated with explanation of any information: on the one hand it may cause cognitive dissonance, on the other hand, the skilled application of this approach will help to avoid it. It is aimed at addressing factors and messages for creating the particular attitude towards information and a person, who narrates it. (Salwen, and Stacks, 2004)

Other Activities in the Action Plan

Other activities that I carried out include the identification of good speakers and watching their behaviour.I also listened keenly as a way of trying to polish up my listening skills since listening is crucial part of verbal communication especially in areas where responses are needed after listening to other people’s speeches. I did more practice by listening to news and trying to remember. As a real trainer in speaking, I participated in role playing and tried to speak out as clearly as possible. I also mingled with a group of people who are not my normal friends in most of my informal settings and tried to engage them in conversation by paying attention to my choice of words and message composition. Presentation and delivery is done best when the needs of the audience are understood and met (Reynolds 2008, p.72).The target was to try and come up with the appropriate message for each person I was talking to in the setting. Finally, I gathered the courage to speak to a slightly huge gathering in my college as a way of practicing and ensuring that my body language, which is a key element in verbal communication, is appropriate.

Findings

Theories on verbal communication are many with different emphasis in the verbal communication process. The Bakhtinian approach of pragmatism in both verbal communication ability development as well as the deliberate learning carried out later in life so as to meet situational needs seems compelling. In my identification of the best speaker and listening to him, I found out that he had a message that was meant for the occasion (Berkun 2009, p.66).

On listening to news, I realized that I was able to get more information when my attention was fully directed at the person delivering the news. Disruptions always divided my attention leading to my inability to get a full grasp of what was being said.

In the role playing exercise, I was able to master the art of proper articulation after repeated practice. At first; it was not easy to do the speaking in the best possible way. But attention to the message, understanding it and then bringing it out in form of words made more sense. Doing the speaking as many times as possible made the articulation more refined.

Spending time with an audience that is not part of my normal informal groups was a ground for training in getting the right message for the right people. I managed to get the right message for most of the members of the audience. The address to college students also required me to select the right message, have the confidence to stand before a huge group and share my message. My body language also made the students believe what I was saying as shown by the reaction as I was delivering my message.

Analysis

In the case of listening to a good speaker, more information is gotten when total attention is paid to the person speaking. The first step to being a good verbal communicator is being a good listener. Good speakers as shown by the speaker I listened to are able to design the right messages for their audiences. They also know how to use body language to reinforce their words. The end result is that they are able to have maximum impact on their audiences.

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On listening to news, I found out that total attention is also required if the message is to be understood. This is vital in cases where one is required to respond after listening to a speech by someone. Any distractions that lead to division of attention lead to a situation where the message is missed and therefore the ability to respond or communicate a point is hampered.

Addressing Formal Audiences Requires Proper Messages

My experience with an audience that is different from my informal friends made me to realize how proper message are necessary if we are to be listened to. In such cases, the members of the audience have expectations that must be met by the speaker if he has to achieve his or her objectives (Mayer2001, p.54). Like in all the other cases, body language is equally important. Elements of body language that are important include eye contact, upright posture and a firm handshake in cases where it has to be done.

Talking before College Students

In my address to college students, I discovered that body language makes the listeners (the students) get convinced that I am fully aware of what I am saying and I am ready to be part of it. This underscores the significance of proper body language (Pease & Pease2006, p.12). This makes it easy for them to believe me and therefore keep on listening (Steele 1997, p.56). This of course is only possible after the right message for the occasion has been designed.

Reflections On My Efforts Throughout The Semester To Master Verbal Communication (How The Practical Exercises And The Theories Have Helped Me)

Given the efforts I have made in trying to achieve proficiency in conveying verbal messages, it would be a surprise if I did not make any progress. I can confidently say that I have gained much from the theoretical background from class and my own research. The practical undertakings I have exposed myself to such as listening to good speakers, attending conferences, listening to news, role playing and addressing college students have given me invaluable experience in what is required as far as proper delivery of verbal messages is concerned. The fear I had when standing before people always made me forget all the information and adopt improper body language. The role of body language is something that cannot be ignored in effective verbal communication (Lambert 2008, p.23). This is currently not the case given that I have managed to overcome my fear. I have the ability to come up with the required message for any audience that I may want to address and I always make an attempt to employ a complimentary body language as a way of completing the communication.

The guiding principles in my search for proficiency in conveying verbal messages are based on pragmatic ideals. The dictates of the environment have to be considered. For example the attempt to eliminate barriers or obstacles to effective communication is borne out of the practical need to be understood and get the intended action done.

It is too early to declare myself completely able to communicate verbally despite the achievements that I have made. As a recommendation to myself, I will need to keep on practicing so as to ensure that the theoretical knowledge gained and the practical experience obtained remain in me as a way of getting even more confidence in my delivery of verbal messages.

Conclusion

As shown by the report, I have made remarkable progress as far as gaining the ability to convey a verbal message is concerned. The practical exercises that I have undertaken have played a key role. The need to communicate is practical and therefore is deliberately formed to suit the circumstances. Since I cannot declare total perfection in the field of verbal communication, I will have to continue working hard in a bid to achieve the highest possible standards. The management role of communication is so crucial that everyone must have the ability to communicate if management is to be successful.

References

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