DOCUMENT by: *
Subject: Communication Skills
Communication Skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing
Communication skills link with all other skills. Reading is part of information gathering and critical evaluation, listening is part of observation, and speaking and writing often depend on observation, interpretation of quantitative data, and critical evaluation of information. Communication and information themselves are closely related categories. There are messages and media, and as a wise Canadian scholar once announced, often “the medium is the message.” The point again is that skills and knowledge areas are interconnected—learning isn’t neat, even though you have been asked to factor out your own learning into skills and knowledge areas in a somewhat artificial way.
Communication skills also aren’t neat; communication involves reading, thinking, and writing, or listening, speaking, and observing, all of which can overlap and occur simultaneously as transfer of information takes place. And I haven’t yet mentioned non-verbal communication, which perhaps may be the most eloquent form of communication for people who are astute observers. In reflecting upon and sorting out your communication skills, then, think of communication as ways and means of gathering and relaying information, and think of information as what there is to be gathered by any means. That is, consider the widest range of reading, writing, speaking, listening, signaling, and gesturing as you consider your communication skills.
Identify your communication skills in the non-verbal, listening, speaking, reading, and writing areas by reflecting on your daily communication experiences.
Some questions to consider:
- When you are listening, how long can you listen before your attention wanders? Does attention differ with subject or speaker? How do you keep attention when the information is important to you?
- How much of what you listen to are you able to retain? What techniques do you use to recall the main points of a speech or a television presentation?
- Have you ever taught anyone how to do anything? How did you go about it? How did you make sure the person understood you?
- What languages do you speak (including signed languages)? Can you understand rapid, colloquial talk over the radio or television? What languages do you read?
- Do you read every book from beginning to end? At the same speed? What strategies do you use to make sure you understand the meaning and recall the important points?
- How effective a reader are you? That is, how often do you need to go back and re-read in order to understand and retain important information?
- What difference do you see, if any, between spoken and written communication?
- What kinds of communications do you ordinarily write (letters, reports, proposals, essays, etc.)? How easy or difficult is it to write these communications? How well do others understand your written communications?
- Does your composing and writing using a computer differ from your composing and writing “hard copy?”
Write down what you know and don't know about communication skills.
- How many ways of communicating non-verbally do you use fairly often and/or pay attention to coming from other sources? How important is non-verbal communication to you?
- With whom do you communicate, and what means do you use? What do you do to make sure that you have understood a communication correctly?
- What else do you think you need to learn in the area of communication skills?