It may seem strange that the subject of communication would come up in personal development. But communication with other people is one of the most frequent and necessary things that we do. Our happiness, peace of mind, well-being, and fulfillment are affected do a great degree by our ability to communicate.
The better we can communicate with other people, the more enjoyable our life will be. We will have greater success in helping people understand what we want. We will be able to express skillfully our feelings for them.
By communicating well in every area of our lives, we run into fewer problems and difficulties in our relationships with other people in everything we do.
Poor communication, on the other hand, can bring constant hardship, difficulty, and frustration, making an individual’s life stressful, miserable, and embarrassing.
Since personal development is all about achieving a better life, it is in everyone’s best interests to achieve the highest level of skill possible in the art of communication.
There are two essential attributes for good communication skills: self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence is necessary for public speaking. Self-esteem is essential for communicating to people on a daily basis.
Behind these two attributes, however, are the noble human attributes. Our attitude to people is the factor that determines how well we communicate. If we have a great respect for other people, no matter what circumstances we find them in, then our ability to communicate with them successfully will also be high.
Public speaking doesn’t require a high level of self-esteem, at least when viewed from the perspective of personal development. You only have to look at the characters of people who regularly speak in public to realize this.
They may believe their level of self-esteem is high, but their behaviour away from the public eye contradicts this assertion. Their self-confidence may be high, and they may mistake this for self-esteem.
Also, their estimation of their own importance may also be high, and this they also mistake for self-esteem. It seems that many people judge their importance by how many people know them. Thus the belief by people in the public eye that they are important. And, as a consequence, they believe they have high self-esteem.
Public speakers may or may not be good communicators. Just because you are addressing groups of people all the time using one type of media or another, doesn’t necessarily make your communication skills above average.
They may be good in this particular field of communication but poor in others. Self-confidence doesn’t necessarily make you good at communicating what you think or what you feel.
The main concern with individuals interested in a better life is how they communicate on a daily basis to the people who they live, work, play, and socialize with.
The two main areas of communication are transmitting information and receiving information. We transmit information through voice, writing, actions, gestures, and body language. Of most interest is speaking because this is how we communicate our thoughts, needs, desires, and feelings most of the time.
We receive information with our senses, mainly hearing and seeing, although touch, smell, and taste are also important. Of these, listening is the most important and of most interest because this is how we interact with people most of the time.
One of the major obstacles to effective communication is our tendency to not reveal too much about ourselves and how we really feel. The listener has to try to guess what the truth is by how we express ourselves and our body language.
This is why self-esteem is so important in communication. The higher a person’s self-esteem, the less concerned he is about what people think of him. He doesn’t need to hide anything from others because he is comfortable about who and what he is.
The rest of us with lower self-esteem filter the truth through our beliefs, doubts, guilts, desires, hang-ups, and self-consciousness. With so many concerns about what the listener is going to think about us, what we say is almost the opposite of what we mean.
The other major obstacle to communication is our listening skills. We listen with our minds instead of with our hearts. Our minds hear words and translate them into images which we think the other person is trying to get across.
Unfortunately, their understanding of words and phrases may be completely different from ours. Even the simplest words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ have different meanings in different situations to different people. How, then, are we going to interpret more complicated ideas correctly?
A lot of the time, we listen half-heartedly. We hear half of what is said and fill in the blanks with what we think the person is going to say. We have decided what they are saying before they have finished speaking. This further complicates communication.
Then we must consider the other person’s propensity to cover up the real message so that it doesn’t reveal what they really desire, think, or feel. If we listen with out minds, we have no chance of understanding what they mean.
We have to listen with our hearts. We have to try to listen to the real message they want to give us. We listen to the meaning and the feelings expressed rather than the words being said.