How do we communicate effectively?

  1. How do we communicate effectively?

Let us think about the capacity of human beings to communicate with one another. As social beings, we relate to others through language and non-verbal signs which at times, are able to replace verbal statements. However, how do we manage to interpret the mental representations that others want to convey? Confusion and misinterpretation are part of our everyday lives and, for this reason, we should find operative and relevant strategies to communicate with each other effectively. foto1

Since communication skills are essential in our relationships and in our academic and professional development, we must learn to communicate effectively and efficiently in order to appeal and make a good impression. As we all know, first impressions are what counts, and this is also true for businesses as they must use their marketing strategies to acquire privileged status and become competitive.

Consequently, our objective in this brief article is to consider the components that comprise communicative activity in the wider sense of the term according to the approaches of the linguistics researcher Maria Victoria Escandell Vidal, from UNED University (2005).

On the one hand, the sender aims to communicate, that is to say, they have a series of mental representations that they would like to communicate. Taking into account the rest of the accessible representations (information known about the receiver, contextual information, linguistic and other non-linguistic information) and according to all of the collected information, the sender selects the type of signal best suited to attaining their aims. This is usually linguistic. On the other hand, the receiver subjects the signal to two forms of processing: linguistic decoding and inferential interpretation which creates a similar mental representation if communication is effective.

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Thanks to this process, humans are constantly encoding and decoding (almost) automatically. How do we achieve communicative success? We know that many of the mental representations we want to communicate are shared between sender and receiver. Also, this information can be interpreted through contextual knowledge and the communicative situation. Therefore, communication can be defined as the process in which one (or more) individual(s) try to create mental representations in the mind of the other(s). In fact, it’s not magic. It is a complex mental process that we are capable of developing effectively, to a greater or lesser extent. Even back in the time of the Ancient Greeks, Oratory was used to practice and refine oral communication skills as these abilities were recognised to be an essential tool in man’s life.

How many marketing campaigns have failed due to their inability to effectively communicate? That is why, broadly speaking, every company needs a good communicator, someone who can use language properly, to find the precise language needed to share the company’s message with the market, and ultimately, with the rest of the world.

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Escandell Vidal, Mª Victoria. La comunicación. Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 2005