.2-10 People and skills
.4 People skills
.6 Caring and sharing
.7 Being a mentor
.8 Resolving conflicts
.9 Giving and receiving feedback
.10 Acting [self esteem and stress management]
.20 Images of others
.27 Communication Networks
.30-50 Non-verbal medium
.35 Body language
.36 Physical characteristics
.37 Facial expressions
.38 Eye contact
.43-49 Speech aspects
.49 Sound symbols
.51 Importance of communicating non-verbally
.56-58 Communicating efficiently and effectively
Life is about managing. Life is about managing people in social contexts or in workplaces. Managing others around us. Managing family members, neighbours, colleagues, superiors, strangers. Life can be pleasant, if we can handle or tackle people helping them, encouraging them, motivating them, enabling them so that they are able to draw on their own strengths. Life can be worth living if we can offer friendship, affection or love to people so that they feel they are not all alone in this ‘cruel’ world but do ‘belong’ and evince interest in themselves and others. Life can be rewarding if we can help others achieve recognition, attain status so that they grow in self-esteem. Life can be accomplishing if we can help others develop their ‘selfs’ so that they reach their final destination of self-realization.
Managing is a global challenge that encompasses other challenges. Managing is not avoiding problems, not ignoring them and not wishing they would go away in time. Managing is facing problems and solving them. Managing is equipping us with ‘skills’. Managing is using these ‘skills’ to handle and help people so that everyone benefits.
1.2 People and people skills
I want security, attention, understanding, recognition, popularity, respect, admiration, peace, happiness, harmony. You want them, too, don’t you? Where do we get these from? Are they ‘shelf’ items in a supermarket for you and I to pick and choose? You and I can get all these only when people cooperate and help us get them. I expect people to help me get all these. You do, too, don’t you? But do we help people get them? In other words, do you and I possess people skills?
Who is ‘people’? The Eskimos, the Japanese, the South Americans, the New Zealanders, the Indians? Yes, but here ‘people’ is used in a narrow sense. Family members, neighbours, community members, township members, friends, peers, colleagues, superiors, enemies. It is these people we grow with and live with. Without them, there is no meaning, no purpose, no growth, no life.
We are never alone. Not even in our dreams! Right from birth till death, we are surrounded by people. Right from birth till death, we have to deal with people. Right from birth till death, we have to mix with them, mingle with them, move with them. For anything and everything. We need each other all the time. For physical, intellectual, social, moral support. For companionship, solace, encouragement.
All these are facts of life. But then how aware are we, you and I? If it is our right to expect people around us to help us achieve, is it not our duty to help others to achieve? We may be aware of this duty, do we perform it but? Much of unhappiness, much of pain, much of agony result from not performing this duty. We expect more, we give less. This imbalance is the problem. We, you and I, can solve this problem if we develop/improve and use people skills, if we are people persons [who enjoy or are good at interacting with others].
1.4 People skills
What are ‘people skills’?
The term refers to the exhibition of [showing] genuine interest in other people—what they are and how we can help them. The key word is ‘genuine’; it implies an ‘unselfishness’ that is generally not seen when people show interest in others, their behaviours and actions.
1.5 Empathizing[= understanding]We must understand that we are not perfect, we have our drawbacks, and so we should not expect others to be perfect, not to have drawbacks. We must exhibit this understanding when we deal with others in such a way that they understand this not as a condescending behaviour but a humane one.
We also clearly indicate that we see the problems of others from their perspective or
angle, we know and understand what is going on in their minds. And that we are with them when they need someone by their side.
1.6 Caring and sharing
We must make others understand that we care for them, we feel as they do, we share
their grief or disappointments, we’ve had our share of grief and disappointment, we
want to reach out to them and help them [even if they have been and continue to be
neutral or unfriendly]. And that we have no motive other than helping them.
1.7 Being a mentor
We must be a guide to lead people in a direction taking which they will see purpose in living, we must be a confidant for people to unwind themselves, to share their burden, to ease them from stress, tension, from worry, to get them to act for themselves. We must get them to change the way they look at things, to see their situations from other possible angles, to understand that goals will take time to reach, to continue to work hard to reach their goals and to not give up half way because of obstacles, unhelpful people. We must make them see within themselves to find out whether they are introverts or extraverts, whether they are logical or emotional, whether they are thinkers or doers, whether they are optimists or pessimists. We must them help them out so that they grow in self-esteem and in self-confidence.
We may thus exert positive influence on their thinking and performing.
1.8 Resolving conflicts
Resentments, grudges, personality clashes result from conflicts between people, and conflicts remain rooted. But if we can get them to shed their ego-oriented approaches to problems and people, conflicts will surface and can be resolved.
1.9 Giving and receiving feedback
We must help people realize the importance of feedback to and from them; we must make them understand the value and the usefulness of feedback in removing suspicion, anxiety, delay, misunderstanding.
In order to empathize, care and share, we need an effective route we can use. The
route is our approach—our perception, attitude and motivation. If we perceive others as ourselves, we will be positive in our attitude and motivation and will be able to express empathy and care in order to make life better for them, and in the bargain for us.
We need to modify our behaviour to suit the needs, wishes or demands of others. Of
course, this needs great courage because it is not easy to not mind our ego and
We collaborate with others or complement their performance so that they are able to
complete their tasks and realize their goals.
While we agree with others that they have a logic of their own in doing things the
way they do, we also ask them to take a look at things from another angle, another
perspective and then take a decision on what they want to continue to do and how
they want to do it. We tell them that it is fine if they decide to continue with the old
ways of doing things after considering our suggestions. Now they will know that
they are responsible for their actions and that they cannot lay the blame elsewhere.
This awareness should help boost their morale.
· Build self-esteem
We tell others that they should not indulge in self-pity and feel frustrated because
they can’t do things that others are capable of, that they have talent this or that, that
they should take pride in them and enjoy using those talents so that life becomes
meaningful and worth living. We use known persons or us as examples to prove the
We build their confidence. We encourage them to speak up even when they fear they
are not right in their assessments of people, actions or concepts [why, they might
even find out, to their own surprise, they had wrong opinion of themselves!], tell
them to watch how their friends and colleagues assert themselves and see if they
cannot assert themselves, too.
All of us would like to think that we are able to think, decide, act and succeed in life. It’s only natural. So when we admire ourselves for the way they think, for the way we act, we have self-esteem. When we have confidence in ourselves, when we are sure about how we think, how we act, we have self-confidence. When we respect ourselves for our beliefs and actions, we have self-respect. When we have a good opinion and are happy about ourselves and our actions, we have self-esteem and this leads to self- confidence and self-respect.
But it’s not uncommon for us to have self-doubts because others around us may feel differently about us from what we feel about ourselves. Then we come under the influence of pressure because of judgements passed by others.
What happens in law courts? Judgements are delivered. Some win cases and are happy. Some lose cases and are unhappy. What happens in society? Judgements occur around us and within us. They make us happy or unhappy.
We judge others. When your dad presses the accelerator and the speedometer jumps to 120, you scream, “Dad!” When your mother cries, “I give up!” because you don’t stop speeding, you wail, “Have a heart, Mom!” When a bus driver squeezes past between the vehicles on his left and on his right, you blow your top.
Others judge us. You clock 12 seconds in the 100 meter dash and the crowd claps. You come out of water after a three-minute stay under it and your friends hug you. You receive a gift voucher for answering a question rightly and your family is all smiles. On all these occasions, your self-esteem goes up a notch.
Others judge us. You skid and land on your back after stepping on a banana peel and people laugh. Your teacher punishes you for a wrong-doing and your classmates pity you. You score low marks and your father hollers at you. On all these occasions, your self-esteem takes a dive.
We judge ourselves. You stop right on the line as amber turns to read and you pat yourself. You snatch a child from the speeding four wheels and you feel proud. You can’t speak English like your peers and you feel awful. Your maths teacher turns round from the board and fear grips you. And your self-esteem gets affected.
Such judgements of others by us, us by others, us by ourselves go on all the time.
what do we judge?
What we think of ourselves is important to us—as good or bad persons, as weak or strong persons, as logical or illogical persons. What we think or don’t think, how we think or don’t think, what we do or don’t do, what we believe or don’t believe in are important to us. What others think of us is also very important to us.
why do we judge?
Judging is like breathing. It’s constant and a basic human need. More often than not, it happens in spite of us and it happens whether we like it or not. However, it’s essential for normal and healthy development.
Such incessant judgements improve or worsen our self-esteem. When judgements are positive and favourable, self-esteem is high. When judgements are negative and unfavourable, self-esteem is low. Awards, acceptance, encouragement, appreciation, praise improve self-esteem. So we feel more good about ourselves. Indifference, rejection, insults, criticism, mockery, punishment worsen self-esteem. So we feel more bad about ourselves.
Our self-esteem graph may soar or dip. If it soars, it’s good. If it dips, what do we do?
1. It’s natural or normal to feel low. But we should continue to
believe in ourselves .
2. We should remember we’re not alone. There are several others,
even famous people, who have low or poor self-esteem.
3. We should realise everyone of us is unique. [Stop comparing
yourself with others.]
We have abilities that others don’t have.
4. Avoid those who laugh at your weaknesses.
5. We should identify our strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s ignore weaknesses unless they hinder growth.
6. We should exercise our right to decide, define, describe our
7. We should take steps to eliminate one weakness at a time.
8. We should listen to others but only we should decide what to do
and what not to do.
9. We should own up our failures.
We shouldn’t blame them on somebody else.
10. No one succeeds all the time; failures are part of life.
11. Analyse failure. Identify the source. Next time round, make it a
12. We should always remember we are the architects of our
successes and failures.
13. Stay with those who support you by telling you your strengths.
Finally, our thinking is based on events. But events are not facts.
· Use emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence includes perceiving, understanding, using emotions and
managing them. This is a capacity innate in every human being but unfortunately
most of us are not even aware that we can use this intelligence to help ourselves and
Why have I taken up this topic?
Because I’m as concerned about you as Mr Gopalakrishnan, Mr Mohsin Aziz and Ms Sujatha are [Read “IT boom—boon or bane” in the Hindu of 3 September 2006, “IT—some issues in stress management” in the Hindu of 17 September 2006, “IT/ITES staff face insomnia problems” in the Hindu of January 17, 2007 and “Computer jobs can cause back, neck pain” in the Hindu of 22 January 2007]. Because education should help you to face and overcome challenges in life.
Why should this topic interest you?
Because prevention is better than cure. Because I agree with Mr Mohsin’s suggestion:
“The most important aspect of any stress management intervention is to give employees knowledge about stress.” Now read on.
You’re in your first or second semester. Before you realise what has happened, you’ll have entered your seventh semester. That’s when several IT firms and a few core companies land in your campus. And you’ll be busy going through the process of selection. If you’re good (I’m sure you’ll be by then), you’ll be offered a position with an attractive compensation by an IT or a BPO organisation.
If you accept the offer, you’ll become part of an environment that is stressful. Let’s understand what stress is and how you can manage it.
What is ‘stress’?
Stress is the pressure we feel or worry we have about problems in life. It’s a state [or condition] of mental, emotional or other strain. According to Stress Management, stress is a physiological response to an internal or external stimulus that triggers the “fight-or-flight” reaction. According to medical science, stress is a perturbation of the body’s homeostasis. In psychology, stress is an internal state which can be caused by physical demands on the body or by environmental and social situations which are evaluated as potentially harmful, uncontrollable or exceeding our resources for coping. Pressure is what is happening to us, stress is how we react to a particular pressure.
What happens when there is stress?
Stress can be real or perceived [=imagined or understood as real]. When I have a heart attack, it is real. I can also construe severe pain in the chest as heart attack. There is stress in both situations. So my brain responds and releases stress hormones—cortisone and adrenaline. My body uses the hormones, acts and fights the stress. I or my relatives take steps to deal with the problem; the stress hormones in my blood stream or in the blood stream of my relatives are used up and I or my relatives return to normal. In the latter, my imagination runs riot in chain of stress situations that lets stress hormones accumulate in my blood stream. And my physical and mental conditions move from bad to worse. In fact, I may even be inviting a heart attack!
How do we know we are stressed?
The following conditions are the indicators:
i. loss of appetite --we have no desire to eat
ii. insomnia --we spend sleepless nights
iii. lose concentration -- we are disturbed and unable to continue why we’re doing
iv. memory loss --we have difficulty in remembering things
v. sudden increase in errors –we commit errors more frequently now than in the past
vi. anger --we get angry at the slightest provocation
What causes stress?
The physical, environmental and social causes[sources] of stress are known as stressors. They can be internal or external.
•excessive heat or cold •poor diet •ailments •constant rushing •drugs/alcohol
•sugar •too much caffeine •lack of exercise •overweight
•high expectations from self
•low self image
•keeping to yourself [not mixing]
•less time with family
•excessive time away from home [guilt feeling]
•your unfulfilled expectations from others
•holding things inside that we are afraid to say openly
•staying in a job we dislike
•pushing ourselves to do things that we don’t want to do
•demands [expectations]by family and friends
•traffic snarls/jams •death of near and dear
•divorce or separation
•ill treatment by or lack of support from family/friends/authority[school/college/office]
•keeping pace with technology
•ambiguity in duties or rights
•unnatural working hours
•lack of opportunity for creativity
•inability to cope with competitive work environment
•pressure from superiors
•unreasonable performance demands
•lack of feedback on performance
•partiality from superiors
•little support from superiors
•bullying/harassment/mockery from colleagues
•not seeing eye-to-eye with co-workers
•conflict among staff
Internal and external stressors are not independent of each other. They act upon one another. For instance, traffic jam may make you feel bodily and mentally tired by the time you reach your office. Your wife may have wanted your help, say, in housekeeping.
Failing to meet her expectation leads to frustration and you enter your office with it. You may thus begin your office work with stress. And workplace stresses get added to this. You feel defeated, emotionally and physically drained to put up any fight and thus accumulate stress over stress.
What are the effects of stress?
Both the body and mind suffer from:
physical : tense muscles, dizziness, rapid heartbeats, headache, allergies, hypertension,
heart ailments, impairment of immune system, irritable bowel ndrome[IBS],
chronic fatigue, weight loss/gain, insomnia
mental : reduction in memory/concentration/learning, cynicism, irritability, mental
fatigue, feeling of helplessness, reduction in productivity, illusion about life
How do we manage stress?
By managing stress, we’ll be able to remove the imbalance created by stress and bring back our mind and body to normalcy.
1. During moments of stress, don’t think, don’t exercise your mind. But
■ breathe deeply and slowly
■ tense your muscles and relax them
■ visualise a peaceful scene
■ take if possible a quick short walk for a breath of fresh air.
2. Have a balanced diet:
■ avoid processed and/or fast foods [chemical or ill-prepared foods are injurious to health.]
■ avoid coffee; caffeine is bad for health
■ take fresh fruits and vegetables; drink fresh milk.
3. Drink a lot of water [tap water will do].
Water helps all organs including brain function properly.
It helps stop dehydration due to air-conditioning or humidity.
4. Do physical exercises.
Walking is the simplest and the best exercise. A ten-minute walk a day
will do a world of good. Other exercises can also be thought of. Exercises
increases blood flow to the brain. They produce beta-endorphin that has
positive effect on how we feel. They warm and relax muscles and tissues.
They distract you from feeling stressed.
5. Sleep well.
As you go to bed, close your mind to everything else and say to yourself,
“I’ll have deep sleep.” Believe you’ll sleep well. This may take a day or
two or even a week. But persist you must and have faith in your ability to
sleep. In due course, this auto-suggestion will work. If your sleep well,
duration does not matter at all.
6. Practise meditation and perform yoga.
The former brings peace to mind and the latter, peace to the body.
1. Learn to laugh
Laughter reduces hypertension and stress hormones. It removes stale
air from the lungs and body tissues. It increases blood circulation and
strengthens immune function [by raising levels of infection-fighting
T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called gamma-interferon, and disease-fighting
antibodies called B-cells].
2. Fill your mind with positive thoughts rather than negative ones. Look at life, people
and situations positively. This is difficult but possible with effort and time.
3. Listen to music that touches your soul, that brings peace to you, that makes you happy.
4. Become, if already you’re not, an extrovert. Spend time with friends and family.
5. Get help to know the kind of person you are.
Most of us believe we know ourselves. Unfortunately, this is not the truth. We
either underestimate or overestimate ourselves and our capacities. There are
several psychological tests available. Use them to know your limits and strengths.
Work within your limits. Develop your strengths. Take steps to convert your
weaknesses into strengths. For instance, oral communication may be your problem.
But you may be good at written communication. Share your thoughts in writing initially
but gradually develop your oral skills. Nothing is impossible if you keep trying, if you never give up.
6. Avoid being stressed at all.
See stress as an opportunity to judge yourself, not as an opportunity to judge others.
When you are stressed, react to it. But don’t allow it to occupy your mind completely.
Don’t allow your mind to mull over it. Give an antidote. Analyse your thinking, your
actions, your behaviour. Don’t expect others to change their behaviour. Don’t say:
I didn’t start it. Why should I change? Don’t think: Let him change first, then I will.
This will only aggravate or worsen relationship.
We may not be able to change others. But certainly we can change ourselves. If necessary,
change your perception, that is, change how you see or understand others, situations and
yourself. Then your attitude, that is, your opinion will change. Then you can maintain your
motivation, if not improve it.
Once you have such mental balance, nothing or no one can cause stress as you know how to
handle it. Now peace and happiness will be yours.
Remember emotional health is basic to mental and body health. Don’t simply keep thinking about stress. Act
We use this emotional intelligence to detect and identify emotions of others and ours, we use this ability to understand these emotions in us and others, we use this ability to contain exhibition of emotions [especially negative ones] and channelize the energy to
perform activities like thinking and problem-solving. We use this ability to inspire
or influence others to develop their own emotional intelligence, who in turn can help others to develop theirs. In fact, it can be a sort of chain reaction occurring between people who make the effort.
Initially, the others we’re trying to help may respond negatively—by being indifferent or being even hostile. But we should not be disheartened, we should not give up, we have to exercise patience and persist in our efforts until others realize we have no personal gain except to see them happy. And then trust and respect will follow. Suddenly, the world becomes a better place to live in—for others and us.
It's important to know that people skills do not exist in isolation. They are always accompanied by compassion. Our ability to be in tune with others’ emotions is what endears us to them.
It’s important to know that people skills do not exist in isolation. They need a medium for their expression. And the medium is communicating –speaking and listening, writing and reading. What use are good intentions if they are not made known, if they are not given shape, if they are not realized, if they remain mute? What use are good intentions if they don’t get communicated?
You couldn’t imagine this world without communicating, could you? Just pause for a moment, won’t you, and imagine this world not communicating. How would this world be if everyone was mute in thought and action? If there were no communicating what would we be? And where would we be?
Communicating occurs all over the world all the time in some form or the other through some medium or the other for some purpose or the other between and among individuals, groups, organizations, societies, nations and cultures. We cannot but communicate. The urge is so great. And sometimes so urgent and so irrepressible! That’s how gossip was born. That’s how gossip grows and thrives. Disinformation is only its sophistication. We would go mad if we didn’t communicate. This is the basic philosophy employed in breaking hard-core criminals by keeping them for days without human contact.
Defining communicating, it seems, is not a difficult proposition. If I were to ask you what communicating is, you wouldn’t hesitate to tell me. You might say, “Communicating is talking.” I’d remain silent and you’d understand what you said was not enough and you might say, “ It’s writing.” I’d say, “Is that all?” You might say, “Ah, yes, it’s also listening.” I’d simply look at you. You might say, “ Ah, it’s also reading, isn’t it?” I might say, “ Well, what you’ve said are acts of communicating.” You might begin to look annoyed at what you might imagine to be my smugness, and yet you might make another attempt: “What is communicating? Aha, now I know. Exchanging information.” You might look at me victoriously. But I might say, “What you’ve said is fine, but…….” Now your annoyance would change to irritation (justifiably, of course) and you might interrupt with a challenge, “ All right. What else is it? You tell me!”
Here are some attempts at defining or describing “communicating”:
transmitting information, imparting or exchanging views, ideas, thoughts, feelings
etc. by spoken, written or body language [Reader’s Digest word power dictionary]
exchanging information, news, ideas, etc. with somebody, make your ideas, feelings,
thoughts known to other people so that they understand them [Advanced Learner’s]
sharing or exchanging information, conveying (an emotion or feeling) non-verbally[Oxford]
the exchanging of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing,
or behavior, interpersonal rapport.
communication is the sum of all the things one person does when he wants to create
understanding in the mind of another. It involves a systematic and continuous process
of telling, listening and understanding.
All these definitions seem straightforward enough, don’t they? Where is the problem, you might ask. ‘Transmit’ implies the speaker knows what to say, how to say, when to say. But do we know all the time what exactly we want to say, do we handle the medium[s] well all the time, do we choose the time that is right for transmitting? ‘Exchange’ implies the listener is responding but it doesn’t imply that the listener receives the messages exactly how the speaker wants him/her to receive, just to give one example of what might happen or not happen in the communicating process. ‘Behaviour’ and ‘rapport’ are two other key words. Communication can also be what one does not do or say.
That’s exactly the problem. Is communicating a physical act or a mental act or both? How do we know communicating is not mechanical? Is communicating a willing or a perfunctory act? We communicate all the time but when it comes to saying what communicating really is, we don’t seem to be able to do it. The fault is neither yours nor mine; it’s definitely not for lack of comprehension of the concept of communicating. I doubt if anyone can ever even attempt to describe communicating in its entirety. We may say a lot and a lot more. Yet, something will always have been left out. Communicating is a human behaviour. And is there a human behaviour that has been captured comprehensively in a few words or pages?
Yet, communicating is the only means through which we must manage our fellow beings. Let’s us see, in the rest of this book, how best we can manage people through communicating—speaking, listening, writing, reading.
We have this unstoppable urge. We wish to be heard or read. We wish to “be received”. We get upset if we are not. This urge is so demanding that we thrust ourselves on others without realizing it. We wish to “be understood”. We become annoyed or unhappy if we are not. We seek all ways to realize this wish. We wish to “be accepted”. We want recognition, respect, admiration. We are hurt if we don’t get them. We are not satisfied with being accepted, understood or appreciated. We wish to “get action”. We wish for a change of attitude or behaviour from others. So we persuade, coerce, threaten or punish.
Ideally speaking, communicating [face to face/ over phone] is a continuous process of cause and effect. I speak to you, you listen to me and then respond to me. As a speaker I initiate and as a listener you receive and respond. As you respond, you become the speaker. And now I become the listener, receive and then respond. This goes on until you and I, you or I or someone else decides to conclude the act or stop it.
1,2,3….. 1a, 2a, 3a
cause/initiate®speak/write/act ®® effect/respond®listen/read/act
1c,2c,3c…… 1b, 2b, 3b
In reality, however, communicating is non-interactive (one way) or partly interactive (part
one-way [i] speaking®® listening(?)
one-way ‘ii] speaking®®listening
one-way [iii] speaking®®listening
¬ ¬¬ ¯
silence¬ ¬¬ ¬¬¯
part two-way [i] speaking®®listening
silence¬ ¬¬ speaking
part two-way [ii] speaking ®® ®listening
silence¬ ¬¬ speaking
Whether one-way or two-way, comprehending need not be total all the time. Mere communicating does not guarantee comprehension.
Communicating orally is made up of several constituents. There must be a speaker, which automatically implies the presence of a listener. They in turn impart, convey, exchange or share messages of personal or non-personal nature through one or more than one medium in a given context.
For the process of communicating to start, an initiator and a receiver are necessary. Occasionally, the receiver could be a pet or domestic animal. Very often, a single human being could be talking and listening to himself/herself.
However, most often, communication takes place between [i] two individuals, [ii] two groups, [iii] one and several and [iv] among several. When two individuals or two groups communicate, they are engaging in conversation. When one individual communicates with several, he/she is lecturing, giving a seminar or making a speech. When several individuals communicate among themselves, they are engaging in group discussion or brainstorming.
The speaker and the listener should use their mental [process of thinking, analyzing and understanding], linguistic [language related] abilities and nonverbal behaviour to participate in the communicating event.
Messages are also known as sensations or stimuli. They can be non-personal or personal. Non-personal messages contain information/facts. Since information can be verified it is termed non-personal. Personal messages contain thoughts, impressions, feelings, emotions. Thoughts can be suggestions, interpretations, requests, recommendations, orders, decisions, enquiries, beliefs, values. Impressions include fears, prejudices and the like. Likes and dislikes, tastes form feelings. Emotions may be anger, jealousy, shock, disappointment, happiness, sadness, wonder, surprise, pleasure, joy. All these messages are personal and cannot be verified.
These messages are derived from the knowledge stored in memory. This knowledge is about people, places, objects, ideas. It is gained through experience by interacting (either directly or through the experiences of others) with environment consisting of people, places, objects, ideas. Then these messages are encoded [formed] and decoded [received] with the help of one or more mediums.
It is not enough if there are people to interact; it’s not enough if there are messages to convey. People require a medium. Language, speech aspects, body language, visuals are the mediums we use to encode and decode and thus interact. We will learn about these in detail in the section 1.28 entitled ‘outlets’.
The context provides the climate for the communicating act. It’s the environment in which we move, mingle, mix, think, talk, satisfy others and us. This context is internal as well as external.
The internal climate comprises the purpose, self-image, images of others, health and relationship.
Generally it is the speaker who has a purpose in communicating. The nature of the purpose will depend on the specific communicating occasion. For Relationship see 1.22 entitled ‘levels’.
We have within us stored knowledge gained through our experiences. This knowledge consists of information we have gathered, concepts we have formed, the attitudes we hold, the values we believe in, the mediums at our disposal, the feelings we have towards us and others, the emotions we experience, the needs we have to fulfil. This knowledge comprises our self-esteem [low/moderate/high], our awareness of how well or ill we use our abilities of speaking, listening, writing and reading, of how good or poor our logic and abilities like interpreting, inferring, evaluative are, of our self-confidence [low/moderate/high], of our personality [aggressive/assertive/timid/brave/cowardly], and so on.
If our evaluation of our total self-image is more than real [high], it becomes superiority complex, and if it less than real [low], it becomes inferiority complex. If it is close to real, we have a balanced view of ourselves.
This knowledge about self is crucial to how well or poorly we perform as speakers or listeners or non-participating partners.
1.20 Images of others
We also have within us images of our communicating and non-communicating partners, of those who are participating or not participating in communicating events. We form favourable, unfavourable, neutral images of these people through direct contact/ experience or hearsay/based on experiences of others and through how we interpret these experiences.
This knowledge about others is again crucial to how well or poorly we perform as speakers or listeners or non-participating partners.
This refers to the physical condition (whether ill or well), the physical ease (whether comfortable or not), and mental disposition. Mental disposition includes perception, attitude, motivation, confidence, closeness, curiosity, concern, uncertainty, fear, and so on. All these will decide the mood we’ll be in when we communicate, what we say and how we say them.
The external climate comprises location, noise, audience and relationship between audience and us as willing/unwilling participants. Location refers to the climate and the geography of the place where the communicating act occurs. Noise refers to all the sounds that surround the participants. Audience refers to the people who may or may not be present throughout the communicating act, who may join after the act has begun and who may leave before the act concludes. Their personalities form an integral part of the external climate. Relationship refers to the level of intimacy between us and the members of the audience. The status is another aspect that will affect the relationship.
Only when all these constituents function properly can we manage people through communicating.
Communicating occurs at three different levels: extrapersonal, intrapersonal, interpersonal.
It’s not uncommon to find people talking to animals, pets, plants, elements of nature. Farmers talks to their bulls, milkmen to their cows, herdsmen to their animals, horse trainers to their horses, children to their pets, dedicated gardeners to their flowers and plants, humans to the Sun or rain god, poets to nature. Through such communication, we seem to seek friendship, companionship, consolation, encouragement.
When we meditate, contemplate, when we think, analyze, interpret in our mind, we are communicating to ourselves. Also messages move between body and brain, and brain and body. When a mosquito bites you, when you eat something too hot, when your body meets darkness, when a stranger touches you, when you hear your name being called or announced, messages reach the brain and the brain in turn issues instructions for the body to follow. When you read articles on AIDS, harmful consequences of drinking and smoking, your brain decides one way or the other and the body complies.
When we wish to talk to someone other than us, we’re communicating interpersonally. We talk to people we know or people we don’t know. And they may in turn communicate to us.
Yet there are differences, aren’t there, in the way we view them and communicate with them. Some relatives are different from the others; some neighbours are closer to us than the others. Some friends are dearer to us than the others. Acquaintances are different from friends. An elderly colleague from one of our age, one sister/brother from another. We don’t treat all at the same level. We reflect these differences in our levels of communicating—in what we say and how we say, in our gestures, in our attitudes, in the kind of language choice. These relationships are linked to and so affected by the levels of intimacy.
With zero/no intimacy, the relationship is formal. Our communicating will be formal with officials in public and private organizations, with superiors in workplace, editors of newspapers, journals and magazines, and with strangers. We don’t make personal enquiries, we are polite and respectful to them. With some intimacy, the relationship is semi-formal. Our communicating will be semi-formal with public figures, with acquaintances, with some relatives and friends. We are not close and may not share with them everything about us. With almost full intimacy, the relationship is informal. Our communicating will be informal with some friends and relatives. We feel like sharing with them almost everything about us.
officials in public or private organizations such as government offices, educational
institutions, business houses
superiors in professional set-up
editors of newspapers and magazines
strangers other than those belonging to the three categories above
·friends with whom you public You know them through their services to the society
· relatives are very intimate figures They are leaders in politics, religion and various other
[immediate] and with whom They are not strangers to you though they may not know
[ or distant] you want to share
·neighbours your inmost thoughts
public You know them through their services to the society
figures They are leaders in politics, religion and various other
They are not strangers to you though they may not kn
distant These are distant by relation and contact. So the
relatives intimacy level is generally low and may remain so.
immediate These are close to you by relation; they are your parents,
relatives sisters, brothers, wife and children. But the intimacy level
may not be high enough to share with them your inmost thoughts.
acquaintances You met them somewhere or have been introduced to them.
friends with whom you are not very intimate
The movement of communication from one to another or a group of persons indicates the flow. The flow can be downward, upward, lateral, or diagonal as you can see below:
If the top management is A the next level below in the hierarchy is B1, B2, B3 and the next level below is C1, C2, C3 under B1, B2 and B3 respectively. Upward, downward, horizontal, and diagonal communication occurs between them and among them.
Downward communication takes place when messages move downwards from the top management to the lowest level in the chain of command. The messages include routine information, new or modified management policies, schedules or procedures, asking for clarification. They may be conveyed telephonically or personally, or they may come in the shape of notices, memos, bulletins.
Upward communication takes place when message move upwards from the lowest level to the top management. The messages include feedback, reports, recommendations, suggestions, findings. This is not a common feature in organizations where authority dominates. Middle level managers act as ‘gatekeepers’ between the lower and the upper levels.
Lateral or horizontal communication takes place when messages move sideways between and among workers of equal status. This facilitates coordination between departments and promotes smooth functioning of the organization. However, this can create conflicts if this type of communication lacks official sanction from the top management.
Diagonal communication takes place when messages move in all directions cutting across hierarchical levels. Here, a production manager has direct access to, say, Vice President [finance] without going through his superior—Vice President [production]. This type of communication helps when there is pressure for immediate action. Even this communication needs official sanction for its success or acceptance as an informal procedure.
1.27 Communication networks
Network, in computing, refers to a number of computers and other devices connected
together in order to share equipment and information.
A network, in terms of administering activities of a given group, is a ‘closely
connected group of’ people, departments, offices established for the common purpose
of exchange of information.
This expression is intimately linked with ‘organizational communication’. A Chain
Network does not permit deviations and the communication is vertical, that is,
downward or upward. A Y-Network permits both vertical and horizontal
communication. The Wheel Network permits several workers reporting to one person.
This combines both horizontal and diagonal flow of messages. The Circle Network
permits vertical communication between subordinates and superiors, and horizontal
among workers. An All-Channel Network allows everybody to communicate with
every other person. There is no restriction in sending or receiving messages.
All these five networks exist at a formal level for all official purposes.
There is one communication network that we should mention and know about. Because this is informal and perhaps the most powerful means of communication that underlines group behaviour. We all gossip, don’t we? When we gossip, we discuss, describe, probe, analyse, dissect people, their actions and activities –personal and official. We spread, add, remove information that we believe to be true or false. Gossip occurs in pairs or groups or in clusters.
This gossip has a modest name—grapevine. Most managements encourage workers to indulge in gossip because this is a convenient means of sending and receiving messages.
Grapevine carries information, messages, opinions from and to the management. Of course, there is always the danger of communications getting twisted out of shape.
Though we may never know for sure how the early inhabitants of this earth communicated, we could probably say they must have initially expressed themselves through actions and producing sounds of various sorts. Over a period of time they must have found these inadequate and hence evolved a symbol system of a kind to identify things around them, to express their reactions to them, to convey all else they wanted. Then as population increased, circumstances must have compelled them to split up and different symbol systems must have thus emerged.
Today we have at our disposal several mediums and innumerable ways of communicating through them.
1. symbols : language, sports, art forms, signals
2. non-verbal : body language : facial expression,
messages gestures, eye contact, nodding, proximity,
touch, orientation[posture], time, physical
characteristics, speech aspects: voice,
stress, accent, volume, silence
We express ourselves through “sports and art forms” as professionals, as audience and as critics. Sports include games, track and field events. Art forms include singing, dancing, painting, photographing, sculpting, sketching, designing, movies, dramas, mimes.
Traffic lights, zebra crossing, road signs, hand signals, whistling come under ‘signals’.
Language, in a broad sense, is any method of expression. “Sign language’, ‘body language’ are examples.
We also have the ‘language of mime’, ‘the language of mathematics’, ‘deaf-and-dumb language’, ‘the subtle language of a woman’s eyes’, ‘the language of flowers’, ‘a language of dots and dashes’, ‘the dancing language of bees’. As all of us know, ‘music’ is considered a universal language. Dancing, painting, sculpting, pictures, photographs have their own languages and grammar.
But generally speaking, the word ‘language’, when heard or read, evokes in us the image of language as humans use it. Here are some descriptions of language:
“Speech is the representation of the experience of the mind” (Aristotle)
“Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating
ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily
produced symbols.” (Sapir)
“A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a
social group cooperates.” (Block and Trager)
“When we study human language, we are approaching what some might
call “human essence” the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far
as we know, unique to them.” (Chomsky)
“Language is the method of human communication, either spoken or
written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.” (Oxford)
“Language is a communication system to express thoughts and
emotions by symbols and sounds, etc.” (Reader’s Digest Word Power Dictionary)
To put it another way,
· Language is a system of symbols.
· The symbols consist of a given set of sounds and corresponding
· These sounds and letters are used in given patterns in speech
Note: ‘given’ means that every human language is distinct from
each other in that all of them do not have the same set and
do not use them in the same patterns.
We use organs like air stream mechanism (to push air out of the lungs), the vocal cords, the roof of the mouth, the tongue, the teeth and the lips. When we use them in certain ways, we produce vowels and consonants. When we use vowels and consonants in certain combinations, we form words to carry meaning. When we use words in certain combinations, we form sentences to carry meaning.
Register is the next aspect of knowledge of language choice that we need to know about. It is a given set of words and sentences structures that we use with a set of people. We speak of the register of medicine, the register of agriculture, the register of technology, the register of journalism and so on.
I may share a set of thoughts in different registers with different people. Here is an example:
(to my wife) : Met that fool Sekar today. Wants his job…..
colleague) : Remember Sekar? You don’t? He’s the one
who stole the money and tried to pin it on me.
He wants his job back. Look at his temerity!
(to my boss): I met Mr Sekar yesterday, sir, he was
dismissed a month ago for stealing, if you
remember. He asked me to enquire if his
post was still vacant. I said I’d pass on the
the message, sir.
Here I used different language choices (registers) because my relationship varied. “Dhoni carried his bat” would mean different things: in general English it would mean ‘Dhoni carried an object called ‘bat’ whereas in the language of cricket it would mean ‘Dhoni remained not out’.
Then there is denotation or connotation. When we use a word referring to objects, concepts or actions, it has denotative meaning. The word ‘fire’ in “The fire spread quickly” refers to flames whereas the same word has a connotative meaning in “I was fired” because it means more than “I lost my job”. So connotation provides an idea or a feeling in addition to its primary meaning. We need to be careful with adjectives. “Thin” is generally negatively connotative while “lean” or “slim” is favourably connotative. “Chubby” is favourably connotative and “fat” is negatively connotative when we use them with reference to a child. “You want me to come home? A home is not just blocks of walls with a roof, you know!” Here the speaker is attaching his values to the object the word is referring to.
Then we have arranging words in specific structures. “Quality product” conveys a meaning different form “product quality”. “He’s there” gives a message different from “There he is!”. “All” in ‘I know what they all wanted’ and in ‘All they wanted was understanding’ expresses different thoughts.
Since we want to manage people through communicating, we require
a good command of the English language. A good command of English
implies that we should know and use words and sentence structures
appropriate to messages and without meaning and grammar errors so
that listeners can clearly understand what we are saying, and will want
to respond to.
five syllable words : ac|com|mo|da|tion, ac|cu|mu|la|tion
See Active Listening
1.53 What are these barriers?
See Active Listening
1.54 Internal barriers [occurring within an individual and between individuals]
See Active Listening
1.55 External barriers [environment outside individuals]
See Active Listening
Communicating efficiently and effectively
Managing is a global challenge that encompasses other challenges. Managing is not avoiding problems, not ignoring them and not wishing they would go away in time. Managing is facing problems and solving them. Managing is equipping us with ‘skills’. Managing is using these ‘skills’ to handle and help people so that everyone benefits.
We can manage people by communicating efficiently and effectively. Communicating efficiently implies the knowledge and use, with minimum effort, of verbal and nonverbal mediums suited to the listener[s] and the context of communicating. Communicating effectively implies being partners-friendly so that everyone benefits.
1.57 Communicating efficiently
To start with, we should be clear about what we want to say. We should decide what we want to talk about, how much of it and to whom we should say this. In other words, planning is necessary, organizing thoughts according to purpose is necessary. Next, we should have a good command of the English language. A good command of English implies that we know words and sentence structures appropriate to conveying messages and use them without meaning and grammar errors; we should also have a good knowledge of non-verbal language appropriate to the communicating act and use them to support [not negate] the verbal communication so that listeners can clearly understand what we are saying.
1.58 Communicating effectively
Mere efficiency will not suffice. A communicating act comes to fruition only when it is performed effectively. We should get the cooperation of partners to join and complete the communicating act. For this we should enter into the act without self images and the images of listeners affecting negatively what and how we want to convey—without assumptions and expectations, for these are the major barriers to communicating. Most of the time we are so preoccupied with our needs, our desires, our hopes and with how others’ responses will affect us that we forget to treat our partners properly. This tendency on our part is not being selfish—probably it is instinctively geared towards self preservation.
But communicating effectively is essential even for our survival, let alone for our happiness or prosperity or those of others. We should be more ‘you’-oriented’ than ‘I-oriented’. We should constantly remember that we are not perfect, that it’s not fair to expect others to be perfect, that we should do our best to adjust ourselves to the needs and expectations of co-actors, that we should cooperate with our listeners before we expect them to do so. In other words, our perceptions of and attitude towards listeners should be neutral if not favourable.
Stiffness breeds only stiffness, tension begets only tension whereas understanding cannot result in misunderstanding, small adjustments strengthen relationships and make managing people a reality. Langdon Mitchell said: “Marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness.” Communicating effectively is seven parts warmth and three parts compromise. Communicating then becomes a win-win situation for all the participants.