The ability to communicate effectively is an essential part of human life and is profoundly influenced by not only our own cognitive states and abilities, but also the states and abilities of those with whom we are communicating. With some people we can communicate effortlessly, finding ourselves completely in sync with them. With others it can seem that no matter what we try, we fail to get through to them.
The ability to communicate well is important in all areas of work because all will involve some kind of human interaction, but is clearly especially important for those in professions such as the law, teaching, sales and the media. It is also, of course, of supreme importance in our interactions with family and friends: poor communication here can damage, and even end, relationships.
Why do we communicate? We do so to achieve some kind of goal. It might be to ask for something, to convey an idea, to persuade someone to do something, to make someone like us or simply to spend time with someone. If we communicate effectively it should help us to achieve that goal, but if we communicate poorly it might have the opposite effect. The purpose of understanding how we communicate is to help us tailor our communication in such a way that it maximises its effectiveness, moving us closer to our goals, while being consistent with what we want to say. As such it is important to understand not only our own cognitive states but also those of our audience, whether it is one person or many.
An awareness of cognition is important because communication consists of much more than simply the words we use. In face-to-face interactions, for example, the importance of just the words can be as low as seven per cent. Other factors include the timbre, volume and rhythm of our speech, as well as our body language.
Even in situations where communication consists of nothing but words, such as when we are writing, cognitive factors are still important. Different people might react to the same word in different ways or react differently to different styles of writing. So, it is always important to consider your audience when thinking about how you communicate.
Our courses on communication cover such elements as how to establish rapport with another person, the different ways we view the world and how that can affect the language we use, tailoring the words we use to our audience, learning language patterns that will elicit other people's resources and the language patterns that will help us understand exactly what they are thinking. We also look at areas of current research such as those that will help you to be more persuasive and to recognise when someone is telling you the truth or lying to you.
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