In the first part of this series on communication, we explored how the words we use can create problems in clearly conveying the messages we intend. The second part of the series covered how nonverbal and paraverbal factors interact with what we say to augment or change our messages. This third (and concluding) installment will address the listening side of communication. The first two parts focused on what we broadcast, but an equally important factor is how we are receiving messages from those with whom we interact.
When people describe the conflicts they have with their partners (or anyone else for that matter), a common thread is that the conversation escalates. It may start out as a slight disagreement but soon becomes a full scale, bridge burning, name calling free for all. While there is much to be said about conflict resolution, that is a subject for another time. I want to focus here on how we can use listening as a communication tool to attempt to avoid the sparks of conflict from turning into a full blown forest fire.
In the first part of this series, we explored three issues that interfere with effective verbal communication (see Part 1 for all of the details). This second part of the series will address issues beyond verbal communication. We will explore other ways that we communicate with our body and voice.
Other types of communication
It is easy to grasp verbal communication. We pay attention to what we are saying and, by default, we are working on our verbal communication. The issues that we will explore here are a bit more nebulous and can be more difficult to comprehend (but if I do a good job, you will be able to understand it in short order). Let’s break down these other types of communication into 3 broad categories: nonverbal factors, paraverbal factors, and interactional relationships.
“Komunikacija je primarni način kako smo u interakciji sa drugima.” Did you have a hard time understanding this? Let me try again. “Kommunikation ist die primäre Methode, wie wir mit anderen interagieren.“ Still struggling? I’ll try to communicate more clearly this time: Communication is the primary method of how we interact with others. (The first two statements were in Bosnian and German, respectively.) When we are speaking different languages, it is clear why we are having a hard time understanding one another. This article is not about how to translate languages, though. It is about the misunderstandings and miscommunication that happen even when everyone is speaking the same language.