Communication is “the collaborative process of using messages to create and participate in social reality.” (Edwards, Edwards, Wahl, and Myers, 2016). Throughout my time in communication, I have learned so many new ways to communicate. We have focused our time on discovering the ways of the communication world. So, what I learned in communication class. We’ve learned about the evolution of communication to the different aspects of communicating. Along with this, comes perception, intercultural communication, and public speaking which will be the focus of my essay. I will also address my evolution in communication amongst interpersonal relationships, small groups, and public speaking which I will address first.
First, let me begin by saying that I’ve always been a person who has been involved in extracurriculars that required communication. I’ve had to perform while singing in front of a large group and also attend important meetings. From musicals to being the president of the student council, the elements of communication have always been vital. However, coming into this class, I have learned that I do not always communicate effectively. Within interpersonal relationships, I have learned the importance of listening vs hearing. More often than not, we are hearing and not listening. This is because many distractions can prohibit you from truly listening to someone. Listening as described in the book is “an active process of receiving and understanding messages received.” (Edwards et al., 2016). I’ve made it my new mission to make sure that I’m actively listening to conversations with my friends. I know the importance of being listened to because I want the same for myself. Whenever I am talking to someone I cancel out as many distractions as I can, like my phone. Starting the volunteer club at Park University has forced me to understand small group communication to achieve our goals. Communicating effectively within a small group is important so everyone is on track and can contribute to the group. I used to take on all the stress alone but I have found that if I’m communicating the needs of the group then people are willing to help out and I’m less stressed. When it comes to public speaking, this class has grown my confidence. I, now, know the different elements of public speaking such as eye contact, transitions, and body language. These all contribute to your speech because they can keep the audience engaged and show that you are focused and interested in your topic. I used to get super nervous before speaking but over time my nerves have settled because I’m becoming familiarized with effective public speaking methods. I am aware of my body language, use transitions to keep a good flow and try to make contact to show that I am knowledgeable about my topic.
Secondly, I will discuss the concepts of communication. Along with the elements of communication comes perception. The Communication Age book does a great job of identifying and explaining perception. Perception is just being mindful of and able to understand the world (Edwards et al., 2016). Being able to see others’ points of view is vital when it comes to being around people of different backgrounds. With different backgrounds come different ideas and thoughts. Understanding them is important within your career field and interactions within society. This allows you to communicate better with those around you and have insight into why people may behave a certain way. This is especially important when it comes to intercultural communication. This includes diversity which is the differences in people (Edwards et al., 2016). Including age, religion, gender, etc. To me, diversity is just the differences amongst people. Perception helps us to become aware of diversities. By understanding diversity, you can become empathetic to others which is useful for life in general. It can help you develop better relationships with those around you. I’ve always been around different types of people so I can verify that this is true! I have a strong sense of empathy because I know that everyone has a different background and experience. Everywhere we go we are faced with diversity, knowing and understanding what it is and how people are affected by it can allow us to explore outside of our comfort zones.
Lastly, I must say that public speaking hasn’t typically been something I’ve adored. In high school, I had to give speeches in front of the entire school during assemblies. I would spend so much time practicing my verbiage and making sure not to use filler words. However, I have learned that along with public speaking comes language and non-verbal communication. I never knew about the importance of these when it comes to public speaking. Language is “a system of words represented by symbols, used for a common purpose by a group of people”. (Edwards et al., 2016). Language is important for public speaking because you have to use the appropriate language based on the group you’re talking to. Giving a speech to a group of adults will look a lot different than giving a speech to children. You might use more complex language with adults than children and may even use societal terms (or slang). When conducting speeches, I know how to switch the language I use. Often, I may have to represent the volunteer club to get funding or speak to my peers. The language I use will be very different because, on the one hand, I have to communicate more formally while on the other I can be more informal. Non-verbals also play an important part when public speaking. Nonverbal communication is kind of like silent communication, it is how we communicate without talking (Edwards et al., 2016). We can assume how someone is feeling or thinking without hearing them talk. Nonverbals can play a huge part in how your interactions are perceived. Knowing this is great when you are public speaking because you can assess how your audience is feeling and adjust. If you see someone yawning or people’s eye contact drifting this tells you that you need to engage the audience more or find a way to get them focused. In the volunteer club, if people are communicating that they are tired using nonverbals then I can do an activity to get them up or an icebreaker to wake them up. These elements are vital to becoming an effective public speaker.
In conclusion, learning about the different aspects of communication has fostered a strong understanding of the importance of communication. This essay was a discussion on perception, intercultural communication, and public speaking, what I learned in communication class. I highlighted my growth in communication within interpersonal relationships, small groups, and public speaking. Overall, communication has taught me to be aware of how I am communicating with others and the importance of it.