How do we become competent in communication?

Answered by Robert Dupre

Becoming competent in communication requires a combination of cognitive knowledge, awareness of individual, social, and cultural contexts, and the ability to adapt to those contexts. Let’s explore each of these components in detail.

Firstly, cognitive knowledge about communication is essential. This knowledge can be acquired through observation and instruction. By observing effective communicators, we can learn valuable insights into various communication strategies, such as active listening, nonverbal cues, and effective speaking techniques. Instruction, whether through formal education or self-study, can provide us with theoretical frameworks and models that help us understand the complexities of communication.

However, it’s important to note that knowledge alone is not enough. Competent communicators also recognize that communication is influenced by individual, social, and cultural contexts. Each person has their own unique communication style, preferences, and biases. Being aware of these individual differences allows us to tailor our communication approach to effectively connect with others.

Furthermore, social and cultural contexts play a significant role in shaping communication. Different cultures have varying norms, values, and expectations when it comes to communication. Competent communicators are sensitive to these cultural differences and adapt their communication style accordingly. They avoid making assumptions or generalizations and strive to understand and respect the cultural perspectives of others.

Adapting to different contexts is a crucial aspect of communication competence. It involves being flexible and adjusting our communication style based on the specific situation, audience, and goals. For example, the way we communicate with a close friend may be different from how we communicate with a colleague or a stranger. Adapting our language, tone, and nonverbal cues helps us establish rapport and effectively convey our message in different settings.

In addition to cognitive knowledge and context sensitivity, competent communicators also continuously strive to improve their communication skills. They actively seek feedback from others, reflect on their own communication experiences, and engage in self-improvement efforts. By doing so, they can identify areas for growth and work towards enhancing their communication abilities.

To summarize, becoming competent in communication requires cognitive knowledge acquired through observation and instruction. It also involves understanding and adapting to individual, social, and cultural contexts. Continuous improvement and self-reflection are essential for developing and maintaining communication competence. By embracing these principles, we can enhance our ability to effectively connect and communicate with others in a variety of situations.