5 Communication barriers and brainstorming activities

This blog post revolves around the importance and basics of communication and activities to remove communication barriers. 

Basics of Communication

The basics of communication include:

  • Taking turns and being empathetic during the conversation
  • Using respectful vocabulary and keeping the conversation as healthy as possible
  • Practicing in a natural setting to raise confidence in social situations
  • Pausing while communicating to improve listening and clarifying skills

What are communication skills?

We as humans need to give and receive information in order to understand function in our daily lives. The ability to be able to do so is known as communication skills.

Effective communication comprises of the following skills:

  • Listening
  • Speaking 
  • Empathizing 
  • Observing 

Communication takes place through speech (these include verbal exchanges), Through writing (written media such as websites, books, magazines, letters, newspapers), visuals (by making use of maps, charts, and graphs).

Communication also takes place through non-verbal exchange (eye contact, gestures, body language, tone, and pitch of one’s voice). 

It helps us in making sense of and understanding people we encounter, situations, and different life events. 

Communication skills help in building trust and respect, connect with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and create and make space for sharing creative insight and problem-solving.

Basics of Communication

The basics of communication include:

  • Taking turns and being empathetic during the conversation
  • Using respectful vocabulary and keeping the conversation as healthy as possible
  • Practicing in a natural setting to raise confidence in social situations
  • Pausing while communicating to improve listening and clarifying skills

Importance and benefits of communication

  • Effective communication enables conveying how you are feeling, your needs, and your boundaries. This can also result in high levels of self-efficacy.
  • It brings down the possibility of violence and instills empathy and compassion in individuals.
  • It also increases the levels of emotional intelligence, mental well-being.
  • Setting boundaries through effective communication can build the skill of assertively communicating. 
  • This enables individuals to communicate how they are feeling and their needs but by being mindful of the other person at the same time.

Types of communication skills

There are different types of communication skills that you could possibly learn in order to be able to communicate better. 

These skills are interrelated and work better when combined and practicing these skills is key. 

Listening skills

Actively listening and paying close attention to the person who is talking to you is important. Often we tend to listen to someone just to reply back to them. This limits our ability to make sense of what the other person is trying to convey.

By listening to the other person to understand their perspective and mindfully replying back to them is something you could focus on to develop communication skills. 

This skill might seem simple but might take constant focus and awareness. You can be an active listener by avoiding possible distractions in the surroundings and by asking questions in case you need to clarify something.

By sharing your opinions, comments, and ideas in a constructive manner can benefit the other person as well. This also enhances the quality of conversation and qualifies as a healthy one.

Communication style

We tend to adapt to different styles of communication depending on the situation. It is important to consider your audience, make the best out of your communication skills and develop an effective format to communicate better.

For instance: If you need to communicate complex information with your co-worker, it’s better to communicate via audio call/ video call than by communicating via email. 

The right amount of friendliness

Two of the most important characteristics in friendships are- honesty and kindness. These characteristics help in fostering understanding and trust in our interpersonal relationships. 

The very same characteristics are important in workplace and professional relationships as well. 

By keeping an open mind, approaching others with a positive attitude, asking questions to clarify and create a better understanding are a few ways of enhancing your communication with others. 

Constructive feedback

In order to develop healthy communication skills, it is very important to be able to give and receive constructive feedback. 

This comprises answering questions, providing solutions, or even helping strengthen the topic at hand.

Tone, pace, and clarity

It is important to be mindful of your tone, pace, and volume while speaking to someone or in a gathering. 

By being clear and audible one can effectively communicate and it’s a critical factor for developing communication skills.

In certain settings speaking loudly might come across as awkward or disrespectful. 

Non-verbal cues

Our body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures convey a great deal apart from what we are trying to convey through words. 

While having a conversation with someone it is important to actively listen to what they are saying and at the same time also pay attention to their body language. 

Thus, it is also important for you to be aware of your body language while communicating, to ensure that you are able to fully convey what you intend to, to the other person or the group.

Reciprocity

The way you reciprocate and respond to someone you need to attend to is important. 

Whether it be returning a phone call that you’ve missed or responding back to a text message or email, the faster you do so determines the effectiveness of your communication skills. 

If the message seems too complex, it is okay to let the person on the other end know that you’ve received the message by simply acknowledging and that you’d get back to them later, fully. 

Emotional intelligence

The ability to manage your emotions and understand them while communicating are important components of emotional intelligence. This helps in avoiding stress and dealing with challenges as well as empathizing with others. 

Emotional intelligence is learned over time through various experiences that we encounter on our way.

The main components of emotional intelligence are self and social awareness, self and relationship management. These components are essential in their own way and enable you to communicate effectively with other people.

Respect

By paying attention to others, trying to understand their perspective and where they could possibly be coming from help in developing respect.

By respecting others’ opinions and ideas,  they would be more interested and likely to communicate with you. 

Communication skills enable you to understand and be understood by others. This forms the basis of any healthy conversation and our daily interactions with others.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Some activities to remove barriers in communication are:

  • Element of nature
  • Story of your name 
  • Repeating introductions 
  • Introducing each other 
  • Shining work moments

Element of nature

Directions: Participants of the group are asked to introduce themselves to the group by mentioning their name and other basic details.

Participants are encouraged to also name an element in nature that they would best associate themselves to and explain why they chose that particular element.

For instance: flowers, clouds, trees, and anything under the sun or even the sun, in this case.

Story of your name

Directions: Each participant in the group is asked to share any story, fact, history, or background behind their name either their first, maiden, or last name. 

This activity serves as an ideal way to remove communication barriers as participants link the story shared by the participant to their name, making it all the more interesting.

Repeating introductions 

Directions: In this communication, icebreaker participants are asked to share the following information about themselves with the group- their name, favorite activity that they indulge in during their leisure time, and where they would like to be at the moment. 

Anyone from the group can volunteer to begin this activity. The participant who goes next needs to share the same about themselves and the three things shared by the previous participant with the group.

This activity is then continued with the rest of the group where the consecutive participant is asked to repeat the previous participants’ introduction to the group.

Participants are allowed to help in case anyone needs assistance. This can help increase participation and interaction within the group as a whole. 

Introducing each other

Directions: Participants are asked to break into pairs by asking each of them to work with the person sitting next to them in the group. In case the group is an odd number the last group can break in as a triad.

Participants are then asked to spend 7-10 minutes learning about each other, by having a conversation and at the end of 10 minutes, each participant is asked to introduce their designated partner to the group. 

Suggest the participants cover themes such as interests, schooling, skills, vacation destination, or peculiar food combinations that they are fond of. 

The introductions must be kept brief for about a minute or two so that all participants get to speak during this activity. 

Through this activity barriers in communication can be removed. 

Participants learn about the rest of the group and also enhance skills such as active listening, retaining information and paraphrasing. 

Shining work moments

Directions: This communication icebreaker game encourages participants to share three moments in their career where they felt like they gave it their all and reaped its benefits. 

Participants thus need to look back on their career and identify three moments that they are proud of.

In case the group consists of a large number of participants can be separated into groups of 4 or 5.  They can share one shining moment each and listen carefully and identify common themes.

Once everyone is done with their sharing, participants can come forward and share their experiences and the common themes that they were able to identify within their group.  

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently asked questions

What are the three types of communication skills?

The three primary types of communication skills are verbal (usage of words to deliver) non-verbal (gestures, body language, eye contact), and visual communication.

What are the five good communication skills?

The 5 skills required for communication are- active listening, talking clearly and directly to the point rather than beating around the bush, non-verbal communication through gestures, eye contact, body language, effectively dealing and managing with stress, and being able to understand and regulate one’s emotions. 

What are the 7 communication skills?

The basic C’s to communication are- concise, concrete, clear, correct, courteous, coherent, and complete.

What are the top skills required to communicate effectively?

The top skills required to effectively communicate are- active listening, empathy, open mind, confidence, being clear and concise, being respectful, paying attention and paying attention, and being mindful of non-verbal cues.

What are the basic communication skills?

The basic communication skills are active listening, speaking, writing, and reading. The way you present your ideas and communicate with others creates a lasting impression on people about you. 

References 

SkillsYouNeed. (2011). Communication Skills | SkillsYouNeed. Skillsyouneed.com. https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/communication-skills.html

Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples. (n.d.). Indeed Career Guide. https://in.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/communication-skills

Smarp. (2019). Top 5 Communication Skills and How to Improve Them. Smarp.com. https://blog.smarp.com/top-5-communication-skills-and-how-to-improve-them

CFI. (2018). Communication – Importance of Good Communication Skills. Corporate Finance Institute. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/soft-skills/communication/

Top 10 Communication Skills: What Are They? (2018). Wikijob.co.uk. https://www.wikijob.co.uk/content/interview-advice/competencies/communication

Garber, P. (n.d.). 50 Communications Activities, Icebreakers, and Exercises. Retrieved January 15, 2021, from 

https://downloads.hrdpressonline.com/files/6820080609105844.pdf

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