Impeccable Mixed-State Communication: Part 2

Sequel to the previous article on the broad concept of mixed-state communication, here, without further delay, we proceed to address the common pitfalls associated with a flawed mixed-state communication. From the foregoing, we have established the fact that the efficacy of verbal communication is marked by an understanding of the clarity and purpose of the sent message. If there happens to be a mismatch between what was sent and what was received, the communication is then pronounced ineffective. What are some of the common blockades that preclude verbal and non-verbal clarity?

Credit: Austin Distel via Unsplash

  1. Vocabulary deficit: Insufficient knowledge of the language of communication makes it a hell of a task to communicate your thoughts explicitly. Limited vocabulary leads to the "ems," "ums," and "ahs" that litter your sentences like waste on a dumpsite. These verbal fillers, as they are called, serve to help fill the space between words, as you rummage through your entire repository of vocabulary, searching for the right words. Sentences filled with filler words do not come across as coherent and articulate, making it arduous for the receiver to make out what the sender of the message is trying to verbalize.

  2. Incongruity between spoken words and gestures: How would someone who seeks to explain some phenomenon in the clouds, but constantly points to the ground, come across? If that is not outlandish, then I do not know what is. This bolsters the fact that our actions can be the exact opposite of what we are saying. Mismatches like this must be avoided at all costs. Both gestures and words must align, communication-wise. Eye contact should be maintained during your speech, as well.

  3. Accelerated speech rate and tone: Again, effective communication is ensured when clarity is unhampered. If your speech rate is too fast, your conversation partner might not be able to make out a word you say, let alone understand you. When speaking, it is crucial to speak at a speech rate that the receiver is comfortable listening to, to ensure understanding on their part. Also, attention must be paid to the tonal variation. Where it is necessary to use a falling tone, a falling tone must be used, and where a rising tone is necessary, a falling tone should not be used. All these are aimed at ensuring zero ambiguity and total clarity of expressed thoughts.

  4. Little to zero listening: Communication is never a one-way street. This only means it has to be a dialogue. As we verbalize our thoughts and ideas, it is equally consequential to actively listen to the ideas and thoughts of the other party involved in the exchange. In this manner, it becomes less probable that any of the participants in the dialogue is misunderstood. However, when the aim is to constantly speak without listening, the other party loses interest quickly and, at this point, communication quickly becomes ineffective.

  5. Little to no practice of communication in the language of interest: The only time you will experience an improvement in a skill without practice is when pigs finally fly. Okay, jokes apart, as with other practical skills, improvement in effective communication comes with constant practice. Vocabulary development and constant use of learned words in day-to-day conversations to build a library of active words is the way to go for improvement in verbal communication. The more you practice, the better you become!

Credit: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash
Credit: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash

In conclusion, multiple approaches can be used to enhance both verbal and nonverbal communication. By speaking clearly and concisely, utilizing the right tone and body language, and being aware of cultural variations, verbal communication can be improved. It can also benefit from observing body language, facial expressions, gestures, keeping eye contact, and observing adequate personal space.

Understanding one's own biases and preconceptions, as well as developing empathy and understanding for others, are crucial for improving communication. It's essential to establish trust and rapport with the individual or audience, since this fosters an environment that is conducive to good communication.

For better communication, self-reflection and constant learning are both consequential. Both verbal and non-verbal communication skills can be improved by getting feedback from others, attending workshops, or training sessions, and practicing communication in a variety of settings.

Always keep in mind that effective communication is a two-way process that calls for involvement and comprehension from both the speaker and the listener. One can become a more successful communicator and promote better relationships with others by putting these strategies into practice and continually working to get better.

Master's student, Advanced Quantum and Nanophotonic Systems