Trainee counsellors or psychologists who develop their communication skills develop their own self-awareness.
This is because developing communication skills requires taking a look at your present communication style and being brutally honest with what currently works and what needs improvement. Communication skills are grouped as:
1-Hearing verbal messages –
These messages are the apparent and underlying cognitive and affective content of the person’s statements.
2-Perceiving nonverbal messages –
are sent via body language, vocal tone, facial expression, and other cues that accompany verbal messages. The emotion the sender is experiencing can be picked up at this level so that empathy can be conveyed. Perceiving the non-verbal messages can also assist the trainee recognise inconsistencies between verbal and non- verbal messages.
Immediate genuine, empathic reaction is required for verbal and nonverbal messages. The response should consider apparent and underlying content of messages and perceived non-verbal messages.
4-Verbal and Non-verbal Communication
Verbal communication involves the use of words spoken or written. Even a person who thinks they are not communicating can be sending messages. Non-verbal communication involves other signals or messages – pictures, music, body language (the way the body moves or is held, gestures, facial expression, eye contact etc.). Many communication experts assign greater importance to non-verbal communication in ordinary conversation, than what they assign to verbal communication. Albert Mehrabian suggests in his book Communication Without Words, the following breakdown of impact in a normal conversation:
- 7% verbal (i.e.: From what you say)
- 25% vocal (i.e.: From how you say it)
- 68% facial (i.e.: From the way you move
- your eyes, raise the eyebrows, smile or frown etc).
Other non-verbal elements of communication can include behaviour, such as the distance you stand or sit from the other, whether and how you touch the other person, your actions before, during and after the communication. All these can be interpreted by the other person. For
instance, if your words do not seem to match your actions or body language, the message will be confusing, contradictory or simply inauthentic .
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