Communication is the act of using words, sounds, signs or behaviors to express information or our ideas, thoughts or feelings to someone else.
It could be also a message that is given to someone like a letter or telephone call.
The different categories of communication include:
- spoken or verbal communication: face-to-face, telephone, radio, television or other media
- non-verbal communication: body language, gestures, how we dress or act
- written communication: letters, e-mails, books magazines, Internet
- visualizations: graphs and charts, maps, logos.
There are four different levels of communication, each other with its own context and end.
- The first level of communication is the social level. This is where we talk about weather, sports, news and other things we care about. It is a superficial communication, but incredibly useful. It allows us to function among strangers and make potential friends.
- The second level of communication is the mental level. We talk about ideas, facts, plans, strategies or tips.
- The difference between the first two levels of communication is relatively narrow. A polite conversation can turn into a mentally stimulating conversation very quickly and it can turn back again to polite conversation.
- The third level is the emotional level. This is the level in which we talk about our wants, needs, aspirations, fears and joys. It is full of trust, intimacy, vulnerability and transparency. A lot of people are afraid of being rejected, hurt or scared in this level. The emotional level is the foundation upon which relationships, families, teams and societies are built.
- The fourth level of communication is the spiritual level. This is the hardest one to talk about. Our scientific knowledge fails in giving us an explanation of it. Communication at these deeper levels takes time, trust and intention.
A few centuries ago people could only speak to each other or could send their messages from one place to another by smoke signals for example. Later was the press invented.
Newspapers are the oldest kind of communication.
First expansion of media became with radio and television. Radio is the second oldest kind of media.
Television is the media with a big strength. There are thousands of programs (news, children´s programs, history, nature…). One of the disadvantages of using television could be a lot of advertisments.
The Internet is probably the main mean of communication nowadays. It is fast, world-wide and there are millions of information. We can read news, listen to radio and watch movies there.
Almost all conflicts involve communication problems. Misunderstandings, resulting from poor communication, can cause a conflict.
Speakers are often not clear themselves about what they mean, so what they say. If their cultures are different, it is easy for the same statement to mean one thing to one person and something different to someone from another culture.
Listeners are also sources of communication problems. People often fail to listen carefully. When people are in conflict, they often concentrate more on what they are going to say than listening to their opponents´ words with full attention.
Third parties of communication can make it better. Skilled third parties can help speakers clarify what they are saying and they can help listeners hear what is really meant.
But there are also unskilled third parties which can make matters worse.
Books are very important for improving our communication skills but they are quite expensive so the best option for most people is to go to the library. Libraries have wide customer service in these days. You can borrow books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, e-readers and more there. You can use their reservation system or the Internet for free or very low fee. They also organize many culture events and discussions.
It is necessary to have librarians who are able to combine a knowledge and passion for books with interpersonal communication skills and computer literacy to run an effective library.