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Barriers to communication

Communication barriers stop you from expressing your viewpoint in classrooms or boardrooms. Pinpoint your difficulty and start working towards effective contribution to a discussion.


THERE ARE three kinds of people in this world. One kind makes things happen, the other watches it happen, the third wonders what happened! These three categories are very evident during group discussions or while debating a topic.

It is very common to have a handful of participants in every meeting who are very silent and appear too shy to participate or express their views.

This is sure to strike a memory chord in you where you remember instances where you have been very quiet during group activities and you have been uncomfortable with your own silence wondering how you can break out of it.

This scenario is played out constantly from classrooms to boardrooms, where students and executives are timid to express their viewpoints.

The reason could be any of the following. Try to pinpoint what your barrier is, so that you can actively start working on the problem:

You don't have an opinion on the subject.

You are so overwhelmed by the rank and seniority of the people around you that you do not think it is appropriate to voice an opinion in such august presence or feel that speaking up would be deemed a sign of disrespect or an upstart behaviour.

You have an opinion, but are secretly worried about what the others might say or think. Would they consider it irrelevant, superfluous, not clearly thought through, be amused, too controversial? The list of self-doubt goes on.

You have an opinion, but don't feel confident that you can say exactly what you mean.

You have firm opinion, but cannot state it in the same eloquent manner that you are capable of in the native language.

You feel intimidated by more active participants who are confident in their opinions and express them so eloquently making you feel tongue tied and miserable.

If you feel that your mind is blank and you have nothing to say -- that is worrisome. People without an opinion are the group that watch or wonder. The watching group, at least, might understand and follow the proceedings.

The wondering group remain clueless as to what is going on around them thus eliminating themselves completely from the proceedings.

Neither position is desirable or comfortable. But the good news is that this can be rectified by the individual taking the initiative of becoming more well read, being aware of world around them, perking up their interest and curiosity, and developing their critical thinking patterns.

If you are worried to say anything because your are anxious to make the right impression all the time, you must realise that unless some risks are taken and you make the effort speak up, you will soon be marginalised. Of course the caveat here is that you think before you speak and at the appropriate juncture.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the seniority of people around you by rank or age, remember that everyone has a right to their opinion - yours is as valid as theirs.

Your mental block, may be is denying others a fresh approach to the topic with new or innovative options. When people are sitting around the table, it is everyone's responsibility to contribute, discuss and infuse fresh ideas, new angles. Remember that you were asked to join because they wanted your input and not just to fill a seat.

Ultimately, think of the issue being discussed, prepare yourself (internet, books, newspapers and so on) and be focused on it.

This way you move yourself away from watching and wondering to a participant who contributes and makes a difference. Isn't that worth your time and effort?

CHITRA DANGER

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