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Effective face-to-face communication involves a clear delivery of a message from one person, and appropriate and correct receipt and interpretation of the message by a second person, according to the University of Maine. Aspects like tone, word choice, body language, eye contact and attentiveness can influence whether this type of communication is effective enough to create meaningful dialogue between the two people, or whether it leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings.
The University of Maine defines effective communication as clear expression of ideas in a manner and tone that can be easily and correctly interpreted by another party. According to the University of Colorado's Conflict Research Consortium, communication is always a two-way process, involving a messenger and a recipient.
The Conflict Research Consortium notes that body language is an influential factor in face-to-face communication because a person's demeanor can greatly influence how the recipient interprets the message. When an individual speaks in an even tone with direct eye contact, and a friendly facial expression, the message is likely to be received as positive or at least neutral. Body language that communicates negative feelings, such as crossed arms, lack of eye contact, clenched fists and a serious expression, is likely to be interpreted in that context.
According to the Conflict Research Consortium, active listening is a method of attending to conversation that helps people process messages in a focused manner, and respond to the speaker in a way that encourages and furthers communication. This method allows a recipient of information to remain engaged, indicate understanding, and clarify any points, without interjecting his opinion or arguing points. Active listening involves eye contact, open body language, and, often, the recipient of information reframes what he has heard to confirm understanding.
Assertive and Accurate Expression
According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, assertive communication skills are also key to creating an effective dialogue. Assertive expression is rooted in being able to speak from the first person. Using "I" statements enables a speaker to be clear about his opinions. The speaker becomes responsible for expressing his point of view, as opposed to commenting on the other party's ideas or opinions. This allows expression without the sense of an offensive or aggressive exchange.
Experts at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Conflict Research Consortium note that effective dialogue is a two-way method of communication. It's important for both parties to assess how they are expressing ideas, and how they are receiving them. The process of communication becomes both more respectful and clearer when both parties focus on sending clear messages and using active listening skills.
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Christy Bowles has 15 years of experience in the field of education, with 10 years working in mental health and wellness. She specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety and substance abuse, with a focus on alternative treatment modalities. Bowles holds a Master of Education from Harvard University.
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