Communication, in terms of its quality, is the key to the sustenance of any relationship. The starting point of any affiliation is communication, and its worth determines where the association is heading towards. Communication essentially implies the transmission of sound waves from “sender” to “receiver”. However, the problem lies in its process of journey.
While the sender may have a specific intent to convey; there could be several “noises” in between, making its meaning foggy. The receiver might like to interpret it the way he/she wants to, and at the end of the cycle, the “ultimate meaning” of the message sent could be totally different from what was originally intended.
The original innocent message from daughter-in-law to mother-in-law, “Ice cream is not good for your health considering your diabetic stage,” was the original innocent message; there were several noises on the way, and finally mother-in-law interpreted that the daughter-in-law did not want to give her the ice cream and that diabetes was only a “pretext”. Thus, the whole relationship is affected. This type of serious distortion in communication has a long-term impact on disturbing the essence of relationships and peace in the family.
Thus, the elderly should always understand the basic nuances of communication; ideal principles for conveying any message are that noises are kept to a minimum and the message reaches the receiver with original intent. While it is important for all in a family/society, it is possibly more applicable for an elderly person as he/she has often been found to be on the receiving end.
Three (3) Cardinal Principles of an Ideal Communication:
Any communication has three (3) fundamental aspects:
What: This is the content part of it, or what is being said. One needs to think twice before saying anything as a message. Sometimes, we speak without much thinking about what it may mean to the receiver, and that could be a disaster. The language of communication, including in every world, should be judicious and appropriate.
How: This part of communication is equally important. Communication is not only “what is being spoken” but also “how it is being conveyed”. If it offends the recipient in any manner or misunderstood, the very purpose of communication is lost. Good manners will be drowned in the drudgery of bad manners. Therefore, it is always said that communication is a skill and one needs to master it to make it effective and have the right impact.
Where & When: The timing and place of communication is also very important. A message delivered at the wrong place and time may have a demoralizing effect. A classic example is taught in good management principles that one should not point out the weaknesses of others in public. “Praise in public” and “rebuke in person” are the golden principles of good communication.
Five (5) things one must know in a good communication strategy:
The above three (3) basic nuances of communication may not be adequate to make one a good communicator. There are five (5) major points one should keep in mind to be a good communicator. These are called the “golden principles” of good communication strategy.
Understanding of the other: This is what is called “empathy.” Since we are communicating with another human being who is also full of emotions, we must understand his side/emotions before communicating anything.
Language of communication: Language is often found to be one of the major barriers in communication. Communication should, therefore, to the extent possible, be done in a language which is clearly understood by the recipient so that it can be decoded and interpreted clearly.
Ego state of sender: In order to ensure that communication is effective, it must be made only from the “matured (adult)” ego state of the sender. Under no circumstances, it should be from the “parent (dominating)” or “child (demanding)” ego state of the sender.
Listening skills: Communication is a two-way process. To make it successful, the sender should also allow the other person (receiver) to speak. Listening skills, therefore, become crucial for the success of any communication process.
Body language: The positive body language of the sender always helps in the process of good communication. Jokes, lighter moments add to the quality of communication.
Importance for the elders and way forward:
While communication is crucial at all stages of life and also in all places, whether personal or professional, for seniors it is more important as communication from seniors makes or marries the relationship. These principles become crucial when an elderly person is interacting with children, grandchildren, or other family members regarding family matters or disputes. We, as elders, should show the way of the right communication strategy to others; this will help them to reciprocate. Many problems in relationships happen because of a breakdown in communication. Hence, the right communication philosophy and practices might make our lives better.