Effective communication skills are necessary for students to succeed in various phases in their academic juncture. For a classroom to have better student participation and contributions, communication is an important skill that needs to be developed among the students.
The education system depends on effective communication to ensure that the students are at the top of their field, which carries onto their professional life.
Furthermore, effective communication is important as it influences how students perceive their surroundings, boosts confidence and morale, and reduces stress.
As Bill Gates rightly put it,
I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.
How Does Effective Communication Help Students?
Here are six reasons why effective communication is an essential skill that can benefit students:
Students who can effectively interact with their classmates, teachers, friends, and family will demonstrate personal development. Personal growth involves improvement in character and a generally healthy outlook in life.
When you communicate with others, you get the opportunity to learn about the different cultures of your classmates. This helps open your mind to different opinions and allows you to develop your character.
All this helps a student learn new values and build trust and develop a more positive outlook on life.
The more you communicate, the more you learn.
Studying with classmates helps build healthy competition that drives you to do better in class and can motivate you to be more productive.
Additionally, when you build a rapport with someone, you gain knowledge about their cultural and social values, and you get the opportunity to talk about your own.
For example, many schools encourage pairing up or forming study groups during the school year. This is so that classmates can offer assistance, and these groups also help create an environment where you can freely voice your doubts without the fear of being judged.
Boosts Collaborative Skills
Communication and collaboration are interlinked, and any partnership cannot take place in the absence of communication.
Collaborative skills are fundamental as you will be required to communicate with and work with teams and other departments to complete projects and carry out tasks in the future.
For example, as a student, you will have to work together in pairs or groups to complete projects, give presentations or perform other activities such as debates and discussions.
By working in a team, you learn how to share thoughts and ideas, develop leadership qualities, and appreciate the effort of your teammates.
Effective communication works when the speaker can convey their message in a concise manner and the listener is able to actively listen and interpret the message.
When the speaker avoids using filler words, being ambiguous about their intent, and mumbling, they save time.
Likewise, when the listener pays attention to the message and makes sure that they have interpreted it, they reduce any chances for miscommunication.
For example, in a group discussion, if each student takes stating their opinions, and does not interrupt when another student is speaking, everyone gets to speak. As a result, they reach a consensus faster.
Communication helps build relationships, be it interacting with classmates or teachers.
You establish connections when you take the time to interact with others. This contributes to a friendly environment in the classroom which can also increase participation in any academic or social interaction.
For example, when you build relationships with your classmates, a healthy interaction occurs, and they feel comfortable stating their opinions. They also start looking forward to attending classes simply because they have someone they can converse with.
Effective communication makes the whole process of interacting easier. You will find that it will be easier to share problems and ask for help.
Overcoming obstacles together helps strengthen the bonds you have and promotes a sense of unity. It also becomes easier to approach other people when you need help and also helps you develop empathy.
For example, when facing a disagreement with a classmate, the ability to effectively communicate your issue across and find a solution together will help you.
How Does Miscommunication Between Students Occur?
Most times, a student lacks the confidence to communicate due to a speech impediment such as a stutter, or lack of fluency in the language.
They might also feel self-conscious about their voice pitch or how they might pronounce some things.
For example, a foreign exchange student might be conscious of their accent and might become conscious while approaching their classmates or teachers to ask questions.
When students face a hostile environment and receive negative responses in their personal or social settings, they tend to reduce contact and communication.
In an educational context, peer pressure, gender and racial discrimination, and inappropriate conduct can deter students from communicating with others.
Due to such situations, they might grow uncomfortable and find it meaningless to express their opinions.
For example, a student might find it hard to grasp a topic that their peers find easy. When this student expresses their difficulty, if the classmates and teachers dismiss the doubts or make fun of the student, they might refrain from participating in the future.
Assumptions mean making your interpretations of incomplete information. This builds distrust and sets boundaries that make it impossible for communication to happen. They also enforce toxic behavior and promote bias which leads to a negative mindset.
For example, suppose student X was the last one to leave the class, and student Y later found out that she was missing a pen. In that case, she might assume student X was the one to take it instead of simply approaching student X to get her side of the story.
Regardless of the result, student Y developed a negative opinion towards student X, which led to her accusing student X.
Perception filters are elements of experience that influence your cultural and environmental experiences. Your perception filter includes personal values and attitudes you have developed from your experience.
Most students fail to understand that each individual’s perception filter is different and unique, leading to conflicts in opinions.
These perception filters often lead to belittling others’ opinions or values by being biased and stereotyping others.
For example, while conversing with a classmate, they might not be comfortable making eye contact. You might perceive this as a negative response; however, a simple reason might be that the classmate finds it difficult to make eye contact.
Unless you communicate your issue to the classmate, you might come out of the interaction having a negative perception of the classmate.
There are various mediums through which communication occurs, like social media, oral or text messages, and phone calls. Choosing the type of medium affects the way information is perceived.
Some messages can get perceived negatively either due to noise that interferes with the transmission of a statement or the inappropriateness of the medium.
For example, delivering an apology in person is better; however, students might find sending an apology through text easier. This action might come across as insincere and might not solve the issue.
Lack of Clarity
Being ambiguous, not focusing on the point, and drawing out unnecessary interactions can lead to ineffective communication.
When you fail to convey your message concisely and transparently, the people around you may stop listening to what you have to say. As a result, you fail to get your point across.
For example, if a classmate missed a class and they come to ask student X about what they need to know for the next session, student X might go on a ramble and in the process, might fail to talk about an important announcement that was made during class.
Negative Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues
While communicating, when a person displays negative verbal cues such as using passive-aggressive tones or aggressive words and non-verbal negative cues such as aggressive hand gestures, fidgeting, and avoiding eye contact, this leads to tension and can elicit further negative behavior.
It also leads to a negative bias towards the person.
For example, while having a discussion, there might be one student who constantly interrupts the others and makes it difficult to express their thoughts.
This can lead to reduced participation and in the future, the other students might refrain from communicating with this student.
Read this detailed article on how exactly to avoid such scenarios: Ineffective Communication Explained: And How To Avoid It
6 Tips to Develop Effective Communication Skills in Students
Understand Perceptual Filters
The key to effective communication is to understand that people have different opinions, experiences, and cultures.
They draw and perceive information according to their perceptual filters, and the sooner you know that the easier it becomes to communicate.
You can start this by respecting others’ opinions and values even though they might disagree with yours.
For example, use sentences such as “I understand what you’re saying…”, “Could you explain how you came to that conclusion…”, “Is there a reason why you think….” etc.
Throughout life, you will face scenarios where conflict is unavoidable, so if you want to learn how to react in such situations, you can read this article.
There is a difference between actively listening and passively listening.
Passive listening is when the listener provides little to no feedback. This might be appropriate in some situations like watching a presentation or movie or listening to a seminar or speech; however, it might be inappropriate when you are in a conversation or a discussion.
Some examples of passive listening include multitasking like scrolling through your phone while listening to a teacher, listening only to parts of a message, and refraining from engaging with the other person unless stimulated to do so.
Effective communication requires you to listen to the speaker actively. You could do this by maintaining eye contact, leaning forward, nodding along, and using sentences such as “hmm,” “I understand,” “ok…” etc.
Actively communicating requires the listener to respond from time to time to show the speaker that their opinions are being heard.
Julian Treasure explains 5 simple techniques on how to becomes a better listener in this video.
Before responding to a statement, take the time to think about it.
Silence can help you listen better to what is being said and can also help you realize when to speak up and when not to.
Of course, the type of silence I’m talking about is positive silence.
For example, in a scenario where someone asks you about your opinion on a rumor, the best way is to keep silent. Similarly, in an argument, keeping silent will help you defuse the situation instead of further fanning the flame.
When communicating, remember to ask questions. This shows that you are paying attention to what they are saying.
It also helps you gain more details to get a better understanding of a situation. Asking questions further encourages the speaker to communicate and can even strengthen your relationship with the speaker.
If you’re interested in learning how to frame your questions check out this article that explains how to frame questions that promote effective communication in different settings.
Give Positive Feedback
A simple compliment can go a long way.
Appreciating and recognizing someone’s efforts shows that you value them and their contribution. It can also boost confidence and help in creating a more productive environment.
Of course, positive feedback does not mean you should only compliment the speaker. Positive feedback also includes constructive criticism.
Contributing constructive criticism shows that you have been attentive and also encourages them to work on their skills.
Students thrive on feedback. They learn by making mistakes but also improve by receiving criticism and feedback.
Activities That can Foster Communication Between Students
After-school activities can also build connections with students outside their class. They learn from other club members, share experiences with them, and help them achieve a sense of belonging.
These activities help students find those that share a passion with them and thus make it easier for them to establish a rapport.
Schools provide clubs for various activities such as writing, art, drama, etc.
In addition to this, various indoor and outdoor sports such as table tennis, carrom, football, volleyball, rugby, etc., are also activities that promote teamwork, communication, and unity.
To join these clubs, a student can approach their class representative, teacher-in-charge, or student council.
There are several activities that teachers can arrange within the class. These activities do not have to contribute to their academic curriculum since the main aim is to create a comfortable environment that promotes communication
Games are a fun way to wind down and build a healthy sense of competition. Here are a few activities that every student can participate in:
A simple game where students act out a given phrase, movie, book, or actor that the opposite team chooses. This game can be used to show the importance of non-verbal expressions and actions in communication.
This game is all about testing the existing vocabulary of the participant and also is a great way to improve their language skills which are necessary for effective communication. The participant is given a word and they have to come up with an associated word or phrase.
The game helps improve memory and is a fun way to teach the students about the importance of concentrating while someone else is speaking. Students sit in a circle and have to recall what the students before them have said.
Other classroom activities that can be used to help develop effective communication skills in students include conducting debates, and quizzes.
These activities teach students how to be concise while communicating and also help them develop public speaking skills which are essential for effective communication.
In addition to this, if you are a teacher looking for some more fun games and exercises to improve communication in the classroom, read this article that contains ideas for all students from all age groups.
Establishing a safe place that will allow students to interact and express opinions without being judged will encourage students to communicate more.
Students who recognize the importance of practical communication skills can build strong bonds and develop a positive outlook on life.