Communication between mentors and VET institutions

Communication elements and transactions

The word "communication" is derived from Latin (communicare) in the sense of communicating, consulting, discussing. Through communication we exchange knowledge, information in experience, communicate, persuade, disseminate or control people who are different in one way or another. It is about processing information about mutual communication.

The communication process is a process of an exchange of information, (in-formare= something put into shape, design that can give shape to something, clarification, etc.) the Communication refers to a process of transmitting information for the purpose of mutual communication. Communication process is a continuous and dynamic inter-action between sender and a receiver, and it is affected by many variables.

 

Elements of communication

There are seven elements of communication process. They are as follows:

  1. Sender

The sender is a person who intends to convey a message with the intention of passing information and ideas to another person.

  1. Ideas, Information

This is the centrepiece of communication or the subject matter of the communication. This may be a thought, opinion, belief, view, feeling, orders, suggestion or advice.

  1. Encoding

To convey a message which is rather theoretical and intangible, the message should be conveyed in the form of symbols (words, pictures, actions, and so forth). Conversion of subject matter of the message into these symbols is the process of encoding.

  1. Communication channel

The sender chooses the channel for sending required information. The channels through which the information is transmitted may be either formal or informal

  1. Receiver

Receiver is the person for whom the message is meant for and who receives the message. This is the person who tries to understand the meaning of the received message.

  1. Decoding

Decoding is the process of converting the received message in a such a way so that the meaning is understandable to receiver.

  1. Feedback

Feedback represents the process of ensuring that the receiver has received the message, and more importantly that the receiver has understood the message in the same sense as the sender meant it.

 

Source: https://www.communicationtheory.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/shannon_weaver_model.jpg

 

Communication styles

We convey our messages through verbal and/or non-verbal communication. Whereas verbal communication is for expressing ideas, objective and subjective information, non-verbal communication should complement verbal communication. The function of non-verbal communication is to express feelings and expresses personality of the person communicating.

The elements of non-verbal communication are:

  • Paralinguistic elements: intonation, tone of voice
  • Body posture: kinaesthetic (movement and body posture) and proxemic (body distance or proximity)
  • Facial expressions

 

It is important that our messages are consistent or congruent. Consistency is the matching of a verbal statement and body language. This means that all communicative aspects such as words, intonation or body language are harmonized. In contrast, inconsistency means a mismatch between a verbal and non-verbal message.

 

Efficient communication skills

Active listening

Listening is an important skill and it has a major impact on the quality of our relationships. Active listening means to give the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message.

Active listening should include the following:

  • Be aware of the non-verbal
  • When listening express interest in the person speaking or the subject.
  • Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged.
  • Do not let your own personal filters, assumptions and beliefs distort what you hear.
  • Remember, that your role as a listener is to understand what is being said.
  • Try not to interrupt as it may frustrate the speaker and limit the full understanding of the message.
  • Ask open questions.

Asking questions

Asking the right question is at the heart of effective communications and information exchange.

A closed question usually receives a very short answer or single word. For example, »Do you understand? «. The answer is »Yes« or »No«.

Open questions on the other hand elicit longer answers. They usually begin with what, why, how. An open question asks the respondent for his or her feelings, opinion or knowledge.

For example, “What do you think of the subject?”, “Why do you find the subject interesting?”.

Open questions provide the environment for establishing rapport, relationship and encourages the other person to share his or her ideas, feelings and opinions.

 

Efficient conflict solving techniques

People respond differently to conflict, and the same individuals respond differently under different circumstances. Depending on the individual's general attitude to conflict, the individual's predominant style of response to a conflict depends. In addition, a specific response in a given situation is influenced by other factors such as: concrete circumstances, mood, relationship with another, and social environment.

Our dominant style of responding to conflict is related to the idea of ourselves, the other, and the idea of the world or our frame of reference. The latter is our picture of reality and shows how we relate to ourselves, others and the world. It is shaped through education and environmental influences and our experiences. Its function is to interpret and respond to reality based on a frame of reference.

There are five types of responses according to the importance of personal interest and the importance of the relationship.

These are:

  • Dominate (achieving goals is important, the relationship is not important). It is characterized by the assumption that one side wins and everyone else loses.
  • Collaborate (achieving goals and relationship are as equally important). A group may learn to allow each participant to contribute with the possibility of co-creating a shared solution that everyone can support.
  • Compromise (achieving goals and relationship are important, each party gives something up in order to achieve a compromise). The concept is that everyone gives up a little bit of what they want, and no one gets everything they want.
  • Withdrawal (achieving goals and relationship are not important). It means that the person is ignoring or withdrawing from the conflict. One chooses this method when the discomfort of confrontation exceeds the potential reward of resolution of the conflict.
  • Accommodate (achieving goals is less important than the relationship). Accommodating is a strategy where one party gives in to the wishes or demands of another.

Ways of giving feedback

Giving feedback is a conversational technique that serves to give or receive constructive feedback (verbal or non-verbal). Feedback aims to raise awareness of behaviours and correct them when needed. For feedback not to be offensive, it is necessary to follow the rules (sending ME messages, criticizing behaviours rather than the whole person, including positive elements, and so forth).

When giving feedback it is important to have in mind the following:

  • Be very specific

Feedback should be task-focused, crystal clear, and to the point. Specify specific behaviour, reaction,…

  • Immediate feedback

Give feedback immediately or in the short possible time after the situation you are giving feedback on. If left unsaid, the problems will only recur and may multiply by a domino effect.

  • Give feedback in private

Don’t ever criticize publicly. Even praise for some people is better delivered in a private, rather than being pointed out in a public arena.

  • End on a positive note

Helping someone to improve should always be the goal of constructive criticism and going back over past mistakes in your closing comments will leave them with a negative impression.

  • Focus on behaviour, not personality

Focus on their behaviours (what they do) rather than on their personality traits (what they’re like).