Communication Skills and Personal Development

Different scholars have proffered various definitions to describe communication. However, for the purpose of this essay, we will make do with Hybels’ and Weaver’s (2001:6) proposition that “Communication is any process in which people share information, ideas and feelings. It involves not only the spoken and written word but also body language, personal mannerisms, and style – anything that adds meaning to a message”.

Going ahead to stress the importance of communication in daily existence, they also say that:

It is vital in all areas of life. You use it to persuade; to influence relationships, to inform and to share, to discover and uncover information… Communication, and how to communicate, is so important to daily life that it spawned [sic] an entire industry of books, articles, and seminar explaining how to do it better.

To live…is to communicate. To communicate effectively is to enjoy life more (2001:5-6).

Communication Skills

There are a number of skills involved in the art of communicating. Beck, Bennet and Wall (2002:125) highlight a general list of communication skills as:

  • Speaking, listening, empathizing
  • Reading and observing
  • Identifying and using sources of information
  • Planning and structuring a presentation
  • Oral presentation skills
  • Dealing with questions
  • Reviewing own performance
  • Using IT to communicate

However, in this discourse, we shall focus only on the four major communication skills, which are also known as the four language arts. They are:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading, and
  • Writing

What is Personal Development?

We cannot attempt a definition of the term Personal Development without first taking a look at the keyword “development”. So what is development? Adesanoye (1995:4) citing Mabogunje, describes development as ‘a many-sided process. At the level of the individual, it implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being’.

Taking a cue from this, we can then define personal development as a conscious, disciplined and sustained series of investment in the self through the acquisition of knowledge and skills, as well as applying the acquired knowledge and skills for enhanced lifestyle.

Areas of Personal Development

The development of the self is as composite an entity as the nature of man himself. It consists of various interdependent forms of human, which all work together to produce a better person when cultivated, or result in a debased existence when ignored. These different aspects of man that need cultivation for development are his:

  • Spiritual state
  • Mental state
  • Emotional state
  • Physical state
  • Social status, and his
  • Profession or vocation

Before we go ahead to consider how communication skills can be used to develop these different aspects of man, it will be appropriate to examine them briefly.

The Spiritual State of Man

Man is a tripartite being. He is mainly made up of a spirit, a soul, and a body. The spiritual side of man has to do with the state of his spirit in relation to God, his Maker. However, it is appropriate to state at this point that due to my subscription to the Christian faith, all my discourse on the spiritual state of man will be treated from the Christian perspective and the Christian scriptures, the Holy Bible.

The Mental State of Man

The Mental state of man is one of the two components of his soul. The soul, which is said to be the real man, comprises the mental faculty and the emotions. The mental faculty involves the mind (thoughts bank) as well as the intellectual state of man.

The Emotional State of Man

This is the second side of man’s soul. The emotion, according to Hargie (1997:38) has three main components; “the direct conscious experiences or feeling of emotion, the physiological processes that accompany emotions, and the observable behavioural actions used to express emotion”. In simple terms, emotion comprises the feelings and desires of man in their expressed and unexpressed form.

Babatunde is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the Executive Director of Literary Renaissance Foundationan initiative working towards reviving a reading culture and campaigning against the devaluation of intelligence in Nigeria and Africa.

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