Communication completes our existence. Being able to execute the five macro skills of language (reading, speaking, viewing, writing, and listening) is truly a bliss because this could enrich the communication we have with every human being. In the same manner, this could augment our knowledge about ourselves, the world, and beyond.
It is our natural instinct to get invigorated every time we express ourselves through verbal or non-verbal languages. However, it could also be a double-edged sword if communication was misdelivered or misunderstood. Indeed, communication is not just a necessity but it is also a responsibility as we have to be mindful of the messages we are sending to and receiving from other people (be it in the form of spoken, written, body movements, facial expressions, and the like).
The importance of communication even heightens up because of the proliferation of different social media platforms and application software. All the more, this pandemic limits our physical interaction and puts us all inside the digital world. This poses a much greater responsibility for all of us – to learn and observe sustainable communication strategies (SCSs) in the five macro skills. SCSs refer to the different approaches that can engage people and nurture their relationship which is grounded on integrity. Ergo, it is crucial to assess our communication strategies through the 3 Vs - vocabulary, verbosity, and values.
One of the basic and best ways to sustain the art of communication is through word choice. Words are the building blocks of every phrase and sentence. Being the second smallest unit of language, it could be considered as a tiny but mighty language component. As Stahl (2005) stated, “Vocabulary knowledge is knowledge; the knowledge of a word not only implies a definition, but also implies how that word fits into the world” (p. 22).
Vocabulary knowledge gives an individual the liberty to choose the proper words at a particular time and situation; hence, it is the foundation of self-confidence. Moreover, learning one word a day by using it in daily conversations is a good mind exercise. However, it is observed that in most countries where English is a second language (ESL) or English as a lingua franca (ELF), learning vocabularies is trivialized. Many people are often settled on using common or ordinary words and they hesitate using words that may seem unfamiliar with others due to the perceptions that people may not understand them or they may make fun of them. They forget that words exist in clusters and they are understood through their contexts. In fact, even some language practitioners are incognizant of the power of vocabulary enrichment. Most of them only investigated and presented the strong relationship of vocabulary growth to reading comprehension, when in actuality, vocabulary improvement is strongly correlated with the five macro skills. We should always remember that “lacking either adequate word identification skills or adequate vocabulary will ensure failure” (Biemiller, 2005) to comprehend communication or to achieve fruitful interaction. Hence, to make our word choice sustainable, remember to practice CED:
Verbosity is another crucial element that must be assessed to ensure that communication strategy is sustainable. Verbosity refers to verbal or written text that consists of too many words. We have to be mindful that the ultimate objective of communication is to achieve efficiency and simplicity. As Albert Einstein once said:
Brevity is the opposite of verbosity. Skillful writers and speakers know the importance of brevity as it “is the soul of wit” (Cyr, 2017, p. A46). However, we should also regard that brevity is not all about reducing words but it is being precise. Brevity refers to succinct ideas. The impact as one synthesizes the ideas must not be lessened at all, but instead it even creates a more powerful and forthright effect as shown in the examples below.
Sometimes, verbosity makes the writers forget their real objectives that misleads their readers. In the second set of example below, the writers were tasked to write two sentences that state an existing societal problem and propose three solutions. Nonetheless, the novice writers used too much details that hindered the readers to better understand the message of the sentences; whereas, it could be in a more direct and clearer way.
Some neuroscientists said that humans can best craft memorable experiences through focusing on only three chunks of information. In order to make sure that the ideas are expressed with precision and substance, the rule of three is suggested. This communication principle is observed by many famous orators, writers, and gurus like Steve Jobs.
I would like to start this section with one of my favorite quotations.
May this quote remind us that animals can be teachable, too. But what sets us apart from them is the value of choosing what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. We are gifted with intelligence that words have the power to hurt or heal. Hence, we have to utilize language to make this world a much better place.
All remarkable writers and outstanding speakers around the world emphasized the importance of humility, practice, and continuous learning. From their wise words, we can start serving our purpose by continuously enhancing our five macro skills. If we really want to be great and to achieve sustainable communication strategies, we should always remember values. Values refer to moral correctness or ethics in doing or saying things. People with values are HAAPI.
By being a forever learner, thoughtful, truthful, considerate, and honorable with our words and actions are the keys we need to be effective communicators. Only then can we successfully attain sustainable communication strategies.
Let's all be HAAPI!
Share with us your haapiness towards sustainable communication strategies.
Biemiller, A. (2005). Size and sequence in vocabulary development: Implications for choosing words for primary grade vocabulary instruction. In E. H. Hiebert and M. L. Kamil (Eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice (pp. 223–242). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. PsycINFO database.
Cyr, N. E. (2017). “Brevity is the soul of wit”: Use of a stepwise project to teach concise scientific writing. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 16 (1), p. A46-A51.
Stahl, S. (2005). Four problems with teaching word meanings (and what to do to make vocabulary an integral part of instruction). In E. H. Hiebert and M. L. Kamil (Eds.), Teaching and learning vocabulary: Bringing research to practice (pp. 95–114). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. PsycINFO database.