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What is Communication?

Hi everyone! My name is Olivia and I am a 4th-year student at The University of British Columbia. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Sam's communication workshop. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about the different ways to communicate.


How do we communicate?


Communication happens in a variety of ways and is different depending on who you're talking with and what situation you are in. In Sam’s workshop, we learned about the importance of communication, how to have engaging conversations, how to communicate in a written format, and, how to conduct an effective presentation.


Communication is essential to everyday life with family, friends, strangers, and in professional settings. Outwards presentation of ourselves and thoughts through clothing, actions, and body language are all part of communicating with others. At the same time, it's how we learn about others and their thoughts. While this may not be the most effective way of getting to know someone, it is how first impressions are created and they can have lasting effects.


Besides communicating face to face, it is also really common to communicate in a written format, such as through emails, memos, newsletters, text messages, etc. There are many ways in which these communications can be used and the content is dependent on who is receiving the message and what the situation is. For example, emails sent to your boss have to be much more professional than emails sent to a friend.


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Don’t try too hard


A key point that stood out to me from Sam’s discussion about attending events was that it's not necessary to ask the most interesting questions. The most effective way to make a good impression is to go up to the event speaker or other professionals at the event and just talk to them. You shouldn't try and show off or demonstrate that you’re smart because people will appreciate it more if you just have a normal interesting conversation. And at the end of the conversation, you can ask for their contact information.


It's also important to treat everybody with the same respect because you never know who could make an impact on your life. In Sam’s workshop, he told about an experience he had at an event where a couple of people disregarded having a conversation with him because they found out he was a professor and not an accountant. What they didn’t know was that Sam had many connections with accountants that he would have been happy to reach out to, if they had taken the time to talk with him.



Communication Tips


One tip from Sam that I found really helpful was how he stopped himself from using filler words such as “like”, “um” and “ah” while presenting. I have always been told not to use filler words, but I could never completely stop myself from unconsciously saying them in a presentation. Sam’s tip was to stop and take a breath when you finish saying a thought, which allows you to formulate your next phrase without adding in a filler word.


In contrast to communicating face to face, in written communication, it's generally harder to get humor, sarcasm, and jokes across. Without seeing facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language it is sometimes difficult to determine when something is sarcasm or a joke. Therefore, it's probably better to keep those out of written communications, especially if you’re writing to someone you don’t know very well.


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