COMMUNICATING THE HELPA WAY. A QUICK GUIDE FOR ATHLETES, PERFORMERS, AND PROFESSIONALS
The ability to communicate effectively is essential to our success. Communication is complex, particularly in today's globalizing, multicultural, technological world, and developing communication skills can help an individual lead a more productive and satisfying life. This article is a short guide to assist in advancing interpersonal communication strategies.
Communication refers to the ability of people to send, receive, and interpret messages. It is a psych-social skill and importantly reflects the ability to relate to others. The process of communication has a direct impact on thoughts and feelings, and ensuing actions and behaviors.
Communication can be broken down into two primary categories: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication includes spoken language, dictation of specific information and instructions, feedback, encouragement, etc. Non-verbal communication includes behavioral gestures, hand signals, bodily expressions, and demonstration.
In both cases, it is important to think about the messages we want to send to others, and also consider how to receive messages from others. Words can be impulsively blurted out and carefully chosen. Similarly, body language can advertently or inadvertently display thoughts and feelings. Creating intention in the practice of communication is one of the most powerful skills one can build. The HELPA acronym can be used to create positive communication strategies and navigate your social interactions by communicating more intentionally.
Help - Helpful communication offers direct instructions and specific information to empower others. Use helping commands and instructions to assist others to achieve goals. The tone of these commands can be vital to the listener's interpretations, especially in high pressure and time-constrained circumstances. Use language and tone that makes it clear the message is being passed for performance reasons, and not criticism. Helpful communication may also include giving someone else a voice and the opportunity to be heard.
Encourage - Encouragement can have an impact on the motivation of the listener, and it can intensify effort and empower confidence. Encouragement helps to increase the listener's belief in themselves and their ability to add value. When a person is encouraged they often show increased focus and self-control. Encouragement is vital in team settings. Depending on the group task, encouragement can be focused on specific performance-enhancing behavior. Encouragement can be used fluidly through a task, and often helps to direct the attention of the listener to things the speaker feels are important.
Listen - Listening offers a reciprocal aspect of communication which increases the chances of messages being shared productively. Communication is an interplay between parties sending AND receiving messages. Listening skills require attention, hearing ability, and interpretation skills. Giving attention and staying concentrated shows the speaker that you value them and their message. That means giving the person full, undivided attention. Body language can also reveal a lot about a listener and what effect the message is having on them. Interpreting messages is an even bigger challenge, and it requires a readiness to receive the message. Readiness may require asking for clarification, and being emotionally prepared to handle and respond to difficult information.
Praise - Praise, while similar to encouragement, is usually tied to a specific event. It is a way of giving feedback about something that just happened. Praise also has important effects on motivation and confidence, and it offers a concrete form of positive feedback. Praise can enhance feelings of team cohesion and social belonging by making people feel that their actions and their role are valued by the group. Consistent praise can be an important quality to foster relationships and create an inclusive climate. Be careful not to exaggerate, as excessive praise can disengage the listener.
Acknowledge (Accept) - Acknowledgement, like listening, is more of a receiving skill. It often entails some non-verbal communication which is reflective of the efforts and intentions of other people. Understanding another's point of view and respecting and appreciating their opinions is part of working together and communicating effectively. Messages are not all transmitted in positive, respectful ways, yet it is possible to acknowledge and accept the nature of information being communicated. Accepting another's momentary frustration, language, or tone as being due to the situation rather than being a personal attack leaves a person in a more appropriate mental state to interpret the incoming information and respond appropriately.
In conclusion, communication is key to the functioning of individuals within social environments. Approaching interpersonal communication intentionally can help to pass messages more efficiently and effectively. Verbal and non-verbal communication are forms of human expression, and the ability to send, receive, and interpret that information can have a profound impact on group functioning. Positive, future-focused communication tends to be more impactful than negative, past-dwelling communication strategies. Emphasis on having a healthy balance between sending and receiving messages can ensure everyone is being heard, and that miscommunication happens less often.