The ability to communicate clearly, effectively and respectfully is one of the most important life skills. How we communicate with others is important as it reflects our attitude. Be it interacting with an individual or in a group, we need to be mindful of the words we choose whenever we communicate as it is the attitude that we are displaying to the listener(s).
The nuances of language can make all the difference and we all use the language in a variety of occasions to express ourselves. Of course, the choice of words does value our presence be it simply sharing our views or strongly emphasizing our opinions. It is all the more important to maintain a tone that is not derogatory and suits everyone around, especially in a group.
But in the recent times, youngsters, especially the students, tend to overlook the importance of communicating respectfully. Many senior people are taken aback by their choice of words of the youngsters while communicating. While most of the seniors, will accept without doubt that SMS has indeed affected the English language by shrinking many words and inventing new spellings, the same cannot be said while interacting with a person. But, in the recent times I find students tending to be disrespectful, especially while communicating with teachers/seniors, with their choice of words. Though it may not be intentional, on many occasions they let go the formalities to address someone with due respect and are comfortable in addressing informally as if they are talking to their friends.
Everyone talk in a variety of informal ways depending upon the situation, position and the need for a conversation. One can use the terms such as “guys” and “dudes” while speaking with friends and peers. Some may even liberally sprinkle the sentences with “da” to indicate friendship and closeness. Lot of people has the habit of suffix their conversations with words like “yaar”. Such forms of address are completely acceptable in informal contexts. It is a normal practice for students to speak more colloquial words and modern youths come up with different analogy to express a particular act. All these are fine when interacting within a specified group.
These trends begin to cultivate right from the school level. More so, for the majority of the students, this mode of informal conversation dominates their speech. But, over a period these verbal communication style becomes a habit and the students suffer to express themselves freely with respect.
Of course, some institutions strictly insist the students on maintaining discipline and respect in addressing or interacting with teachers and administrators. But, the students miserably fail to cultivate the habit. As they grow up, the gap literally narrows down and these people are quite comfortable with their choice of words.
Furthermore, with many multinationals virtually encouraging informal communications, especially when speaking with higher-ups, the traditional way of addressing with a prefix, “Sir” or “Madam” has become passé. There is also a chunk of young professionals who argues that that respect does not lie in addressing someone formally.
Effective communications is a combination of the right choice of the words, tone and attitude. Thus, in addition to the choice of the words one uses, it is all the more important to maintain a cordial tone so that the listeners understand the messages in the right sense. Otherwise there is every possibility that the message might be interpreted and might also affect the receiver as well as boomerang to the sender.
Also, it is always better to be more formal and also being respectful than being accused of being seen as excessive informality. So, it is better to address teachers or seniors with prefixes such as “Mr”, “Ms” “Dr” or “Professor”, unless they specifically ask you to address them differently.
As the boundaries of respect begin to dissolve, still we old timers believe strongly that the language a person uses while communicating with other, however trivial the matter is, is bound to make an impact on the listener(s). So the youngsters have to be more careful and doubly think what words one should use before opening up or joining the conversation in a group.
- M D Sridharan