A major component of the life of an athlete is effective communication with his or her colleagues (Pedersen, Miloch, Laucella, 2007, p. 123). Communication plays a significant role in the daily life of every person since it either fuel or retard conflicts. As much as every person is endowed with the natural communication skills, some people communicate more effectively than others do.
Interpersonal communication is effected when there is transfer of information and thoughts from one person to the other in which a sender passes on an idea to the receiver. However, it is important to note that effective interpersonal communication in athletic organizations occurs only when there is mutual understanding between the parties involved.
Since misunderstanding between people is a fact of everyday life, effective interpersonal communication is important in avoiding conflicts between people in the athletic organizations, especially when the players are coming from different backgrounds like the case of the Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Men’s Tennis Team.
When an organization is composed of people of different races, ethnic backgrounds, gender, or religious affiliation, these aspects usually pervade most contemporary conversations. That is why in most athletic organizations, effective communication mainly centers on the core principles of competency and civility.
Competency in speech implies that the dialogue becomes both appropriate and effective by communicating with thoughtfulness, knowledge, and skills (West & Tumer, 2006).In athletic organizations having players from all over the world, communication is employed appropriately in realizing the cultural expectations of communicating by establishing certain common laws, understanding the roles of everyone, and being “others-centered.”
Therefore, interpersonal communication becomes meaningful and each communication realizes the intended purpose when the individuals engaging in an exchange are competent. A competent interpersonal communicator usually has a large repertoire of skills and he or she is able to apply them effectively in order to avoid any conflicts.
The second principle in effective interpersonal communication in the athletic organizations appertains to civility. This principle requires utmost sensitivity to the experiences of the partner in conversation by accepting that the other individual is an equal partner in the process of communication.
Civil conversation involves recognizing various viewpoints of a situation, refraining from harming others by the use of hate speech, and a person speaking for him or herself (speaking in the “I” or “I” statements). Most coaches in athletic organizations usually tell their players not to assume that they have the same views with their colleagues when conversing; therefore, conversations should not imply that their statements are in agreement with everyone else.
A number of barriers can impair effective interpersonal communication in the athletic organizations. Some people hold the simplistic view that communication is not a difficult task; however, at times it becomes complex and upsetting due to the barriers that may be present on the way.
The first barrier, which detaches the players from one another, usually comes due to physical barriers. These may include, but not limited to, designated places in which only some players are allowed to enter, closed office doors, or setting up of barriers. One of the important elements in establishing cohesive teams is proximity. When players are close to one another, they are able to communicate much easier and more effectively with one another.
Secondly, effective communication can be impaired by bypassing which takes place when communicators miss one another with the meaning of their words.
For instance, when a coach instructs one of his players to “help” him with some addresses of other teams in the tournament, but when the player starts to accomplish the task, he discovers that he has to do a lot of research by himself in order to “help” his coach. In this instance, the two individuals had different meanings of the word help.
Bypassing can be a major impairment to interpersonal communication because individuals usually assume that meanings are hidden in words, while, in reality, meanings are hidden in people. Therefore, effective communication implies that both the sender and the recipient should have the same meanings to the words per se.
Another obstacle to effective interpersonal interactions relates to the disparities in the frame of references of international athletes. Everything that is taking place around an individual is inferred in his or her frame of reference; therefore, everyone’s unique frame comes from a complex blend of education, culture, expectations, personal traits, and other attributes.
This implies that each individual brings his or her biases and expectations to every conversation situation. In international athletic organizations, this hindrance is most predominant in situations whereby there is marked disparity in the frame of reference among the athletes, which makes them to see situations at different angles. To avoid miscommunication due to this obstacle, athletes are always advised to take care of each one’s frames of reference when communicating.
Finally, lack of language skills can be an obstacle to clear interpersonal interactions among international players of various backgrounds. In spite of how extraordinary the idea to be communicated might be, it is at times not easy to convey the message effectively in a situation in which the participants have insufficient language skills.
In order to shun possible miscommunication in athletic organizations, every player needs to have adequate vocabulary, a basic command of punctuation and grammar, and proficiency in written and oral messages. Furthermore, effective communication in the athletic organizations can be impeded due to distractions.
These may come due to emotional interferences, physical distractions, or digital distractions. Emotional distractions are due to feelings of happiness, bitterness, aggressiveness, worry, and physical distractions are due to faulty acoustics or noisy environment. To limit distractions that can lead to miscommunication, both the sender and the recipient ought to center on the content of the information being conveyed and strive to shut out all possible distractions (Rosenberg, 2003).
In an international athlete’s team, words have the power to create and affect attitudes, behavior, and even perception of the team members (Siegel, 2007). Therefore, the correct use of words is of essence for sustaining the various relationships existing within the team. Since international teams usually have people from all lifestyles, incorrect use of even a single word is able to hinder interpersonal interactions since this can create different perceptions to different people.
That is why most coaches instruct their teams on some basic guidelines for effective interpersonal communication. The athletes are usually advised to avoid using words that can portray different meanings to either the sender or the recipient, use conversant words that are easily understood by everyone in the team, avoid adding non-essential or very different information when communicating, and provide information in a reasonable and organized way.
These general guidelines ensure that coaches are able to cope better with international student athletic conflicts. Moreover, they help in building a better team both inside the court and outside the court.
In athletic organizations, effective communication is achieved when the athletes develop strategies for active, critical, and empathic learning. These three strategies for learning are equally important in effective interactions (Samaritans, 2009). This is because listening as well as giving a proper response leads to satisfying interpersonal relationships, strengthens friendships, and encourages understanding among the athletes.
Active listening requires one to be mentally engaged to the requirements of the other communicator, critical listening involves careful analysis, critical thinking, and sound judgment when communicating, and empathic listening involves understanding the views of the other person and reiterating to him or her the essence of meeting his or her requirements.
Most personal disagreements that occur in international athletic organizations can be traced to ineffective interpersonal communication. Flawed communications can be accompanied by dire consequences. It can lead to loss of morale in the team both on court and outside the court and a good intention can be thwarted. In athletes, collaboration with one another is essential, especially when a team is playing.
Therefore, the ingredient for building satisfying interpersonal relationships rests on maintaining effective interpersonal communication with one another, particularly when the team is composed of people from all over the world.
This can be achieved by maintaining competency and civility in speech and minimizing various obstacles such as physical barriers, bypassing, differences in frames of reference, and inadequacy in language skills. Moreover, athletes are to recognize the power of words and develop strategies for active, critical, and empathic learning.
Pedersen, P. M., Miloch, K. S., & Laucell, P. C. (2007). Strategic sport communication. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Rosenberg, M. B. (2003). Nonviolent communication: a language of life (2nd ed.). California: PuddleDancer.
Samaritans. (2009). Active Listening. Retrieved from http://www.samaritans.org/your_emotional_health/active_listening.aspx
Siegel, M. (2007). Professional athletes: Communication strategies are essential. The Media Authority. Retrieved from http://www.mikesiegel.com/
West, R., & Tumer, L. H. (2006).Understanding interpersonal communication: Making choices in changing times (2nd ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.