Working in the voluntary sector
Working in the voluntary sector

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Working in the voluntary sector

2 Understanding communication

Described image
Figure 2 The front cover of Visible Voices (Source: Community Links, 2015)

What is happening when you try to communicate with someone? Figure 2 is an example of a publication by Community Links, a social action charity rooted in east London and nationally focused. It is the front cover of Visible Voices, a collection of projects run by and for young people around the United Kingdom (UK). It is one of a number of ‘Ideas Annuals’ published by Community Links in order to share good practice and inspiration among voluntary organisations.

Activity 2 Conveying a message

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Look at Figure 2 carefully and then try to answer the following questions.

Who do you think is intended to see this?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

What other groups of people are likely to see it?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

What message do you receive from it?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Do you think it is the message that the writer intended?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Visible Voices is a publication intended for young people involved in community development, but it will also be seen by:

  • members of the general public
  • people in the media
  • people working for companies or trusts that might fund some of the activities
  • policy makers in government and elsewhere.

Here are some possible reactions to it:

  • ‘cheap and cheerful’
  • rather messy and amateurish
  • confusing
  • fun
  • happy
  • political correctness
  • a rose-tinted view of multicultural community action.

It is possible that the primary audience will find this rather informal style less intimidating than a more ‘professional’ looking document. However, the danger is that others might think the content will be amateurish, messy or, perhaps, too good to be true. In fact, the document is full of useful ideas, has a good contents page and is attractively laid out.

In the real world, it is rare for someone to do what you have just been doing in this task – to concentrate solely on a ‘communication’ for several minutes and analyse it in the way you have done. Most of the time, people are receiving messages with minimal interest or concentration. Because of this lack of concentration, many of the messages we receive are lost, misunderstood or garbled.

Even when you are talking to someone you know, face to face, you cannot be sure they are taking in all you say or understanding it in the same way you do. If you are communicating at one remove, perhaps by email, through a website or in a report, you have less chance to check what someone else is taking in, and so the chances of misunderstandings going undetected are higher.

These examples show that communication is not a straightforward process. Sending a message is not a guarantee that it will be received or, that if it is received, it will be understood in the way that you intended.

VOLB_2

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371