Communication Apprehension

Those who suffer from communication apprehension are individuals who are afraid to communicate with other individuals. Research suggests that the number of people with communication apprehension is quite significant, especially among children who have not yet entered secondary school. It is noted that, as time goes on, individuals become more confident and communication apprehension has a tendency to lessen with age. However, for some, communication apprehension is an issue that can extend into adulthood.

Often, communication apprehension is associated with fear and anxiety. This can be experienced by people who feel that they may have to speak or when they actually are requested to speak. The situation is of a mind-over-matter nature, where the individual experiencing the communication apprehension is worried internally about how his or her communication will be perceived by the recipient.

There are a number of factors that go into communication apprehension and its impact on the individual. If people feel that another person is superior or will judge them, it creates an issue in the level of anxiety experienced. A person's past also impacts the level of anxiety he or she may have in communicating. For instance, if an individual has had a negative experience associated with communicating freely, this may cause greater levels of anxiety when trying to communicate something similar or in a similar environment.

A form of communication apprehension is lack of communication skills and subsequently a lack of confidence. This is commonly known as stage fright. An individual in this case will shy away from speaking in public and will likely avoid scenarios where he or she needs to communicate extensively with others.

Communication apprehension is a widespread phenomenon that cuts across cultural lines. Among the many possible causes is fear of judgment and evaluation. Being in a unique situation can also be a cause of communication apprehension, as an individual may feel uncomfortable in his or her surroundings and unable to articulate appropriately. Other causes of communication anxiety are being unprepared and focusing on negative outcomes of a communication interaction. These causes are easily controlled by, respectively, preparing in advance for important communication interactions and being optimistic about potential outcomes of a situation.

Communication apprehension can lead to a number of serious consequences that should not be taken lightly. The fact that this creates varying degrees of anxiety for the individual can cause unhealthy levels of stress in both the physical and emotional sense, and that can have a negative impact on both the body and mind. Other consequences of this anxiety is that it can limit people in a number of areas of their lives, including their career prospects, advancement at school and social interactions with others.

To this effect, treating the issue is important for individuals so they can overcome these barriers and improve their communication skills. There are a number of ways to manage mild communication apprehension through the use of techniques. Focusing on the audience is a solid strategy to take the mental emphasis off of the individual and onto the recipient. This also demonstrates to the audience that the speaker is receptive to their responses and will assist in growing communication skills. It is always advised to overprepare when dealing with an episode of communication apprehension. It is proven that the more preparation an individual has done, the more confident he or she feels in a communication scenario. Staying positive is another important strategy for overcoming anxiety associated with communication. Positive thinking often leads to positive outcomes, which is important for successful communication interactions.

If an individual experiences communication apprehension at an advanced level, treatment may be required. There are a number of methods that can help people improve their abilities as communicators. One of these methods is called cognitive restructuring, which helps to identify the root cause of the anxiety. Another method, systematic desensitization, enables people to test their communication skills and experience the related anxiety in a safe environment. This will assist them in realizing that the communication does not have to lead to anxiety. Over time, a number of new strategies are being developed to assist individuals who suffer from communication apprehension.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Speaking Persuasively: Making the Most of Your Presentations
Patsy McCarthy; Caroline Hatcher.
Allen & Unwin, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Attitudes Create Anxiety" begins on p. 2 and "Dealing with Anxiety: Preparing Mentally" begins on p. 47
Communication Apprehension, Interpretive Styles, Preparation, and Performance in Oral Briefing
Thomas, Gail Fann; Tymon, Walter G., Jr.; Thomas, Kenneth W.
The Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 31, No. 4, October 1994
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Teacher Leadership Skills: An Analysis of Communication Apprehension
Roby, Douglas E.
Education, Vol. 129, No. 4, Summer 2009
Media Richness, Communication Apprehension and Participation in Group Videoconferencing
Campbell, John.
Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations, Vol. 1, Annual 2006
Skills versus Apprehension: Empirical Evidence on Oral Communication
Fordham, David R.; Gabbin, Alexander L.
Business Communication Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 3, September 1996
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
I Will Fear No Audience: General Semantics Applied to a Communication Apprehensive Public Speaking Laboratory
Elkins, Michael R.
ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 53, No. 1, Spring 1996
Men Talk: An Exploratory Study of Communication Patterns and Communication Apprehension of Black and White Males
Jordan-Jackson, Felecia F.; Davis, Kimberly A.
The Journal of Men's Studies, Vol. 13, No. 3, Spring 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Ecology of Academic Risk: Relationships between Communication Apprehension, Verbal Aggression, Supportive Communication, and Students' Academic Risk Status
Lippert, Lance R.; Titsworth, B. Scott; Hunt, Stephen K.
Communication Studies, Vol. 56, No. 1, March 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Communication Apprehension and Cultural Context: A Comparison of Communication Apprehension in Japanese and American Students
Pryor, Burt; Butler, Jeff; Boehringer, Kristin.
North American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 2, June-July 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Worry as a Function of Public Speaking State Anxiety Type
Addison, Penny; Clay, Ele; Xie, Shuang; Sawyer, Chris R.; Behnke, Ralph R.
Communication Reports, Vol. 16, No. 2, Summer 2003
Spoken Skills, Communication Apprehension and Collaborative Learning/COMPÉTENCES ORALES, APPRÉHENSION DE COMMUNICATION ET APPRENTISSAGE EN COLLABORATION
Osman, Nazira; Nayan, Surina; Mansor, Mahani; Maesin, Anis; Shafie, Latisha Asmaak.
Cross - Cultural Communication, Vol. 6, No. 2, June 3, 2010
Classroom Communication and Diversity: Enhancing Institutional Practice
Robert G. Powell; Dana Caseau.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Communication Apprehension" begins on p. 36
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