Communication. A simple word. I have discovered that communication with other human beings is one of the most difficult skills to master. In fact, I am quite sure that I have yet to master it. And that fact poses a problem for me, as I am considered an expert in communicating. As a speaker, trainer, and facilitator I am expected to have it all figured out. Well, in theory, I do. The devil is in the application of the skills.
It is easy to memorize the words and to know which skill should apply in different situations. But, can I deliver those words or explain those skills in such a way that others get it? We have all heard the studies saying physiology and tonality contribute as much as 93% of the meaning when communicating face-to-face with each other. This leaves 7% of the meaning in the words. Just because we know and deliver the words, it doesn’t mean that we have communicated effectively. My experience has been that the positive energy with which the words are delivered will make a huge difference in communication.
A) Energy is expressed through body language and tonality. When the words are delivered energetically people are more engaged and the words will be more meaningful. So, when communicating with others, whether formally as in a training class or at home with family, ask yourself if you are bringing a positive or negative energy to the conversation. Decide to take the positive approach to the conversation, even if it is a negative topic. I can bring positive energy to a negative conversation. Why? Because positive energy will help to create a more positive outcome, which could be a less negative consequence.
There are times when you are considered the expert or when you have had experiences which hone your knowledge on a certain subject. Just because you know something doesn’t mean you have to shout it to the world or beat your chest for knowing. I have found there is a difference between expertise and egoism.
B) Expertise is having the knowledge about a certain subject. The moment you believe you have all the knowledge regarding that subject the less effective you could become when communicating it to others. When you use your expertise to ask questions and allow others to think and experience that “AHA” moment, the more they will be open to your message. Sharing the statistic is not nearly as effective as asking what they think would happen if…. You can then listen and then cite the actual statistic. Let’s pretend that we ask a group of participants what the word “bad” means. They will give a wide variety of answers. We can then ask what determines which definition is the correct one in the context of a conversation and they will tell you it is the tonality and physiology with how the word is delivered. We can now share that studies have determined 93% of the meaning of a word is in the tonality and physiology. Your expertise has been transformed into a message they can relate to and internalize.
Effective communication is a continuous loop between sender and receiver. This means that it is never a one-sided event. The “I’ll talk, and you’ll listen” mode is not effective communication because it does not allow for the exchange of information. When people participate in dialogue, an exchange of information and questions, the result tends to become more positive.
C) Exchanges of information through statements, questions, and answers allows for a more robust conversation. I believe it was the Dali Lama who said, “When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” When you ask questions and allow others to participate in the communication the clarity and understanding of each other improves.
When you bring positive energy, know your material (have expertise), and allow for exchanges during the communication event odds are you will become more effective in having your message understood and in understanding the other persons message. Three simple skills yet difficult to master. Make more effective communication your goal. But realize there will always be more you can do to become more effective. I have come to realize my communication skills, while pretty good by most standards, can continually be improved.
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