Have you ever thought how you communicate?

The majority of humans believe that communication is all about talking at someone else. Unfortunately this is about 5% of the whole thing.

The words and language that we use make up only 8% of our overall message when we talk with other people; much more important are the way that we say it and our body language. This is not taught to us at school and so we make up our own methods of communication, and kind of hope for the best. Some people are naturally better at communicating than others, and rely on an intuitive sense to gauge how they are being perceived, whilst others find it very difficult to understand someones real meaning and struggle to pass on a message effectively. Without being taught this kind of thing, you are left to your own devices, and it’s not surprising that some fall short.

Given that most issues in a persons life are somehow connected to a relationship with another person, and the way that you resolve issues with people is by communicating effectively with them, then it puts the skill of communication right up there as one off the most important things you could possibly master in your life. In business of any kind, success relies on relationship building and influencing, both of which rely on how effectively you can talk to the other person.

This next segment is taken from Chip Heath.

“Stephen Covey, in his book The 8th Habit, decribes a poll of 23,000 employees drawn from a number of companies and industries. He reports the poll’s findings:

* Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why
* Only one in five was enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals
* Only one in five said they had a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals
* Only 15 percent felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals
* Only 20 percent fully trusted the organization they work for

Then, Covey superimposes a very human metaphor over the statistics. He says, “If, say, a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.”
― Chip HeathMade to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

I love these statistics because they really highlight the absurdity of how bad, general communication is, especially in business. The thing is, if you’re not shown where you are making errors in your judgement then you will continue to make them, and this will then cause more issues.

There is an acronym that is used in the understanding of body language, but it can be applied to all of the elements of a conversation:

You – being aware of your own body language when in conversation

Observe – being able to identify others body language

Decode – be able to interpret the hidden meaning in what they are saying

Adapt – be able to change your communication style in order to influence the conversation positively

Some people do this naturally where as others fail at the first step.

It is incredibly important to be aware of the signals that you give out when you are dealing with all aspects of life; managing, selling, motivating, coaching, punishing, negotiating, entertaining, comforting, welcoming, leading; all of these different roles require you to effectively put your specific message across, in a concise and congruent way. And so, being aware of all of the elements of how we communicate is the beginning of this.

To summarise:

  1. Know the intended outcome for your communication
  2. Ensure that your physiology, your voice, and your words are congruent with each other
  3. Observe all of the elements of your partners side of the conversation
  4. Read any hidden meaning or intention that you notice
  5. Adapt your own style in order to make the conversation mutually beneficial and productive

clear lantern hold courses for various business types in better communication. Please get in touch to understand more.  

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