Communication is that abstract thing that is all around us; a verb that has been turned into a noun. We communicate through signs, movement, words, emotions – sometimes we communicate well, sometimes not so well. Even animals communicate. Here are 5 simple principles that will enhance your communication.
1. Understand that everything is communication. In essence you cannot not communicate. Even if you are in a meeting and say nothing you are still communicating via body language and facial movements. Approximately 55% of our communication is from physiology, body language. Another 37% is using tonality leaving just 7% for words.
Like ourselves, our audience is utilising all of their senses to make sense of the outside world and comparing it to information stored within the unconscious mind. How we dress, stand, move, what we say or don’t say and how we speak, tonality, will all be messaging the recipient.
To communicate with meaning take time to build rapport. Allow your personal presentation, body language, tonality, any tools you are utilising and your words support the message you are giving. Plan, prepare and understand that everything throughout the meeting is expressing you.
2. The meaning of communication is the response it gets. Responsibility of the communication belongs to the person delivering it. It is easy to suggest that the other person doesn’t understand but then we can easily consider what has been lacking in our communication for them to not By starting with the intention of “what do I want to communicate” and “what does the other person need to know in order to understand what I am saying” we can prepare the way we communicate our message. As we deliver our message we can build rapport, calibrate the response from the recipient and be flexible in delivery. The more the deliverer responds and connects with the recipient the more influential the message can be. It is therefore important that we take responsibility for our communication to ensure the response is relevant to the communication.
3. There is no failure only feedback. When we take responsibility for the effectiveness of our communication all responses are good feedback. It allows us, the communicator, to know how well we are communicating, what is being received well and what is not; where our communication has hit the mark and where it has fallen short. By calibrating our feedback, we are able to focus our attention on where to elaborate, when to move forward, when to check that our audience has full understanding. We can ask questions to obtain more information so we can provide more meaning to our communication to get the recipient on board. Feedback is imperative and an essential part of quality communication.
4. If what you are doing isn’t working, do something different. Well they say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result! By adapting our approach, trying something different and, utilising visual, auditory and where possible kinaesthetic information we are likely to receive different results.
5. In any arrangement the person with the most flexibility controls the arrangement. When we are flexible and ready to try different things, we are more likely to convince or prompt others to follow our ideas.
Think of something that is rigid and inflexible – a stick perhaps. Should we try to mould a stick it is more likely to break because there is no flexibility in a stick. When we as communicators lack flexibility it can sometimes be difficult to create rapport, to get our message to the recipient for understanding. When we are flexible, approach the matters at hand in a different way there can be more opportunity for conducive, effective communication.
Some people ask “can I do it” when the question should be “HOW can I do it.”
There is a wonderful story about an interview with Thomas Edison after he created the light bulb. The younger interviewer apparently said “how does it feel Mr Edison to have failed a thousand times before finally creating the light bulb.”
“Fail! Fail young man!? I didn’t fail! I simply found 999 ways of how the light bulb would NOT work.”
Communication operates best when it is working both ways. The responsibility sits with the communicator and not the one receiving the communication. If it isn’t working don’t get frustrated, take a few moments to collect your thoughts and reflect on what you want to communicate and how the other person needs to receive it to understand. Then, have another go.
By Christine Walter, MNLP, Dip CAH, TMLC, mBIT Coach