Over the past few months, our newly elected President has created change (like it or not) by creating new policies or amending existing ones. While a good portion of Americans support this, the delivery of his communication has been less than gratifying to some. Okay, maybe this doesn’t relate to you, so how about this? Perhaps you know at least one person who says something, but because of the tone in their voice or past conversations, you know what they are saying just isn’t true. I once had a boss who would talk about the company’s vision and goals as something to be achieved. Then in the next breath, criticize a section of the staff. How do you think that went over? Passive/aggressive much?
Isn’t communication… communicating? Absolutely. But what are we all communicating?
What is communication? A basic definition says “the imparting or exchanging of information or news”. If this is the case, then we all communicate great! We share information in some way, form or fashion and receive information in those same ways. However, our communication can be diluted, irrelevant, and misguided because what we say does not match up to our body language and/or tone. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” (George Bernard Shaw)
Eighteen years ago as newlyweds, my wife and I got into a little bit of a heated discussion. I recognized at one point within the conversation that it was not going anywhere so I simply said, “stop looking at me in that tone of voice.” (I’ll let it sink in – stop looking at me in that tone of voice) She busted up laughing, and I realized that what I had said was not only true but an opportunity to recognize that we speak with our eyes as well.
Effective communication is a two-way street that allows the “receiver”of information to respond to the “sender.” For an effective conversation, this is a cyclical process. For example, I teach at a local university in the Phoenix area; and I encourage my students to ask questions, to challenge what they have been taught, but more importantly to engage in active communication. Push back from your desk, put your phone down, turn the television off and be there for people.
It would be nice if our education system were to add communication to their field of studies; or better yet, our homes developed this long lost skill. You see, when interviewing potential employees, many employers are looking for those essential “soft skills”. We want to hire people who can carry on a conversation that shares and receives information; not just sends it. It’s a skill that’s applicable not just in the workplace, but in all of our relationships.
We’ve only scratched the surface. There is so much more to learn about effective communication. We all know that we expect more from someone in a leadership role because they are to be emulated or serve as an example to others. To quote James Humes, “the art of communication is the language of leadership.” Let’s Communicate!