This month I am launching —Communication/Presentation. This is such a vital piece to the success equation in both our personal and professional lives. Effective communication will greatly enhance our lives, and I invite you to join me on this journey into the key components of communication that I will discusses this month.
So let us keep moving on and reaching higher on this journey together.
You’re doing great!
-The N.J.W Blog
Part One—Fundamentals of Effective Communication and Overcoming the Obstacles of Communication
Our topic this month is a critical component of mastering success. By mastering the art of communication, you will increase every level of performance related to your company, staff and individual performance, as well as all your personal relationships.
This is what I am covering this month the topic of Communication:
1. Fundamentals of Effective Communication and Overcoming the Obstacles of Communication. This covers the basic parts and kinds of communication to help you convey your message well. This lays the groundwork for everything else I will talk about this month. I will also cover those obstacles that get in the way between you and effective communication. All this in this week’s edition. How exciting!
2. Improving Relationship and Business Communications. This covers the two basic kinds of communication: business communication and our everyday relational communication. I will look at how to improve both kinds so you can excel and enjoy every area of your life. I will cover this in next week’s edition. Don’t Forget to subscribe
3. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication and Listening Skills. This covers the two kinds of communication we use and how to better use them. Most of us are aware of our verbal communication, but less so of our nonverbal communication. I will also take a look at how to be a better listener and why it pays to be one. I will cover this in two weeks.
4. The Essentials of Powerful and Effective Presentations and Using Communication to Further Your Dreams. This covers all you need to become a better speaker the next time you are called upon to give a presentation. Whether you give one a year or once a week, the tips you get here will make a big difference. I will also cover how communication plays a significant role in the pursuit and achievement of your dreams. All of this in three weeks.
So let’s get to it!
The Fundamentals of Effective Communication
Our very success is heavily dependent upon our ability to communicate. This is not just for professional speakers. From schoolchildren to grandparents, everyone should work on improving their communication skills so they can improve their lives. Improving your ability to communicate will be one of the most important things you ever do.
One of the easiest ways to improve your communication is to start by solidifying your base, so to speak, by working on and improving the fundamentals. To get you started, here are a few areas that everyone should know and master.
Communication is powerful—for better and for worse. There is a proverb in the Bible that says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” This is true. What a person says can build people up or tear them down. The ability to communicate is a powerful responsibility. Whole nations have been inspired to action because of single individual’s passionate words. On the other hand, countless millions of children have been deeply hurt because of the derogatory words spoken to them by their parents. You have within you the incredible power of communication. You can create tremendous things in your life if you take communication seriously and use its power to help others and yourself. Combining this knowledge with a heart set on doing good is the first step in unleashing this incredible force!
Communication must be purposeful. In order to be effective, your communication should be on purpose. Yes, occasionally you may say something off the top of your head and that can hold weight with others, but this is the exception and not the rule. In order to become an effective communicator, you should be very purposeful about your communication. Know what you want to communicate, when you want to communicate and how you want to communicate. Decide what kind of communication will enhance your life and the lives of those around you, and plan your steps for communicating in that way. And then work your plan—know what it is you want to accomplish and how must you communicate in order to do so.
What you say must match what you do. Remember, people watch what you do, not just what you say. What you do always outweighs what you say. If you say one thing and do another, people will follow what you do. If you say something and back it up with your actions, you will provide the “proof” for people who are listening to you, and they will much more willingly follow your lead.
Improve the “Big Two”: speaking and writing. When it comes to communication, these are the “Big Two” that everyone can improve upon: speaking and writing. For every one step that you take to increase your ability to speak and write, you will improve your career position two steps. Don’t think that you have to become the best speaker or writer in the world; just set your sights on the next level above where you are now. Once you get there, then continue to work to the next level.
Here are a few tips for becoming a better speaker and writer:
Becoming a better speaker:
– Join Toastmasters.
– Take a college course on public speaking.
– Give a speech in front of a mirror.
– Just speak—wherever you can.
Becoming a better writer:
– Keep a journal.
– Join a writing club.
– Have people who are more skilled than you help edit (and critique) your letters and e-mails.
– Take a college course on writing.
– Write that book you’ve been thinking about.
Becoming a better speaker and writer will be based on three things: doing it, getting feedback and acting on that feedback.
Learn to listen. Communication is not one direction—it goes both ways. To become an effective communicator, you must be a good listener. All of the following examples show the power of listening: the parent who listens for the feelings of his or her child; the salesperson who listens for what kind of product the client wants; the boss who listens to the concerns of his employees. Can you see how listening in those situations enables you to become a better communicator? Once you know what your “audience” wants, you will be able to better communicate to them. We covered listening skills last month in detail. I would encourage you to go back over those items until they become a natural part of you.
Care about the people with whom you communicate. Talk with them, not to them. People don’t want you to talk at them. They want to communicate. Think about it: The root word is commune, which means to live and share together. This is what we do when we communicate together—we share words and ideas. This means we must care about the people we are communicating with. We should be interested in their needs and desires. And when we know those, we can communicate more effectively with them.
Focus on clarity. The most effective communication is clear communication. Many beginning speakers believe that they should be as verbose as possible—but that is not what makes them effective! The important principle is clarity. Do they (the people in your audience) understand your message? That is the question. If they don’t, then you haven’t communicated. Be as clear and as concise as you can. Never go any longer than it takes to make the communication as clear as it needs to be. And, above all, make sure your audience understands your message when you are finished.
Communicate over and over again. In order to be effective, communication must be done over and over again. The parent or boss who yells, “How many times must I tell you?” is really just proving again that people need to hear a message many times before they internalize it. That is just the difficult nature of communication. Very rarely will you be able to communicate something just once and have someone or some group walk away with full understanding. It just doesn’t happen that way. You need to do it often and in varied ways. This is what will make your communication most effective.
Improve your vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling. When people hear you or read what you have written, they look for class and style. This can often be noticed through your vocabulary, your pronunciation and your spelling. If you want to be more effective, focus on improving in these areas. A key phrase is that our vocabulary directly affects the way we both view and interpret the world around us. If we have a small vocabulary, it limits our ability to define or communicate what we see, feel and hear. The larger the vocabulary, the better our ability to relate. What size is your view—a peephole or a huge, clear window showing the great expanse of this amazing, wonderful world we live in?
You can become an effective communicator! Start with improving the fundamentals, and you will get better. Once you have mastered the fundamentals—and very few have—then you can start on the advanced areas and become world-class!
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!
Most people have never thought about just how difficult communication really is. If we would recognize this, we would be much more patient and diligent in our communication efforts, which would, in turn, make us much more effective.
Think about one person speaking to another—the most basic form of communication. Sounds simple, right? Not so quick. Imagine all the places where communication can break down, just in one person saying one sentence to another person. Let’s take a look at the progression that one sentence goes through:
It starts in the heart or emotions. The thought starts not in the mind, but in the place where people feel. Of course, you can already see that, in and of itself, this can cause difficulties.
Next, feeling needs to be translated into a rational thought. Transforming an irrational feeling into a rational thought is another chance for breakdown.
Next, that thought needs to be transformed into words. Have you ever heard someone say, “I am just not saying what I am thinking”? Just the six inches from the brain to the tongue provide ample opportunity for breakdown in the communication process.
Can you see that before words are ever heard there are three opportunities for the communication to break down? It is a wonder anything ever gets communicated correctly!
Most people suggest that the next stage is the other person’s ear. Not true. The next step is what we call “circumstances or atmosphere.” This includes culture, noise, time of day, language, etc. For example, a joke told at a wedding may elicit laughter, but that same joke told at a funeral would be looked down upon. Invite most people to a backyard barbecue where you are serving pork ribs, and they would probably feel glad you invited them. Make that same offer to an Orthodox Jewish person, and you may risk offending them. We need to take into account our surrounding environment, circumstances and “audience” and allow those things to help direct our communication method and style.
Next, we get to the ear. Did the other person even hear you? Did they hear you correctly? These two questions will have a profound effect on your ability to communicate effectively. They also provide another area where communication can break down.
After the other person hears what you say, they have to interpret the words. Do they understand your language? Do they understand the meaning of your words? Do they interpret the words positively or negatively?
Lastly, the words go into the other person’s heart or emotions. How do they feel about it? Maybe you have communicated that your organization has to change. They understand it and agree with you on a rational level, but, deep down, change may scare them. They may fear the loss of their jobs. That is something that will definitely affect your communication!
So, how do we overcome these obstacles? First, by understanding what we are up against. Leaders can’t have the “Well, I told them once, they should get it” attitude. This is especially true in our day and age, with the inundation of communication.
Take precautions at each stage:
1. Know how you feel about what you are communicating.
2. Know what you are thinking about what you want to communicate. Get clear on it.
3. Prepare yourself to articulate your message as clearly as you are thinking about it.
4. Be aware of the challenges your circumstances and atmosphere will present to your communication efforts.
5. Make sure that the person you are communicating with hears you correctly. That is done by clarifying with them.
6. Clarify with them about how they interpret what you are saying.
7. Find out how they feel about what you are communicating.
The same goes with communicating to a larger audience. If communicating with one person is difficult, then communicating with 500 people is even more difficult. It can be done, though. It just requires diligent preparation and execution in our communication plans.