by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor
After all we each practice it all day, every day in both our personal and professional lives so we should get pretty good at it.
It isn’t a hard theory. You talk and I hear you. I write and you read it.
Let me give you an example of how it can go haywire. Some years ago we went to a cocktail party that was hosted by a friend of ours, one of the state’s premier attorneys. The group was 99% lawyers and judges. (I always wondered about the propriety of those types of gatherings.)
One of the judges asked me what kind of job I had and I told him that I hadn’t had a job for over three years. His response was, “Oh my God you poor man. What do you do, maybe we can find something for you.” Here was the problem. He took what I said to mean that I was unemployed. What I meant was that I was retired. I talked, he listened, but there was zero communication as there was no understanding of the message. So who was at fault? Of course I was, because I did not convey what I really meant.
There is no communication if the message isn’t clear. There is no communication if the hearer doesn’t listen and understand. The same issue as the question of : “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there, is there a sound?” Are there sound waves? Presumably, but if no one hears them then was there a sound? Well we won’t debate that here.
While the theory of communication is pretty straight forward, the implementation requires a lot of steps on the part of at least two parties. It is hard work actually.
The speaker or writer must:
1. Think about what his message is in exact terms and by what method he wishes to convey that message.
2. Select and use the specific words to convey that message.
3. Be sure that the vehicle being used is the best way to convey the message.
4. Deliver the message in clear, unadorned, easily understood language. This is no place to flaunt your expertise with flowery vocabulary.
The the reader or listener must:
1. Pay close attention.
2. Make an effort to understand the message, which is not the same thing as just hearing it. Listening is an active process as opposed to the passive process of hearing.
3. Have the freedom to ask questions if clarification is needed.
4. Keep the mind from wondering. The brain works faster that we read or hear and often goes off on side thoughts causing a break or gap in the message.
Then and only then is there any chance for communication that is meaningful and significant to both parties.
What techniques have you found to be helpful in communication? Speak softly, speak loudly, use hand signs to keep attention?