Think of communication in terms of an outcome!
Unfortunately, nothing is so simple that it can’t be misunderstood. You might not think of yourself as a communicator, but the truth is you spend countless hours every day attempting to communicate. In fact, most of us make our living communicating in some way or another. Therefore, the ability to communicate effectively is the most important skill we can develop. Let me repeat that, because it’s the most important message of this blog post: The number one skill of every leader, manager, executive, parent, teacher, spouse and salesperson is the ability to effectively communicate with others.
The miracle of communication is that we communicate as well as we do. Think about the intricacies of our egos, beliefs, self-images and backgrounds. Add to this our uniqueness of our experiences, assumptions and biases and then think about language and cultural differences, regional speech patterns and semantics. It’s no wonder that communication is the number one frustration with employees. And that frustration isn’t just confined to the workplace; it extends to our personal lives as well.
Communication is also the number one fear in the “Book of Lists.” And not just speaking in front of large groups, but in front of small groups too. To put that in perspective, the “fear of death” is ranked number seven in the “Book of Lists.” That means many of us would rather die than get up and speak in front of a group of people. We come by that naturally. When we’re very young were told to be quiet, to hush-up, to not make a spectacle of ourselves, to not speak to strangers. No wonder as adults we’re not comfortable speaking in front of groups. We’ve rarely been encouraged to do so.
Communication is the number one skill, the number one frustration and the number one fear. To communicate more effectively with others, we need to make a shift and think of communication in terms of an outcome. To do that, we must look at communication from the receiver’s perspective. We should always ask these two questions: “What is my desired outcome with this communication?” “What do I want others to think, feel and do after receiving my message?” At a minimum, our objective for effective communication should be mutual understanding.
Over the next three months Gary will continue his blog series on the Art of Telling. He believes that speaking skills are required and acquirable for today’s business professional. The purpose of the Art of Telling blog series is to enable readers to develop the communication and presentation skills that will serve them a lifetime. Click here to see more on Gary’s Art of Telling programs and seminars.