Communication is not a static activity. It’s actually a loop. It’s interactive
And what you say is actually completely irrelevant – what matters is what the receiver hears.
For example Say “It’s a nice day”
– in a happy voice to one person
– in a threatening voice to another person
– in sarcastic voice to a third person
Ask each person, “What message did you get?”
Vocal stress also matters. Look at this 5 word sentence:
“I did not say that”.
It can have 4 different meanings depending on which words you stress:
- I did not say that. – Someone else said it.
- I did not say that. – Complete denial.
- I did not say that. – I just implied it.
- I did not say that. – What I said was………
Speech of course is a very fluid thing. In a conversation you rarely get a chance to plan ahead. But surely writing is a different story. You’d like to think so.
But I once saw a sign: “Get your free toy catalogue here”. I had to wonder; were they offering a free catalogue or a catalogue of free toys? Some might argue that the meaning here is obvious, but that doesn’t mean it always will be.
Think about what you write and say and how you write and say it. Look at what you’re saying from the other person’s view point.
It’s an oft quoted fact but I’m going to repeat it here.
- 55% of communication is body language
- 38% is tone of voice
- 7% is the words you say
This is a very similar procedure to what we spoke about under Other People’s Maps
- Have a clear idea of what you want to say – think about your vocal stress, be aware of the environment and other people’s focus.
- Be alert to what the listener is receiving – check, get them to repeat it back to you or ask them questions for clarification (be careful of seeming confrontational or patronising).
- Vary what you’re doing/saying until they understand
Phew! Well done. Now go and have a cup of coffee (or tea or other drink of your preference. 🙂 ).