Greetings one and all…
If we are to enjoy a successful life – personally and professionally – the ability to communicate effectively is vitally important. Communication is the process of sharing or exchanging information, ideas, news, and stories. Effective communication entails the transmission AND the reception of the message. Furthermore, if we are to communicate effectively, connection with our audience is mandatory.
Communication is Challenging
Recently, I presented a program on effective communication. Evidenced by a full house, there is a pervasive desire and need to learn the art of connecting and communicating. Those in attendance ranged in age from mid-20’s to mid-90’s. Many were interested in communicating more effectively with colleagues and clients. Others wanted some tips on how to communicate with family members and friends. Regardless, we were all motivated to be there due to our previous experiences of miscommunication and the resultant adverse effects.
Those in attendance were very engaged in the discussion. They asked questions, offered suggestions, and shared personal concerns. One gentleman’s story truly touched my heart. He related his ongoing struggle to “connect” with his grandchildren who are 7 and 10 years of age. He longs to engage in heartfelt conversations. He wants to share a bit of his story and thus transmit a priceless legacy to his grandkids. However, as he noted, “My grandkids could care less about their Grandpa.” Listening and looking at this gentleman, I heard and witnessed his sorrow. He is grieving the lack of connection with his progeny. When we are not seen, heard, or seemingly honored by the people we love the most, it is painful.
So, how can we connect with family, friends, colleagues, and clients in order to effectively communicate? How can we ensure that all parties are seen, heard, and honored? Simply stated—Stop. Look. Listen.
As a national speaker and educator, I am always mindful of my audience. Knowing who is in the room, I design my message and delivery to meet the needs and wants of those present. The same approach serves equally as well for routine communications on a daily basis. In order to connect with any audience, take the time to STOP and:
- Become generationally competent. Appreciate different views of life shaped by historical events, different values, different hopes and dreams, different concerns and fears, and different communication styles.
- Recognize the abilities and disabilities of your audience. Accommodate vision and hearing deficits as well as cognitive impairments.
- Understand the benefits and the limitations of technology. Realize that the efficiency afforded by technology does not ensure effective communication.
Eye-to-eye communication reveals additional information that can increase the likelihood of communicating effectively. Why? 70% of communication is conveyed through nonverbal signals. Therefore, when face-to-face with your audience, LOOK and recognize the message being sent in addition to the words being spoken. In like fashion, be mindful of the visual messages you are sending. To master the art of face-to-face communication, learn to be at PEACE:
- Posture – Notice the message your body conveys and that of other people.
- Eye Contact – Learn to gently hold the gaze of another person.
- Approach and Appearance – Remember that people make assumptions about you within 5 seconds of seeing you based upon your approach and appearance.
- Configuration – Offer an arrangement (seating, tables, etc.) that encourages face-to-face communication.
- Energy – Be calm, confident, and caring.
Interestingly enough, effective communication actually begins with listening. Steven Covey advises in his book, The Seven Habit of Highly Effective People, that we are wise to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In order to understand, we must listen to what is said and what is not. What is required to listen well?
- Intentional Focus
- Non-anxious Presence
If you are struggling to communicate effectively with other people, you are not alone. Mastering the art of communication is a life-long process. So, do not despair! When you feel as if you have missed the mark, remember to Stop, Look, and Listen. Discover a meaningful way to connect with your audience. Once done, prepare to hear and to share heartfelt stories that will serve to transform your life. Effectively communicating is life changing! Take good care and enjoy the unfolding adventure. Blessings on your journey……jane
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