I am an investor. Most of the companies I invest in do have strong IT component. As you probably know IT people are not the best in communication.
About a week ago my business partner said something that stick to my mind. He said that we are in a communication business.
When I thought about it, I realized it is true not only for a business. I believe that our life is the communication business as communication is the way we translate our thoughts into something that can be received and understood by others.
If our life is the communication business, shouldn’t we be great in communication? The answer of course is: yes we should!
How come that so often we miscommunicate our thoughts? How come that what we are trying to communicate is misunderstood?
George Bernard Shaw once said that the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
If this is true, can we do anything to change it? I thing we can. We can consciously work on improving our ability to communicate! From my experience, there are several points to consider.
- Listen to understand
If we want to communicate we need to focus our attention. The best way to focus our attention is to listen to understand. It is a state of mind. We can do it if we consciously train ourselves to listen with the intention to understand not to replay. When we want to understand something, we will need to learn how to ask questions. We will need to be able to admit that we do not understand and ask for explanation. We will need to learn to paraphrase what we have heard to see if we understood it well.
- Communicate not only with the words
We need to remember that communication has many aspects and we need to be aware of how we are using all the different aspects while we communicate. The main aspects of communication are body language, facial expressions, gestures, attitude (emotions), toon of voice, silence (pauses) and of course the choice of words. The best illustration of the impact of some aspects of communication is to read in a dictionary one word ‘bastard’ and then be called the same name by an angry person in the presents of other people. The word may be the same, but the message is completely different!
- Simple is beautiful
Einstein once said that if we can’t explain it simply, we don’t understand it well enough… There is a beauty and power in simplicity. When we say “I love you” with the right emotions and body language, we do not need to say anything more… The person will receive our message and understand it. Searching for simple ways to express and explain what we think is tough work, but it is worth mastery!
- Be brief
We all have so many things to do, so many things to think of… The span of our attention is limited. If we want to be clear and understood, we should learn how to be brief. The best way to practice is on children when they are playing. If we are not brief, there is no chance they will last to the end of our message :).
- Learn to tell stories
We all love to hear a good story. Stories stick more than just facts. Stories can be used to communicate something without getting personal… I remember Les Brown once sad “never make point without a story, never tell story without a point…”. I think this is so true. If we can package our message into short, simple and powerful story and tell it ‘the right way’ we can increase our chances of being understood drastically.
I am trying to be better communicator. Even so I am conscious about importance of becoming better in communication, often I am misunderstood. I know that it is a question of practice, practice and one more time practice! I know we all can become better and better communicators and I know that this single skill when improved will have significant and positive impact not only on our business but also our life!