Communication: Part I
B. Keith Chapman, President & CEO
Communication remains one of the most natural but challenging tasks in our daily activity. In fact, most people take the effectiveness of their communication for granted. George Bernard Shaw made the list of my favorite quotes by saying, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. Information or data can be sent in many different forms and directions. However, communication requires a sender and a receiver of information. Most have a tendency to think of communication as one directional. Subsequently, we struggle to understand why others don’t receive and use all of the information that we are sending.
Communication is a skill, and a skill can be developed. Developing a skill of any kind requires deliberate focus and time. Technology and the fast-paced world that we live in often does not help in our efforts to communicate effectively. In fact, I have not participated in or read a strategic plan of any organization in the last 15 years that did not have the improvement of a communication process of some sort as an objective or task. So, how can it be that in a world of texting, emails and social media we are still struggling with communication? I believe it is because we have lost understanding of the importance of the sender and the receiver. We are often comfortable with the one-way push of information. Over the years, research has shown that a majority of the perceived meaning of our communication is derived from the tone of our voice and non-verbal signs like eye movement, facial expressions, body positioning, and others. All of which is seemingly lost when communicating with modern technology.
Proverbs 25:12 (NKJV) says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Dictionary.com defines the adverb “fitly” as proper or suitable manner; proper or suitable time. The other key to this passage is the word “spoken”. People did not have the luxury of cell phones back when the book of Proverbs was written. The writer of this passage must certainly be referring to a face to face conversation. A face to face communication would certainly take advantage of all verbal and non-verbal clues, while assisting the sender and receiver in maximizing the effectiveness of their efforts. There are natural distorters of communication that make the job of the sender and receiver very challenging. So taking advantage of all the clues available seems a wise choice, especially when communicating important or sensitive information.
There is certainly a place for emails, text messages and phone calls in our day to day activities. However, we have become accustomed to using this technology in place of suitable verbal conversation. Choosing the correct delivery method, timing and tone can have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of communication in your personal and professional life. Good communicators are not perfect, but they focus on improving their ability to send and receive information. One must remember that not everyone is good at the skill of communication. Some may be better senders than they are receivers or vice versa. As you work to develop your skills, you will find that you have to work much harder with some people than others. Stay the course and remember that you are not just sending and receiving information, but you are establishing relationships that can impact much more than a single topic or project.
Challenge: Remember, communication is a skill, so develop it. Use technology when appropriate but take full advantage of face to face conversations. Communicate using suitable methods, timing, and tone. Remember people are important, and communication will foster strong relationships that overcome adversity.
Published: July 2018