Many of us see ourselves as good communicators but how many of us have really done any scientific study to find out whether we communicate well or not.
The act of communication may look simple but it is not as simple as we think. Indeed, for me it is one of the difficult skills to master because it is intricately woven in the persona of human beings.
Communication is one of the skills that every leader must acquire. This is because our entire existence on this earth is dependent on communications and our ability to succeed in life depends on how well people buy into what we are seeking to do.
From the time of creation, we are told in the Bible (for those who believe in it) that in the beginning God created heaven and earth and God said, “Let there be light and there was light.”
This means that at the time of creation, God communicated what he wanted to do with the earth and it was so.
At the time of birth, the first thing we look out for is the cry of a baby and if this doesn’t happen within the first 30 seconds there may be a problem.
Without the sound of the baby’s cry neither the midwife nor mother will be at peace. The cry of a baby in this instance is a communication requirement.
This tells us how important communication is. Can you imagine anything you have done or achieved without communication?
Our very existence dwells on communication because even for those who cannot speak or hear they still communicate with parts of their bodies, mannerisms and symbols; that is non-verbal communication.
As we speak, all we do is to try and get our messages across.
How many people make a conscious effort to find out whether or not their communications is effective?
Many of us don’t consider feedback as an important aspect of communications. All we are interested in is being heard. But we need to remember that listening, hearing and understanding are entirely different things.
One of the areas many people struggle with in the area of communications has to do with being understood.
We sometimes complain that we have been misunderstood by a friend or partner. Who on earth has never experienced this? Presidents are often misunderstood, misquoted or misrepresented and sometimes they are often caught having to come back and restate what they said in the initial instance.
Presidents are not the only people who suffer this fate – indeed many people including pastors, teachers, leaders of groups, managers of institutions, friends and families all suffer the risk of being misunderstood.
Stephen Coveys book, Habits of Highly Effective People, written in 1989 deals with this subject.
Covey’s best-known book, which sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its first publication, is one of my favourite books.
In the book, he talks about seven habits that all effective people must acquire.
Habit 5 tries to get us to use empathic listening to genuinely understand the person we are dealing with.
Once people know you are interested in what they are saying this compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring and trust.
Indeed without the ability of communication a leader travels alone and this is why all of us must learn to communicate. Communicating with clarity will help us connect with people.
If you really want to connect with people, you need to keep your words simple and specific. After all you know what you want to communicate and if people will accept it and go along with you, they must understand you.
The subject of communication is a very huge and complex one and cannot be dealt with in one simple write up.
To be able to achieve our objectives for the year, we must learn to communicate effectively and if we can influence people to take positive decisions that will impact us, we must learn to communicate with clarity.
We must also find creative ways of soliciting feedback. With the help of many digital devices like the mobile phone we can solicit feedback.
Communication is important and as we all work towards the achievement of our goals, we must learn to communicate better.
As we improve our communications, we must also remember that as “in the last analysis, what we communicate far more eloquently surpasses anything we say or do.”