What is communication?
I suppose the importance of communication can’t be over-communicated. But really, what is communication?
A bit of a revision lesson here.
Communication is simply (wry smile)…transferring your thoughts into words (written or spoken). And then sharing them with the world. And trusting that the way in which you have transmitted those thoughts ensures that the people receiving your communication synthesise the content in a way so that closely resembles your thoughts. So that sentence wasn’t simple and we know, intuitively, that the practice of communication is not simple either.
On the other hand when we are in the presence of a skilled communicator that movement of “a thought to your thought” is easier.
Often when in a leadership learning experience, the entrance point to re-examining our communication prowess is speaking. This can give the impression that speaking is the most important communication element. Please don’t misunderstand me, nailing your public speaking, is important but listening is the first element to attend to.
I recently spent time in the presence of a focused woman. And I spent significantly more time in the car with her as we travelled our region of Australia, assisting her to understand the community issues. I was assisting. She was the key person in our team and it was a gift for my understanding to watch her and then reflect on what I had observed.
Now before I go ahead and provide you with my observations here is my challenge to you – ditch “great speaker = amazing public address” thinking, perhaps just this once, and consider someone you know who has listened to you as you spoke.
- How did you know you were being listened to?
- What was the interaction like when someone listened to you?
- And how did you feel when you were being listened to?
The art of careful communication
The art of careful communication is getting yourself set to hear and understand.
Do you set yourself up to hear and understand when you are listening?
What does Careful Communication mean?
Careful communication could mean a number of things. Careful has one meaning which suggests caution and tentativeness. The other definition is more useful to my mind…done with thought and showing attention.
Let’s go back to remembering how you felt when you were listened to. When we are listened to we feel that the other person is giving us their attention and doing it in an open, thoughtful way. Are you listening in a careful way now? I hope so.
If we (definitely read “I” here also) commence our careful communication with careful listening as the starting action then all sorts of opportunities open up to us.
I think about all of you as I write, this our community all over Australia. And I see all of you heading...
- back into your work tomorrow
- your family room in 10 minutes
- to your car with your teenager or your toddlers bedroom
- your school starters classroom
and I think about you all in careful communication mode. And I see problems diminished and others being valued.
Doesn’t that sound like leadership?
So, what is the Art of Careful Communication?
The art of careful communication is, of course, not only about listening. It is also about speaking.
Consequentially, I would consider similar principles.
Talking extraverts - are they any other sort? I believe there is. As one, if I could also bring to my oral communication the same principles of thought and attention how much more effective might I be. I would be considering my words before I say them and I would think through the audience. And I would be imagining the transfer of the information into the persons' thought-processes.
What else would I be doing?
Well, I would also be attending and pay attention to the responses of those I am speaking with. Looking at their faces and unconscious reactions to what I am saying. Building on this feedback and adjusting all elements of my communication.
The careful art of communication is about thinking about the other…not thinking about self.
This doesn’t mean not having ideas and opinions. What it does mean is considering and acknowledging that communication is always two-way and for it to be two-way we have to do carefully.