Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What Language Are You Speaking?

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. --George Bernard Shaw

As a coach, one of the skills people come to me for is mastering communication and persuasion. Whether it is executives, team leaders, salespeople, negotiators, teachers, and, yes, parents, no matter how successful they have been in the past, there is always someone with whom they need to communicate that is handing them an opportunity for increased skill.

“Hey, I am using English. My sentences are clear, concise, and coherent. Why are they not hearing/buying/getting/understanding me: there has to be something wrong with them.”

My son just won’t listen. Numbskull.
She refuses to buy my product. Dingbat.
No one is really changing, being transformed. Hard-hearted.
My students just aren’t getting it. Fools.
My team is in chaos because they won’t follow my instructions. Up their meds!

Yo, yo, yo… hold on there!

If the point of my communication—the outcome I intend—is not being realized, what does it say about me when I persist in maintaining the same communication strategy? When I keep saying the same thing in the same manner, doesn’t it stand to reason I am going to keep getting the same results?

Moreover, if I am not getting the outcomes I want, how does it help me to attain them by making it your fault? As soon as I make it about you, I am stuck. “ I have been clear. You just aren’t listening. This conversation is over. The end.” If, however, I maintain a mindset of “the meaning of my communication is the response I am getting,” (what these people are hearing me say is what I am communicating) the conversation remains open, possibilities still abound, and I am free to keep exploring other avenues for arriving at my desired destination. Unless, that is, if my outcome is to hear myself speak, to feel better about myself, to deliver my soul regardless of whether or not you have a clue as to what I am talking about. But really: Is that the point or is the point to truly move my son’s heart, to sell this woman my product, to see people transformed, to actually educate my students, or for my team to rally around the flag?

Most people only pay attention to what they are intending to communicate, not to what the other person is actually hearing. You focus on content, word choices, structure, and, if you are better than the average speaker, choreography: all very important considerations, of course. However, there is one consideration that, if left out of the process, will negate all the above.

Think about this:

I don’t speak, English. I speak Monte. You speak Skippy. If you want to communicate with me -- if there is an outcome to your communication with me that is important to you -- then you had better start learning to speak Monte.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013 

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