Friday, 2 December 2011

Communication, it is not just about words.

48 years ago when Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his “I have a dream” speech, he did more than just give a speech. In 17 minutes, he inspired thousands.

3 years ago the United States of America elected Barack Obama as their President. His rhetorical skills – the ability to plant visions into the public’s head and invoke feelings with words was what catapulted him into where he is now. 

Jane Sunley, CEO of Learnpurple, calls it “The Big C” which is essentially the first thing we learn in order to get what we want as infants. Nearly 85% of what is accomplished in a career (and personal life) is determined by the ability to get the message sent across and the persuasion powers of it for others to take a chance on the ideas and recommendations that comes with it. It is no surprise then that leadership and communication go hand in hand. In turbulent times, the leader has to communicate hope with purpose and passion to employees. A correctly transmitted message creates motivation within the employees and empowers them to overcome obstacles and accomplish more. 

However, in the modern business world with Skype, video blogs, podcasts, emails, teleconferences, and text messages instead of the good old-fashioned face-to-face chats, the opportunity for poor communication to take place increases. The reliance on a medium grows as the message gets distorted with each individual’s different lingo and inference. Often employers are the last to find out that poor communication is the root cause of their problems, which ironically, is a direct result of the lack of communication within the organization. If an employer is unable to create a proper flow of accurate information then evidently message from the bottom tier will not be able to flow back to him. 

Thankfully, effective communication is a learned skill. 

According to Albert Mehrabian, who pioneered the understanding of communications since the 1960s and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, there are 3 essential elements to take note. 

1. Choice of words
Many in attempt to impress choose bombastic words and lose their message in the big words that many may not understand. A string of simple but effective words carries the message further than a message that cannot be understood.

2. Emphasis and Tone
Increasing voice and pitch of tone at different parts of a sentence can greatly alter the meaning behind the message. It also highlights the important parts of the message.

3. Body Language
The effect of communication can be increased a by leaning towards the audience or shifting your weight forward onto the balls of feet and an appropriate amount of hand gestures.

In addition to these, a competent communicator will manipulate effectively and correctly the how(s) and where(s) the message should be communicated. They are able to align themselves the audiences’ goals and methods to produce a smooth, productive, and often enjoyable dialogue. They aspire not only to transmit a message accurately and effectively. They inspire, motivate and with it, drive an organization.

Editor: JT

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