Are We Communicating or What? Part 4 of 4
Two weeks ago, we defined the four major touchpoints of communication (which I call the four crappy communicators) as:
1. what you’re thinking;
2. what you actually say;
3. what the other person hears; and
4. how the other person interprets what’s heard.
So, what’s the secret to being a great communicator? It’s simple: Excellent communicators make sure that what they say is interpreted correctly. Most people communicate to be heard. They’re most concerned that the listener hears what they say.
But there’s one step beyond No. 4 above, and it takes some training on the part of the speaker. The next time you’re speaking, watch the other people closely. Did they get what you said, or are they just acknowledging your words? With practice, you’ll be able to notice some differences. If you’re not sure, ask people you’re speaking with to mirror back what you said. Compare their responses to see if you delivered your message successfully.
3 Characteristics of Gifted Communicators
1. They’re very animated — they convey their meaning through movement, body language and even hand signals (like “air quotes” and such).
2. They speak with intention — they choose their words carefully, leaving no room for interpretation.
3. They’re very descriptive — they use analogies, metaphors, anything they can to make their point. If you try these three on for size, however, be careful: too much of this can ruin a good conversation. Watch to see if your listeners’ eyes glaze over when you’re speaking.
There’s one type of communicator that you don’t ever want to become: the person who speaks to hear him- or herself speak. These people aren’t really concerned about the listeners understanding what they’re saying. All they want to do is speak, to get it out, so they can feel satisfied that they communicated. They forget to “look over there” when speaking, because their primary concern is to get the communication out. Their mind-set is if they say it, you’ll get it. When dealing with these people, especially in business, be the better communicator. Mirror back what they just said to make sure you get it fully.