Communicating with others is paramount to human nature. From the first moment of eye contact as new born babies, we have all, one way or another, developed our own inter-personal communication skills.
My own experience has been multiform. In my opinion, communication is fundamentally a matter of relationships. What one communicates is less important than to whom one communicates. My understanding of effective communication has been a journey to say the least. Initially, I was certain what mattered most was being the smartest and having a superior message. Now, my question is simply, how can one be understood and share ideas effectively?
- Communicating is truly a passion. I have been fortunate in my career and have had numerous opportunities to communicate with others in a variety of ways and through a variety of mediums. From one-on-one mentoring to speaking engagements in front of a large audience, to radio and television interviews, to publishing books and articles — the diversity of the channels been both educational and fascinating.
- Communicating requires first and foremost the capacity for listening. It seems paradoxical, but it is a crucial element of any kind of successful communication. Whom am I talking or writing to? Where are they coming from? What do I know about their professional or cultural background? Without understanding or knowing the answers to these questions, it is “vox clamantis in deserto” or a “voice crying in the desert.”
- Truthful communication comes from the soul and the heart as much as it does from the mind. Empathy is essential to the development of a credible message.
- Simplicity when communicating is essential in an audience’s understanding of a message. Presenting complex concepts in a clear and simple way is an example of true intelligence. The use of technical and/or specialized jargon only creates obstacles in what could be effective communication.
- Candor is not often present in communication. I am fascinated by the common belief that a communicator can manipulate an audience without their knowing. To me, this implies that the communicator believes the audience is only ever full of ignorant people.
- A legal script is not communication. Yet, in publicly listed companies, lawyers are trying everything to reduce the content and the tone of those who have to communicate. By doing so, they reduce their liability to the detriment of their client and the public that their clients have to reach. They are supported by rules and regulations who do not allow be truthfully.
- Integrity in communication or the integrity of a message is essential. Many of the press releases, speeches we view today suffer from a lack of credibility. Why are politicians no longer credible? Where is the sincerity of the speaker?
In a nutshell, when human beings talk to one another, it is one’s individual personality that defines how an audience is being addressed. Unfortunately, many public figures or “leaders” in today’s world have acquired the unenviable reputation of being completely insincere, or la langue de bois. Unfortunately, in many types of “official communication,” communicators are often discouraged from sharing certain emotions (disappointment, anger and enthusiasm to name a few) and as a result, they appear insincere, as does their message. This is a huge mistake. I speak and write what I feel. While this might not always please everyone, I know that the feedback will be refreshing, sincere and candid. As communicators, we can’t really ask for anything more.