I had several discussions involving effective communication tools today. Yes, several. Strange but true. Who else besides me discusses strategies on effective communication? Yep. That's what I asked. God has this amazing habit of making things clear, even when I'm not paying attention. Yes, I wasn't paying attention. At first. Hence, today's topic.
Effective communication. We have unimaginable tools at our fingertips to help make our lives easier and better through communication. We utilize computers and email for work on a daily basis. Our personal lives are shared on every type of social media platform available. Evites are used for everything from weddings to business meetings and conferences. Going 'live' is now the thing to do. Say it and see it for a better grasp of the content. Social Media Manager is a legitamate job title.
My question is this. In today's information world are we really communicating effectively? Yes, we can access information and distribute information with ease, but the question remains, are we communicating effectively?
Questions like: Are we able to understand the purpose of that video or was it presented as 'no understanding required'. Do we read and understand the words in an email effectively? Do we grasp the meaning and purpose of the words? Do we even have time to read the entire content? Do we respond appropriately? Do we read and adhere to the dress code on an invitation? Do we submit our RSVP? Do we have a deadline for that project? Is it a critical time frame deadline or can we blow it off? Who else is going to finish on time? What is the real objective? Do we really watch, read and listen to understand?
I was reminded of a team building exercise I'll call 'the rumor mill'. As part of the 'ice breaker' each person is assigned the name of someone else in the group to get to know. Without giving away the premise of the exercise, the team leader tells one person a story. That person is task to tell their assigned person the same story, and so on and so on. Finally, the last person is asked to recite the story they were eventually told. Guess how often the original version and the final version are similar? It depends on the size of the group, but it is rarely the same, close or even similar. Communication.
We all hear and see things from our own perspective. Why is it so hard? Are we listening to understand or are we already formulating our response in our heads? Are we thinking about how something similar happened to us once. Perhaps we're going over our calendar in our heads. While rearranging our schedule we might hear every fifth word or do we zone out completely?
James 1:19 AMP
"Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words] and, slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];"
Listening (really listening to hear and understand), reading throughly (yes, that means all the way through), asking questions (in order to understanding the objective), comprehension (of the intended meaning), as well as non- verbal queues are all communication skills. Communication skills that seem to be falling to the wayside in our fast paced world. Yet they are all important communication techniques. Are we just not paying attention? Are we in too much of a hurry? Maybe it's time for us to slow down and listen to each other. Really listen; to be a thoughtful and careful listener, reader and viewer.
Communication is one of the best tools in our tool belt, but ONLY IF we choose to use our communication tools effectively.