(with apologies to Mr. Shakespeare)
What is communication? I talk to you, you talk to me? I hear what you are saying and parrot it back? I read something and tell someone else what I read? All of these? None of these? Something else?
Why is communication so hard? I work with smart all the time. The one thing I have to say often is that they don’t listen. Listening I think, is as important as talking is, when you are using the verb communicate.
These are smart people who don’t listen, or worse, continue the conversation after you’ve left the room. They then come back with a completely different answer then the one you had agreed upon less than 10 minutes before.
And why is it that people don’t communicate well?
Why do people think that letting other people talk before rebutting their ideas is communication?
Why do people believe that during a brainstorming session it’s ok to tell people their ideas suck?
It’s because we don’t communicate.
Communication is a value proposition. Something that helps us humans reach out beyond the emptiness and share something.
Its that that world "share" that is what communication is all about. Sharing…reaching a common place where both parties can equally enjoy an idea. It’s not about who is the most sarcastic. Or about who is the quickest with a one liner. It’s about sharing.
Which sadly seems to be lost.
The signs of bad communication:
- My idea is so important I can’t wait to interrupt you. I call this the Arnold Horshack syndrome personally (oohh ohhh Mr Kotter, Mr Kotter).
- Your idea is so stupid I have to not only dismiss the idea I have to dismiss you as a person. ( I call this the Dilbert issue – your thoughts have no substance – which is why they can escape from the black hole that is your intellect). This is also sometimes called the "smartest guy in the room" syndrome.
- Grab the marker, take over the whiteboard and "don’t listen" syndrome. personally I call this one the dancing bear syndrome. Taking the marker and standing at the whiteboard performing for the audience – I find it very entertaining.
- That is not the way it is, syndrome (we’ve always shaved our heads in the past to celebrate Christmas so we are doing it again this year).
- The "we don’t have any more time for this topic" used to stop a conversation. Sometimes called the "let’s take this offline" syndrome.
All of these little bombs destroy communication. They rend the three essential pieces of communication and destroy them.
The next time you are at a meeting or on a con call – listen – identify people leveraging these techniques and see who they are on your team. Hopefully you aren’t leveraging number 2 or 3.
What are the signs of good communication?
- People listen to ideas – they don’t dismiss them they write them down.
- People validate the ideas of others by bringing them back up and referencing the person by name (Bill said this earlier …)
- Instead of interrupting they ask, may I interject if it won’t knock you off your train of thought?
- Would anyone else like to step up to the whiteboard?
- We don’t have time to finish this discussion – but it is a good one. How about 1 pm tomorrow to finish this…
- we’ve never done that here in the past – we should investigate that.
Communication – the art of listening.
– more later!
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