(This is the first post in a 3-part series on Communication. Watch for “Communication that gets Results” and “Improving your Communication Skills” in the next two posts.)
What does it Mean to Communicate?
Communication, by definition, is the flow of information between people. Simple, right? But it’s more than simply words passing from mouths to ears. True communication encompasses all the processes by which people influence each other, making the entire issue of communication a complex, sometimes tricky, endeavor.
In part one of this series, we’ll examine how three types of communication impact the workplace:
- Verbal – information that passes over the phone or in person
- Non-verbal – cues like facial expressions, body stance, and tone of voice
- Listening – ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process
Effective verbal or oral communication demands that you understand the power of words, and how word choice must vary from setting to setting, from event to event. Take the airline industry for example. Their carefully chosen words are meant to calm rather than instill panic. They consciously chose to say “flotation device” rather than “life preserver”; no mention of a “barf bag” rather a “motion discomfort bag” is available; the plane may experience “mechanical difficulty” but it is not “broken”. You get the picture.
Also consider volume which can show great energy or a total lack of enthusiasm and inflection which puts emphasis on the most important part of your message.
Words may lead the way, but it’s non-verbal communication that goes the distance.
“What you say is a vital part of any communication. But what you don’t say can be even more important. Research also shows that 55% of in-person communication comes from nonverbal cues like facial expressions, body stance, and tone of voice. According to one study, only 7% of a Receiver’s comprehension of a Message is based on the Sender’s actual words; 38% is based on paralanguage (the tone, pace, and volume of speech), and 55% is based on nonverbal cues (body language).“
It’s essential that non-verbal communication reinforce your message, not contradict it. If your words say one thing, but your body language goes a different direction, you listener may feel you’re being dishonest. Enhance your verbal communication with the use of open body language—arms uncrossed, standing with an open stance or sitting on the edge of your seat, and maintaining eye contact.
Very possibly the most important facet of communication involves only the ears and the brain. It’s crucial to understand that listening is not the same as hearing.
“Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus. Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.”
Those seeking to improve their listening skills—and that should be all us—would do well to remember the words of Mark Twain:
“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.”
Listening without interruption, while observing body language, is the best way to connect with another person. Giving your undivided attention assures the speaker you are making an effort to truly grasp what is being said. When the speaker is finished, it’s good to clarify to insure you did indeed understand the message.
Understanding and putting into practice the various components of effective communication will make you better at your job whatever position you hold.
B Loehr Staffing takes time to communicate with clients and field associates. We listen to your needs, and then connect you with the best fit. Contact B. Loehr Staffing for all of your hiring and employment needs.