MASTERING THE ART OF COMMUNICATION
is your door to financial wealth, loving relationships, and all that is good in life. is the most talked about and least understood area of human behavior.
Our ability to communicate in so many modes is unique to humans on earth.
People who do not have the ability to speak can be wonderful communicators. The loss of one or two senses certainly can impair communication, but it does not have to stop communication.
Effective communication is rarely taught and even more rarely learned in our society. What follows is an outline of a few of the many keys to mastering the art of communication. Superior communication skills are unquestionably vital to living a life by your own design.
BASIC COMPONENTS OF COMMUNICATION
Interpersonal communication includes at least the following elements:
- A transmitter. Someone who wants to “send” a message verbally or non-verbally to someone else.
- A receiver. Someone who will “receive” a message from another person.
- A message. Information in some form.
- Noise. Anything that interferes or causes the deletion, distortion or generalization of the exact replication of information being transmitted from the mind of the transmitter to the mind of the receiver.
- Feedback. Both the sender and receiver constantly elicit verbal and nonverbal feedback to the other person.
- Replication. The duplication of understanding in one person that is in the mind of another person. Replication is an approximate goal and philosophically not perfectly possible, though desired.
- Understanding. An approximation of what the message means to the sender by the receiver.
Excellent communication is the ability to transmit a message by the sender to a receiver and have that message replicated in the receiver’s mind. Excellent communication is the ability to receive a transmitted message by the sender and have the receiver be able to replicate the form and intent of the message in the receiver’s mind. If the receiver is uncertain about some aspect of a communication, it is the responsibility of the receiver to clarify the communication through the artful use of questions. The transmitting communicator also accepts the responsibility for the result of a communication. This means the transmitter must be certain to code a communication so it is received in a manner that is understandable to the receiver.
All of this is of no consequence if a person is uncomfortable in the communication process to begin with.
Do you ever feel uncomfortable communicating with people in “one on one” setting? If so, you will benefit from the following exercises which are designed to help ease discomfort in one on one situations. Please ask a friend to help you.
INTRODUCTORY INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION EXERCISES
Sit across from your partner at a distance of 18-48 inches. For two minutes you must both sit in silence. You must look at your partner for the entire two minute period. You succeed in this exercise if you are able to keep your eyes on your partner for the entire two minutes. It is not important if your partner maintains eye contact with you. It is only important that you look the entire two minutes at the other person’s face or eyes without moving your glance to anything else.
When you have your partner’s approval for completing this exercise you may move to the closure exercise below.
Sit across from your partner at a distance of 18-48 inches. You will ask your partner to look at various objects or locations in the room until you have asked your partner to look at a total of 20 objects. After your partner looks at each of these objects, you will say, “thank you.” Once your partner has looked at twenty objects, your partner will tell you that you have successfully accomplished this exercise designed to teach you to close cycles of communication.
With your partner’s approval you may move to the next exercise.
Sit across from your partner at a distance of 18-48 inches. In this exercise, you will sit and listen to your partner attempt to harm you emotionally with his words. He has two minutes to go on a verbal rampage against you. He can say anything he wants, using any tone of voice he wants. His objective is to get you to argue or disagree with him. You successfully accomplish this exercise if you remain silent during the entire two minute time period and maintain eye or face contact without looking away. If you laugh or talk, you must start over.
At the end of the two minutes, thank your partner and make sure he knows that this was your exercise and that you know what he said was designed by you, to help you. He meant no harm. You asked him to do this exercise to help you deflect the verbal abuses of others. With your partner’s approval you may move on to the final exercise to help you in confrontational communications.
Answer my question
Sit between 18 and 48 inches across from your partner. Ask them a specific question.
- “Do dogs meow?”
You are going to say, “thank you,” when your partner answers you with “no.” However the partner can choose not to respond, change the subject or ask you the question back instead of answering your question with a no. Your partner may do this four times for each of these four questions. He must give you a straight “no” answer on or before the fifth time you ask, “do dogs meow.”
You succeed if you only say, “Do dogs meow?” after each non-responsive answer and when you say “thank you” to the correct answer to the question.
The other three questions are these:
- “Are mailmen all women?”
- “Do birds eat sharks?”
- “Can you walk on water?”
The correct answer to all the questions is “no,” and you must eventually elicit a no response from your partner. You may only use the words in the original question. This is how you succeed. No time limit is necessary, but each question should take no more than two minutes.
The purpose of this exercise is to teach you to remain focused on the goal of your communication and your ability to ask the same question after it has been ignored or a new direction has been taken by your partner.
When these exercises are completed, have your partner express his or her true feelings about you, to you. If anything he said still has you upset, make certain you discuss this now with your partner.
These exercises teach you to communicate and maintain your composure easily and effectively in difficult situations. Having mastered these difficult exercises you will be ready to move toward the macro level of interpersonal communication.
OUTCOME BASED THINKING
When effectively participating in interpersonal communication, a key element on your part is that of outcome based thinking. Outcome based thinking entails knowing what your objective is before entering into a task, communication or project. It is not always necessary to consciously use outcome based thinking in interpersonal communication. There are many times that it is simply nice to ‘be’ with someone. In these cases it is often far more enjoyable to remain non-directive.
When do you use outcome based thinking (OBT)? You will use OBT when you are negotiating anything. You will normally use OBT when you are in problem solving and/or task oriented communication. Whenever you want or need something you will use OBT. You will almost always use OBT when you are at work or in your business setting.
How do you use OBT for effective thinking and effective communicating? By providing yourself with a road map that allows you to know where you are going is the first step. I’ve often said that, “once you know where you are and where you are going, it’s relatively easy to get there.”
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT WHEN COMMUNICATING.
It is difficult to effectively communicate if you do not know what you want in the communication. Living life by design means that you are empowering your life with true purpose and mission.
OBT starts at the macro level, then works its way to the micro level. As you live a designer’s life, you begin to notice how most of what you do is within the larger context of your mission and purpose in life. The process of OBT is detailed below. Think of an upcoming event, appointment or situation where you will hope to effectively communicate with someone. Once you have something specific in mind, integrate that situation into the model below.
OUTCOME BASED THINKING MODEL
- What precisely do I want out of the process?
- What does the other person want? If I don’t know, what are they likely to want?
- What is the least I will accept out of the process?
- What problems could come up in the process?
- How will I deal with each one, and if possible, use the problem as a BENEFIT for the other person?
- How will I bring the process to a conclusion?
You can use this model when you are negotiating the purchase of a new home. It’s also simple enough to integrate into daily life communications with your life partner, children and friends. Excellence in communication often follows the discovery of your fellow communicator’s values. This model allows you to more thoughtfully structure whatever message you are preparing to “give.” By actually taking the time to think through this process in a step by step fashion, you become more comfortable in expressing your feelings, thoughts, and emotions with others. Similarly, it makes you very aware of what others needs and wants, or more simply, values are.
Everyone has values but values differ from person to person. Even when people have the same values, they can differ greatly in their hierarchy. Two people may each have health and love as extremely important values. One of the people may have love as the most important value, the other could have health. This seemingly small differentiation can in and of itself mold different personalities. Learning the key values of other people is therefore tantamount to being an effective communicator.
Discovering the values of others can be accomplished by using the values determination model below. A few simple questions of your fellow communicator will help you learn what is truly important to them. It is interesting to note that values are context-dependent. In other words, what is important to someone in a love relationship may have a different value in a business relationship. These differences are accounted for in the model below as you will notice.
VALUES DETERMINATION MODEL
- “What is most important thing to you about X?” (Buying a house, choosing a restaurant to eat at, your job, etc.)
- How do you know when you have gotten X? (How do you know when you are happy? How do you know that you have the right house? How do you know that you have gotten a good deal on buying a car? etc.)
- What’s the next most important thing to you about X?
- What else is important to you about X?
Until then, here are a few more distinctions that can make a difference for you now!
It is probably fair to say that most people enjoy talking about themselves. This is one reason the values determination model is so effective. You are asking people about their most highly valued feelings and thoughts. This is an excellent way to augment the development of rapport in communication. Rapport is the perceived affinity between two or more people.
Rapport is the perceived affinity between two or more people.
The ability to build and maintain rapport in communication is one of the key skills of a master communicator. One of the greatest examples of rapport building is found in the New Testament. Notice how the apostle Paul uses rapport to prepare his listeners for what he wants to communicate to them.
The setting is this: Paul is in Athens, Greece. Athens has a largely pagan culture. The city is filled with idols and temples to mythological gods. As a Jew, this is repugnant to Paul. Some of the local philosophers have challenged Paul to a debate. They bring him to the infamous Mars Hill. It is here that we pick up Paul’s communication mastery…
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious.” (This immediately breaks their skeptical pattern of thinking and creates an instant bridge for Paul to metaphorically walk on.)
“…for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.”
(Paul uses his persuasive communication skills brilliantly. The altar is one of THEIR objects of worship. The God he wants to discuss is one of THEIR gods. He is not going to talk about some new god!)
“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” (God MADE the world, he tells them. He’s OBVIOUSLY much too BIG to live in a human temple!)
Paul continues his discourse, explaining that God gives us life, our breath, and a place to live. He explain that God needs nothing from us.
“…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of YOUR OWN POETS HAVE SAID, ‘For we are also his offspring.”
“Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.”
Paul once again maintains rapport by returning to citing the Greeks authorities. Building rapport is one step. Maintaining rapport and bridging into the message you wish to tell is another.
“Truly, these times of IGNORANCE God overlooked, but NOW commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man he has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Paul has reached the crux of his message and has held the attention of his audience. It was the rapport that Paul built with the antagonistic philosophers that is the key to his successful communication here.
Rapport is much more than verbal compliments of course. It is the non-verbal behavior that is involved as well. (Non-verbal behavior that enhances the building of rapport can be found in my book,
CLOSURE IN COMMUNICATION
The ability to politely and effectively close a cycle of communication is a skill that more people need to become adept at. Closure is the ability to acknowledge the other person, say “thank you” to the other person or confirm that what was said was understood. Closure is the final step in any segment or cycle of communication. You have experienced communication that did not “end.” Someone walked out of a room, hung up the phone, switched subjects in mid-conversation without explaining why, etc.
When complete cycles of communication are not accomplished, it leaves the person with tremendous frustration and often anger. You can always be certain to have closure in communication by acknowledging that you have heard and understood what a person has said to you. It is not necessary to agree with someone if you are not prepared to. It is necessary to close each cycle of communication.
Tape record the following Image-Creation to experience a presentation or speech you will make, in advance. Listen to the Image-Creation before making your presentation.
Image-Creation # 6 An Award Winning Speech
Find a quiet and calm environment. Sit or lay down in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath and release it.
Go out into the future and imagine a time when someone asks you to come and give a speech on the secrets of success as you know them and have applied them in your life to get where you are at this future stage of your life.
As you give this speech, listen to the applause. Notice the smiling faces in the audience. Carefully observe what the members of your audience are wearing. What does the room smell like? What is the temperature like in the room?
Listen to the sound of your voice as you speak.
Be certain that you are looking through your eyes as the speaker as you give this speech.
As you close your speech, observe the audience give you a standing ovation. Meet the people in the front row. Shake their hands and thank them for caring so much about you and what you had to say.
Confirm for the people you talk to after the speech that they too can be successful if they will simply design their own life. As you feel the most enthusiastic and exhilarated you may return to now.
Take a few deep breaths and open your eyes when you are ready.
Once your eyes are open, remember the most exciting and exhilarating moment of the speech and squeeze your middle finger. You are anchoring these feelings and this accomplishment to your middle finger.
BECOME FASCINATED BY WHAT OTHERS CAN SHARE WITH YOU.
Most people seem to try to be interesting when they should be interested. The truly successful communicator is a curious person. He wants to know more about other people. She is truly fascinated by what other people can share with them. You may sincerely wonder how you could be interested in some people. If what interests them doesn’t interest you, then discover how they became interested in what they are interested in. In other words, if you don’t like fishing and someone you’re communicating with does, find out how they became so excited about fishing. What experiences do they have that started this fascination.
By making others feel special, they will feel that you are special.
Attend an online e-course with Kevin Hogan!
Learn about Kevin Hogan’s Internet Marketing & Business Building E-Course