The fool talks. The wise man listens. So goes the adage. What it tells us is that there is much more to learn by listening and observing than expressing. How many times have we met that one odd person who just listened wholeheartedly and made us feel so nice as we did all the talking?
So the first step to a good conversation is to be able to listen with undivided attention, to make the other person express thoughts freely, to be able to paraphrase and grasp the exact essence of the communique. Once this is achieved, we’re most likely to enjoy and purposeful, enjoyable and energizing conversation ourselves.
Then comes the actual communicating bit. Is it all about a fabulous vocabulary, accent or the unique gestures that go with speech? In our digital age, is communication primarily about sending that topical email or that cryptic sms that is hip and with the times? And is it all worth it if it doesn’t touch the recipient at the heart?
The key therefore is to communicate from the heart to the heart. And there is more to it than just words. The things we tell the world when we don’t say a word are perhaps more informative than when we do. Ever heard of the term ‘silent communication’?
A frown tells the world you’re concerned, arched eyebrows announce that you’re ready for a fight, the stiff upper lip (apparently perfected by the British) would flaunt your superiority and stoicism, while a firm chin can convince the world of your determination. And that’s just the face we’re talking about mind you!
Drooping shoulders, sweaty palms/ fidgety hands, folded arms, shaking legs… the list can go on and they all say a lot to the other person don’t they? It is popularly called body language and it makes or breaks opportunities than anything else we’ve ever known.
In fact, studies have shown that communication is one of the biggest challenges facing the modern world despite the advancement in the tools for communicating. More friendships are broken, more families are torn apart, more jobs are lost and more deals come unstuck because of incorrect/lack of communication. The challenges are far greater within the workspace than anywhere else because of differences in culture, language, religions, perspectives, hierarchies etc But it is not separate from what happens outside. We carry the habits and experiences of our family/ social lives to work and vice-versa. That’s why it is all the more important to consciously practice our learnings at every moment, irrespective of the situation or audience.
After all, communication brings life into relationships and brings people closer. It helps rebuild broken bonds just like it creates new ones while throwing up opportunities. Relationships need investing in. And that investment comes though communication, be it sharing a thought or listening to feedback, opinions and perspectives. It is never truer than in the context of leadership where one needs to constantly communicate to various audiences using various means. A lack of communication leads to a breakdown in relationship which leads to a loss of leadership.
That is why if you want to make any organization work, communication is key. How information and feedback is passed around matters more than most other things because information affects the way people act and behave. Eventually it affects the way they work and hence the way the organization grows.