George Bernard Shaw once wrote that “the single biggest problem in
communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
In August of this year, I had the privilege of taking the Fundamentals of Communication class held by Skyline Technology Solutions in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The course was a jam-packed two days but from it I gained an enhanced perspective on the importance of effective communication and terminologies. Here are a few of my greatest takeaways and tips:
Paradigm vs. Paradox
A paradigm is one way of looking at things. A paradox is when we see two things that are both true but appear to be in conflict. Take the image on the right for example. What do you see? I first saw the old woman... however, after focusing and drawing away from my assumptions and generalizations, I saw a young woman looking off into the distance. So which is true? Well, they both are and that is the power of a paradox.
Have you ever experienced a paradox in the workplace? Perhaps you have your way of looking at a situation but there’s another side to every story.
Diversity of Perspective
Take a moment to think of the experiences you’ve had this year. Now think about the experiences you’ve had throughout your entire life. Our experiences shape us, they can divide us if we allow our differences to do so, or they can pull us together as we draw from an enhanced understanding of one another.
‘How often do you factor these differences into your interactions with others?’
Unless you have a deep understanding of the individual you’re talking to, it’s likely that you don’t factor their experiences into your interactions. While we can’t be expected to know the background of every individual we speak to, if you want to communicate effectively, it’s important to consider the differences and frame your message in an appropriate manner.
“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.
we listen to reply.” –Stephen R. Covey
The Knowledge Pie
Take a moment to think about ALL of the information that is in the world today. There are hundreds upon thousands of career fields with experts in different subjects and yet there is still so much to be discovered. Take a look at the image on the right. That tiny little sliver is still likely an exaggerated representation of everything you know in comparison to everything known to mankind.
Now this representation isn’t to degrade the things you know, rather to bring light to the things you don’t. Think of it this way… there’s still so much to learn. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be hesitant to acknowledge gaps in your conclusions, and next time you hastily respond with “I already know,” ask yourself if you really do.
Be an expert in all that you can but recognize that different perspectives can allow us to dig deeper and find information we didn’t think to seek.
Shared Definitions/Common Sense
I began to understand the concept of shared definitions when I began my full time position with NorthStar Express. While I understood the importance of them at the time, it wasn’t until the Fundamentals of Communication class that it all fell into perspective… Shared definitions minimize excuses by means of a common understanding of expectations and enhance productivity through focused synergy.
Often a need for shared definitions is found through exhausting common sense. How would you define ‘Common Sense’?
The applied definition of ‘Common Sense’ is ‘good sense and sound judgment in practical situations.’ What’s wrong with that definition? Well, sound and good judgment is subjective, see the assumption here is we think everyone thinks like us but they don’t. Therefore, common sense isn’t very “common” after all.
The way we should define common sense is Shared Logic. Through shared definitions, understandings, and expectations we transition from trying to find people who understand you, to those you can build an understanding with.
The Golden Circle
If you’ve read the book Find Your Why by Simon Sinek, you’re probably familiar with the Golden Circle. If you haven’t, let me tell you a little trick about creating value in your life and even your work.
Martin Luther King’s speech on the Lincoln Memorial drew a crowd of over 250,000 people from across the world in a time where social media was nonexistent and publicizing events was limited. That speech was titled ‘I have a dream’. Do you think it would’ve been as inspirational and captivating if it was titled ‘I have a plan’?
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” And that is exactly what Sinek captures through his book, Find Your Why. So often we go through life and as we get into the 9-5 grind, we forget why we’re doing what we do and simply just do. Take a moment and think to yourself- What motivates you? What are you passionate about? And are you incorporating those things into the position you have right now? I feel this life is WAY too short to not incorporate your passions into the things you do. And it’s not just you. Millions of Americans and even organizations don’t know WHY they do what they do. You see, the ‘WHY isn’t about making money. That’s a result. WHY is a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the very reason your organization exists’; it’s the very reason that YOU exist.
Have a belief, a purpose. Work for a purpose, not a paycheck.
And don’t let fear govern your decisions.
“We make our habits and then our habits make us.”
At the end of the day, you’re going to either make a positive change in your life or stick to your old ways. No one except yourself can take responsibility for your actions… accumulate good habits & before you know it, your habits will become your behavior.