“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”-George Bernard Shaw
Communication is perhaps most under-rated aspect of human personality. It can’t be valued high enough, if you have any wish to succeed in life. Whether it is your family, friends, significant other, bosses, suppliers, customers, prospects, investors, partners, strangers, doctors; or even one’s own self in front of mirror or in bed waiting for sleep – communication is something no one can escape from.
With regards to business, Communication should not be supposed to be limited to office documents and presentations, informal communication channels often play a far more vital role:
“Science may never come up with a better office communication system than office break”-Earl Wilson
We bring you some friendly advice on the subject and here are some of the tips to start the effective communication in the workplace:
Do you have buck teeth, cut lip, a face like a black mouse or worse still one like mine? So what? Smile. Smile all your hellos and byes. Smiles all your thankyous and sorries. You shall get more out of me with a single smile than with all your words otherwise. It is as they say in China: “Don’t open a shop if you don’t know how to smile.”
There are no successful courters, salespersons or kings who didn’t understand the importance of listening. It is a well known wisdom that of four activities of communication – speaking, listening, reading and writing; the leaders of biggest organizations spend most of their time listening. Listening is not the involuntary reception of sound by ears – the word for that is ‘hearing’. Listening is something more deliberate and far less done.
There is no cheaper way to gain information – and yet, listening is taken far more lightly than it should be. Aren’t we all suffering from short-attention-span syndrome?
In fact, this is my observation that often the people who think of themselves as excellent orators – people who claim to be excellent at debates – the loud-mouths and know-it-alls who will tell you that they never have lost a debate or have never been proven wrong; are often the worst communicators, for they are terrible at listening. Aren’t the debate-rooms always noisiest – everyone is shouting and no one is listening?
Remember communication is a two way process. The men, you want to learn from, may not be bound by duty to be best orators – and yet they know something which they are offering. It is your fault if you fail to make most of what they are saying.
Listen to understand, not to reply; Listen to what is said, what is implied and what remains unsaid.
Pay attention not only to the words, but also to the passion which excites the speaker. Unless you can feel that same excitement, passion, emotions or motives in your blood – you have failed as a listener.
Give cues to speaker by nodding or other physical gestures to show you are paying attention – put those head phones and that book you are reading away, and show respect to the speaker. Here are the 10 Most Valuable Online Business Startup Ideas of India who listened to their customers and now they are the growing enormous.
- Ask Questions
There is no teacher like curiosity and, no limits to one not afraid of asking questions. Also, this is a power you hold even on the most powerful people of the world – that of asking them questions. The most learned love to be questioned –they take it as a challenge and the others don’t deserve the attention. They may not answer, may be your question is silly and you shall be laughed at, but the only way you lose in the long run is when you failed to ask the question.
- Read, read, read
You know what Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Shahrukh Khan have in common? They all love reading. Reading is to brain what pushups is to body – an exercise that builds up and strengthen it.
Now, you tell me that you are a back-bencher and I heard you. I’m too – and probably far more stubborn at that than you are but that doesn’t mean you should stay away from books. A good back-bencher is not one who hates reading – the right position for such people is in the middle rows; the best of back-benchers are ones who read what they wish to read, at the time when they wish to read it.
Nerds and back-benchers are not opposite words – biggest nerds like Einstein were also most disapproving of schools much like us, back-benchers. No, the opposite of back benchers are sychophants.
Do not confuse education and reading with what they do at schools and colleges. And remember Bill Gates said:
“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”
Also, remember the order – reading, listening, writing, and speaking. This order is such that an improvement in one of these skills will improve the ones that follow it (assuming some working knowledge in subsequent skills to star with). And so improving your listening skill improves your writing and speaking skills. This also means improving the reading skill will add to all the other skills.
One of the best monarch that this country ever had, Jaluluddin Akbar hated school so much that he remained an illiterate all his life. He would regret it all his life – and loved listening to the works he couldn’t read and was always surrounded by some of most learned people of the planet.
Try to be diverse in your reading – people of one book are often worse than people of no books. Don’t avoid bigger works – the returns are far higher in proportion to time invested. And no, watching the movie is not the same.
- Dress professionally
Okay I’m a poor dresser myself – but I know it as a weakness and if I was to present you a new idea for my work in person, I would try to dress well. The first impressions are formed within first seven seconds – and more often than not are the last impressions.
No, that doesn’t mean that you have to be Leonardo DiCaprio or Angelina Jolie; remember Adolf Hitler? Almost a dwarf with a funny face – and yet he was the best orator of last century. He was also the most disgusting person – still, let us give the devil his due. I’m yet to see a picture of him without that army dress.
So dress professionally, wear a wrist watch and have a decent hair cut. Remember the old saying – dress to impress, eat to be pleased. This is true everywhere and it provides you the confidence for effective communication in the workplace.
- Body Gestures
On an average, as much as seventy percent of the communication is done through body gestures, there is a reason we prefer video conferences to phone calls – and yet, it is often the most ignored aspect of communication.
Lean forward and nod while listening to show you are paying attention. Always look into other person’s eyes. Stare – as if you are about to steal their souls. As we have said before, smile – and smile some more. And remember – a message given through body gestures is received subconsciously, and so is much harder to ignore or reject – the best way to act by stealth.
Quick question: who is best orator of contemporary India? No, not Narendar Modi, definitely not Rahul Gandhi, not even Ravi Shastri – but, yes, Kapil Sharma. What they say about girls is true about all of us in general – nothing increases your chances as laughter does. Aren’t the commercials you remember most are so often the ones that make you laugh?
If you can make me laugh, you can make me care. There may be some who will argue that too many jokes shows you are not serious enough. I think the truth is opposite – if you can’t joke about it, you haven’t worked on it hard enough. Familiarity brings lightness and lightness breads humor.
And please don’t take it to be an opportunity to tell your ‘knock knock’ jokes – laughter is best when unexpected and such jokes need a buildup which develops expectations. And, yes, no jokes about your wives, the biggest principle that you need to remember in this regard is to laugh with people not at them. Wait for them to laugh or smile, you win – yes, even if they do so merely out of pity but, you see, they are involved.
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- Aim to delight
If you satisfy your audience, they will remember you when they next need you; if you delight your audience, they will remember you all the time – and even tell their friends. What Walt Disney said is also true about communication:
“Do what you do so well that they want to see it again and bring their friends.”
The biggest product launches of our time have come from Apple Inc. by Steve Jobs. He would always end with a sentence beginning ‘And one more thing’ reserving the most delightful feature of the product being launched for the end – this habit came to be the most anticipated thing about his launches over time – provoking applause and laughter. Apple is one of the multi million companies that started in a garage.
- Pictures please
Anyone can stick together a few bullet points and make a power point presentation. Brain only follows where heart will take it – and heart doesn’t normally like those written words on a large screen, especially if you have to see them on a daily basis. There is a reason they are called bullets!
A picture is worth a thousand words – a smile ten thousand. If bullets are the tradition, so far better is your chance to delight your audience by providing something that breaks away from boring tradition. Pictures – and relevant pictures are what you should look for.
- Know your audience
You can’t make the same sale pitch to a poet, a philosopher, politician and painters – and expect to succeed. In fact, our experience with politicians tell us that orators, that are most successful with masses, are often terrible with bureaucrats and intellectuals – masses tend to take form for the content. You can’t use the same language with technicians, customers and investors. Using difficult to understand Jargon doesn’t make you look cool – and you fail at what you were supposed to do – to communicate. As
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t know it yourself.”
And, oh, one more thing –
Be Hard on yourself
“Communication works for those who work at it.”-John Powell
While you should be easy with other party’s limitations, be hard on yourself. Use of strong language has been proved to be a sign of weakness. Make music with your words – and blame yourself for every word wrongly put just as a singer would do upon missing a note. Don’t be loud – music is never too loud, noise is. Practice what you want to say, proofread what you write. Most of your audience will won’t give you second chance – make sure that the first is enough. You must avoid these 11 Mistakes to that eventually led to a bad Startup
“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At first gate ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’
At the second ask ‘Is it necessary’
At third ask ‘Is it kind?’
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