This article is the first in a series dealing with Communication as a Contact Sport.
“All the world’s a stage,and all the men and women merely players.”
What a profound statement made by William Shakespeare in his play AS YOU LIKE IT.
On our world stage, players play at a number of games, one of which is the sport of communication in which the player can decide to either make contact and be an active participant or disengage and simply be a spectator. There are both positive and negative consequences for each.
First of all, players need to recognize that nature has equipped them to make contact with three essential communication modes:
- Words or Verbal Contact: the vocabulary of their culture which aims to relay the content of the message or interaction.
- Tone of Voice or Vocal Contact: the accompanying sounds to add more meaning to words.
- Body Language or Visual Contact: the visible physical expression that may or may not accompany the words and tone of voice.
If Words attempt to convey the content, in this case referred to as the scope of meaning trying to be conveyed, then the Tone of Voice and Body Language aim at relating the context or the set of circumstances or situations that surround the particular event. Keep in mind that people tend to pay attention more to what they see than what they hear. Maurice Blondel, a French philosopher stated: “If you really want to understand a man, don’t just listen to what he says, but watch what he does.”
So if one choses to be an active participant on this interpersonally connected world stage, what are the main communication contact points? The first contact usually begins with Listening which is much more than just hearing. It’s the learned skill of Interactive Listening, meaning you interact with the other person by clarifying and confirming to fully understand the content and context of the message.
Another essential communication contact point is initiating the two phase process of Feedback. One phase is providing feedback and the second is soliciting or asking for feedback on whatever performance is in play. Ken Blanchard, a respected source on leadership states that “Feedback is the breakfast of Champions.”
A third communication punch can be delivered by a person learning how and when to take personal Accountability for their behavior or results rather than offering excuses or blame.
A true communication champion should know the skill of building the element of Trust in both their personal and workplace lives. Applied effectively, Four essential trust behaviors result in producing a feeling of being comfortable, relaxed and unguarded enough around another person, to openly and sincerely share information without the fear of being judged or put down.
Trust is widely accepted as forming the cornerstone of every relationship that paves the way to two other interpersonal punches – Rapport and Goodwill. Rapport is the ability to develop a
commonality in any relationship and leads to igniting a recognition of Goodwill evidenced by a kindly feeling displayed by approval, support and willingness to collaborate in dealing with either interpersonal aspects or task related items.
The value in all of this is not only can one become a better person, but good communication can also serve to accelerate one’s career.