The Communicator

Once a boy who spoke with a stutter, was brought to a speech therapist. The boy was so embarrassed with his condition that he had lost all confidence in his ability to communicate and thus had stopped to try.

Realizing that the boy did not lack physical resources but mental framework the therapist decided to give him a quick primer on communication as a skill.

Dear boy, he started, do you know good communication has two aspects and that it is not a random walk down the verbal lane. It has a definite structure to it which can be learnt and mastered.
No Sir, I do not know that, the boy stuttered with some effort.
Firstly on the two aspects, the therapist started, they are internal and external. In internal communication you communicate with your subconscious and it communicates back and second part obviously is when you speak to others. When I say external communication, I mean in a one to one interaction, as oratory is another skill set that I will talk about, in some later session.

Now realize that internal communication happens non verbally and largely in symbols and visuals. Dreams are when your subconscious communicates to you, and by visualizations and vivid imagination you can communicate to your subconscious. So unless the visuals are flickering your internal communication is not effected by your small speech impediment.

Now lets talk about external communication. Most people still have what I call, the explain and tell illusion (ETI) about communication. They believe if they can speak lucidly about something they are good communicators. However this is as far from the truth as Uranus is from the sun.

Firstly most communication that we humans do (almost 90% as some estimates say is non verbal or in our body language and postures).

Secondly even on verbal communication, it is only 25% about speaking to explain. 50% of it is just listening and balance 25% is about asking the right questions which leads the conversation. So tie a knot around the fact that the primary skill of a good communicator is listening and not speaking. Unfortunately these days we have to go and pay to psychotherapists to make them listen to us.

Thirdly while speaking; the art is not in words but in unbundling of the message. Let me explain this with an example. Say you are giving a presentation to 12 people (I know it is public speaking but bear with me as the principles of communication are largely the same). Once it is over and if you poll the people for their takeaways, normally you will find all 12 attendees recounting different things. This is essentially botched communication. Unless you have one central message which you keep reinforcing again and again and make your audience memorize it through a catchy slogan or emotional overtones you have failed as a communicator. They are taking away from your communication not what you intended them to but what caught their fancy.

Lastly the holy grail of communication is action of the other person. If you have given the message effectively, that is they remember it exactly and yet it does not produce the desired action you have still failed as a communicator. You will have to go back and check the truth, context or framing of your message.

So my dear boy, cheer up as you clear the misconception in your mind that communication is not what you speak but it is the response that you get.

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