Friday, April 15, 2011

Being Human

* A young lady at one of my favorite establishments has a problem. She is inelegant in her communication.
* A fellow I know is so linear in his thinking that he cannot seem to form a direct sentence.
* A guy who manages one of my favorite watering holes is constantly indirectly offending people.
* My friend is hyper-focused on his goals, but when he explains them, his intensity presents negativity.
* Every time I ask a co-worker for something, he explains to me why it's not his fault.

Do you struggle to find the right things to say?
Do you have trouble articulating your point with out footnoting every thought?
Do you lean on catch phrases to transition thought?

The mastery of Communication is the most difficult Human characteristic. There is no such thing as communication expertise. Public Speaking, Negotiation, and Conflict Resolution are all points of emphasis in Communication courses. You have to walk before you can run.

We often fail in pursuit of Elegant Communication because we concentrate on all the wrong things. If you give great speeches, but cannot hold a conversation, you are putting the cart before the horse!

Let's start from the beginning by remember a few very simple Human Interaction techniques:
Eliminate A, Um, So, and Ya Know
Stop framing your language
Be direct
Honor Silence

Ummm, Ummm, Ummm
It's conference season where we will listen to hundreds of well-intentioned speakers. The content is what draws us in, the delivery is what redirects us to the exit.

I make a practice of counting ummms. I once saw a man tally 520 umms in a 45 minute speech. True Story! Ummm is a verbalized thought segue way. Between thoughts it is natural to grasp for a thought stop gap. Keep it to yourself.

You can replace ummm with a tap of your foot or a second of silence between thoughts. Ummmm's happen in meetings, on conference calls, in speeches, in interviews, and while you are trying to pick up chicks. No matter how good your content....if you ummm you destroy your credibility.

At the end of the day.....
Here are a collection of uninventive phrases that serve as lazy thought transitions:
At the end of the day
It is what it is
Throw me under the bus

These phrases are usually used by people who are well rehearsed in their language delivery.....and that's not always a good thing. People lose interest in these fast talking techniques because they convey that you are trying to establish credibility without earning it....and that's never a good thing.

Slow down your delivery, listen and treat every conversation as a unique entity. If you replicate the same mission statement to everyone you meet, you will be consistently cast away as inauthentic. Your conversation should be rooted in thought and unique to each individual you engage.

Think in Bullet Point
I know a guy who is of superior intelligence. He can program network continuity that can make any system simple to use. The programming process is extremely detailed. His inherent programming traits work on computers but not on people. His conversation starts with a point in mind and trails off into mundane detail. Programming is about exploring all possible conclusions, conversation is not. In communication you have to make a choice, make a point, and allow it to resonate.

Golden Silence
I was in a meeting with a Young Lady a few days back. She was determined to impress us. She did not stop talking the entire meeting. She did not allow us to ask questions, give feedback or interact. It was a one way street to 'not hired'.

There seems to be a human condition to fill space...a feeling that all silence is uncomfortable. In fact, many people like to digest information and think through their response before opening their mouth. Of course, no one likes a dead beat and sometimes you have to carry a conversation. But, you are far better served listening than talking...that's why God gave you two ears and one mouth.

Mastering Communication is an ongoing process. No one is a perfect communicator. If you start by focusing on the simple things on a small stage you can hone your skills and up your game when the chips are down.

Don't Forget to Remember!


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