Written by Jim Flanagan
A recent column by the National Federation of Independent Business in The Business Journal was entitled “Communication mistakes small businesses must stop making.”
That indicates the importance of communication in business. This series of blogs is dedicated to the improvement of communication in business.
The basic ingredient in improvement of communication is the understanding of the importance of truth and trustworthiness. By being truthful, one earns trustworthiness. In other words, one becomes reliable. As stated by Dale Carnegie and Associates in their “The Leader in You” book: “Communication is based on Trusting Relationships.”
There are six basic elements in the effective communicator’s tool box:
(1) Active Listening, the “pull” of communication;
(2) Verbal Spoken Language, the “push” of communication:
(3) Non-Verbal Tonality of Voice;
(4) Non-Verbal Body Language;
(5) Congruence & Blending of Language; and
(6) Blocks to Communication.
Active Listening. I call this the “pull” of communication because this is where you learn the other party’s interests and values. This is very valuable in avoiding misunderstandings and erroneous assumptions. Stephen R. Covey was fond of saying that 90 percent of what we call conflict is merely misunderstandings, which includes wrong assumptions.
Verbal Spoken Language. I call this the “push” of communication because this is where you get to speak your part, having now understood where the other party stands.
Non-Verbal Tonality of Voice. In conversations, tonality refers to the lower or higher pitch or tone of voice. The higher the pitch or tone, the more impression of anger, which is one letter short of danger.
Non-Verbal Body Language. This is where you listen with your eyes. The importance of this language will be discussed under the Congruence of Language.
Congruence & Blending of Language. There are three main parts to language: verbal, tonality, & body language. Both Sandler Systems and Brian Tracy rate the importance of these three as, respectively: 7 percent, 38 percent, and 55 percent. Obviously, the non-verbal body language greatly outweighs the verbal spoken language. This is why there must be congruence between the two, because if not, then the listener will believe the body language. As for blending of language, you will obviously get along better with another person when you emphasize similarities, particularly in language and style of communication.
Blocks to Communication. Blocks can be perceptions, prejudices, and emotions on the part of either or both parties to a conversation. Henry Ford aptly defined them as: “obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
Next week, we will discuss these elements in the context of the dialogue process with the emphasis on avoiding verbal conflict.
Jim Flanagan is a retired attorney with 44 years of general practice experience and author of “Managing Conflict – Strategies to Create & Teach Resolution of Conflict,” which is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. His website is jimflanagan.biz