Communicating effectively is an art. There are three myths regarding effective communicating:
MYTH # 1 Talking a lot … loud … fast
The ability to talk does not mean you can communicate effectively. People, according to research, think that by speaking louder and faster they are more effective in dealing with people. Some people believe that because they have no problem talking on any topic that makes them great communicators. Usually the exact opposite is true. They may be poor, even terrible communicators. A person is usually perceived as a boring, obnoxious person if they string a lot of words together in a breathless fashion.
MYTH #2 You are born with great communication skills
Effective communicating is a learned skill. It’s like anything else – riding a bike, playing a musical instrument, dancing. With a clear effective learning structure and a strong desire to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of communicating effectively. Extroverts or introverts can absolutely master these skills. Key phrases used frequently can go a long way such as: “You have a good point.” “That makes sense.” “Let’s see what will work for both of us.” There are also phrases that should be avoided like: “You need to do…” “I can’t …” “I’ll try to …” (trying gives you permission to fail or not do your best) “You shouldn’t …” “You must …” (many people do not like being told what to do). Avoid words like “always” and “never”.
MYTH #3 Great knowledge of a subject makes you a great communicator.
Au contraire. Communication requires both a speaker and a listener. When someone is speaking and sharing ideas or thoughts, that person formulates an idea or image they are trying to convey. However, if the person receiving the message does not grasp the words because the thoughts are not clearly articulated, communication suffers a breakdown. According to Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D. a leader and pioneer in the understanding of communications since the 1960s, concluded there are three elements in any direct face-to-face communication: words, tone of voice, and body language.
- WORDS account for only 7% of the message
- TONE OF VOICE accounts for 38% of the message – feelings and attitudes
- BODY LANGUAGE accounts for 55% of the message, especially facial expressions.
For effective communication, all three elements must be congruent and authentic. If you are the listener and you feel the words used were offensive or you disagreed, it may be based on the speaker’s tone of voice or facial expression that may have easily overriden the words. Sarcasm is a turnoff; does not imply authenticity.