The Art of Communication
Do you find it easy to communicate with others? Or, do you get nervous when you’re speaking to strangers? For some people, being able to talk to people is second nature, and for others, it can feel like a daunting task. Communication is an integral part of human relationships yet talking plays only a small part when it comes to being able to communicate successfully. Communication was the theme for our September Colcannon Connection event held at Cosby Golf Club in Leicestershire.
Do you REALLY know how well you communicate?
What makes a good communicator? The way we communicate has an impact on the way we are perceived by others. Our communication style can vary in terms of how we interact at work and at home, and it will be affected by our environment and cultural background. Whether we’re in the office or with our family, it’s important to figure out how well you’re communicating and whether this is effective. Otherwise, you could be having a negative impact on others.
Extroverts vs Introverts
There is a tendency to divide people into two groups - extroverts and introverts. At our event, I carried out a quick exercise to try and spot obvious extroverts around the room – and guess what? Most of these people were sat at the same table! So, I got them all to stand up and decide how they were going to disperse themselves evenly across the room. After we created a balance of extroverts and introverts, I asked the room whether they always felt as either one or the other. Some people are introverts in their working lives but then become extroverts when they’re at home, especially if they’re parents. Some of us stay being extroverts whatever the weather! Do you relate to any of these?
More confident in the working environment, but quieter when at home.
Naturally shy but an extrovert at work, i.e. when facilitating training sessions.
Assertive at work, i.e. a solicitor or senior manager, but more relaxed at home.
Considerate and quieter at work, but assertive at home as a parent.
Same when in work and outside of work!
It’s not clear cut; most of us have extrovert and introvert traits. What we need to decide is whether we’re using the right communication approach, and then adapt this to different situations. Think about how you communicate with your work colleagues compared to how you communicate at home or with your children. Think about how a baby communicates and then learns appropriate behaviour as they get older when they become more socially adaptive. Being a good communicator lies with your ability to be able to adapt to different people.
If you want to become a good communicator, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses, so you can improve your communication style. I gave the group worksheets and an exercise to help them determine their own communication style. This includes a questionnaire and a scorecard with five columns, as follows:
Controlling, dominant, overbearing, forceful, loud – a high score could make you a bully, and too low could mean that you are seen as a pushover.
Caring, nurturing, sympathetic – a high score could mean you’re doing too much for others and too low a score may present you as uncaring and unconcerned about others.
3. Rational, analytical, logical - it’s good to aim for an average score – too high and you could risk sounding cold and robotic.
4. Passive, submissive, compliant, needy – a high score could mean you’re perceived as easy to control and manipulate, and too low could present you as being rude, abrupt or over direct.
5. Uninhibited, natural expression, less control – a high score could mean you’re seen too much as ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ and a low score would indicate that you’re difficult to connect with and ‘closed’.
Those who scored highly in both 1 and 2 will find these traits balance out – the same applies to 4 and 5. It’s important to have a balanced approach, if you want to be perceived as a good communicator.Communication tips – Priscilla Morris, Voice Coach
Priscilla Morris is an internationally known voice coach and is on the panel with LAMDA. After getting the group involved in a series of ‘physical’ voice tests, Priscilla discussed the differences in speech caused by our geographical environment – ‘scone’ being the most common indicator of where in the UK (or Australia in my case!) you’re from. Here’s a few of Priscilla’s hints and tips:
Every time you open your mouth, you will be influencing someone.
When you get it wrong, you risk giving the wrong impression to that person.
Accents can affect your intention - your communication style needs to be positive.
Think about who you have on the phone in your office – are they giving the right impression for your business?
Control your speech by finishing your sentences – aim for clarity by pronouncing each word.
How do you sound when you speak? Ask others for feedback.
Priscilla closed her talk with this gem: “Talk may be cheap, but your voice is priceless”
How well do you communicate with others? Consider your own communication style and reflect on how you can improve the way you communicate.
Next Concannon Connection event
Our next event will be on 19 October 2018 at Chutney Ivy, Leicester, and the theme will be “time management”. If you’ve been to one of my events in the past, you know the rules - it’s free to attend, but I always ask that you bring someone along with you. This could be your best friend or your brother - it really doesn’t matter. To keep our events fresh, we like to see new faces at every event. To find out more about our Concannon Connection events, Business Club, or our Workshop designed for directors, please