Ten Golden Rules of Communication

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

You say, "I am talking, are you listening?"  Maybe not.  Maybe, there were  other things that were competing for my attention at the time you were talking.  Listen to this one, "Had you paid closer attention to what I said, I'm sure you would've understood what I meant."  Don't be so sure.  It depends how clear your communication is.  It is possible that because the listener really paid close attention to what you said, he or she ended up more confused.  

We take communication for granted based on our simplistic assumptions, such as, "If  I say something you must pay close attention," or, "You must understand what I say.  If you don't understand then you are either not listening or you must be dumb."  Furthermore, if you are a person in an authority position such as, a parent at home, or a boss at work, this becomes more of an issue.  You then expect that when you talk, your child or your subordinate must pay close attention, understand the whole content of your speech and remember for ever and at all times what you told them.  This highlights the point that, when it comes to communicating our ideas to others, we tend towards self-centered.  

 Communication is not completed until the message is received by the other person. Delivering the message is the easy part.  The hard part is to make sure that the message is received by the intended party.  We tend to be communication lazy.  A majority of us only pay attention to delivering the message, the easy part, and then overlook the recievability of the message, the hard part.  Communication is hard work.  These ten golden rules of communication may help to keep you on your communication toes:          

1.  There are many slips between the other person's ears and your lips.  The message you want to convey may be garbled, distorted, camouflaged or completely lost by more dominant messages.  This happens because the recipient interprets your message by his or her brain, not by your brain.  To avoid this, think about the possible ways in which your message can be misunderstood or distorted by a recipient who is not on the same wave length or of the same orientation that you are.   

2.  People are not mind readers.  They can't read your mind.  They don't know what is really bothering you or what you really want from them.  Ask clearly and precisely what you want. High achievers are good in letting others know what they want.  Some speakers deliver the whole speech without spelling out even once what they want from their audience.  Then they feel unhappy when they don't get the results they expected from their speech.    

3.  Feel a genuinely liking for the people with whom you are communicating.  Remember the saying, "Nobody cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care."  When they feel you really like them, they make an extra effort to understand what you want.  

4.  The rule of listening.  There are two ears and one tongue, spend twice more time in listening than in speaking.  The more closely you listen to others, the more effective you would be in communicating your ideas to them according to their frame of reference.  It is by listening close to them, that you will know how they think, what their favorite expressions are and how you can arouse their interest.       

5.  The spoken word is but a small component of communication.  The spoken word constitutes of only 7 percent of the message, the other 93% is non-verbal.  If you say the words, "You are fine," but, your face, body and your voice is conveying, "I can't stand you,"  which one do you think will get conveyed?  Match your body language, voice tone, and other non-verbal behavior with your words.

6.  Keep your communication pure and simple.  Do not contaminate it with sarcasm, witticisms, or put downs.  When you do that, people stop listening to what you say and get flooded with emotions and thoughts regarding how you are treating them.  

7. The rule of repetition.  Tell them first what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you just told them.

8.  Check.  Ensure the accuracy and comprehension of your message.  For example, when you leave a message for someone, ask the person who has taken your message to repeat it so you can check it for its accuracy and comprehension.  Do the same when you instruct your staff to perform a task for you.  

9.  Review.  Leave a review document for the recipient to take home.  Give them something to review later and correct themselves, for example, a written summary of steps

10.  Walk your talk.  Match your actions with your words.  If you say something and then do another, your action will be received as the real message and not your spoken words. 

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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