Back when the late Joan Rivers coined the phrase, “Can we talk?!” in the early 1980’s, she’d have never known just how extreme the problem of talking would become. More specifically, the communication challenges of communication related to new technologies, generational differences, and communication preferences. This has not only become a tremendous problem in business but also in people’s personal communication.
In 1995, author Gary Chapman introduced the book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The premise of the book was that people have personal love languages or communication styles and techniques that are as unique as their physical and personality traits. His assertion was that just because one person sees providing a foot rub to the other partner as an expression of love (and this would also be what that person would interpret when received as an expression of love), that the other partner may not. Similarly, technology has brought us to a place where we have trouble knowing how to communicate effectively because we don’t know each other’s communication language.
My three year granddaughter can override any electronic password, program the DVR in seconds, and update the latest anti-virus on my computer, seemingly intuitively. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but I’m sure you get the point, that generationally, technology is not something to be feared. The younger generations just do it without fear of messing it all up. They also communicate very differently and other generations have also adopted new ways to communicate through technology.
A doctoral colleague of mine, Dr. Jumanne is conducting a study on the cost of generational barriers of technology in business. His study is based on the premise that we assume everyone else has the same communication as us, and in using our preferred communication method (instead of that preferred by who we are communicating with), we are costing our businesses millions if not billions in revenue. How? Missed emails, voice mails, phone calls, letters, text, and the list goes on. I would like to add, that I do not believe this problem is isolated to the business sector, but that our communication language differences also effect on a personal level.
How many times have you been waiting for an email and the other person said, “I left you a voice mail on your office phone?” – You never check your office voicemail as you primarily use your cell phone. Let me illustrate with the following situation. Bob and Sheryl are in their late 60’s and their 30-something year old realtor emailed the couple with an offer for the sale of their home. He chose to email the offer instead of calling the couple on the phone and requesting an in-person sit down to review? This is how he conducts his business and wonders why some of clients seem to have a chip on their shoulder. Bob and Sheryl prefer a sit down so that they can understand what they see on the paper. Their young realtor, savvy in technology, believes that getting the information to the couple via email is the quickest and most efficient method of communication. Bob and Sheryl feel put off by their realtor and wonder how he is too busy for them if he indeed expects a commission.
Without communicating and letting the other party know our preferred method of communication, our communication language, we can drastically, negatively affect our business and personal relationships. Bob and Sheryl like new technology, but their communication language is direct. They expect to hear a voice- that is their communication language. Effective communication to build and nurture relationship with Bob and Sheryl is via phone call and/or in person. Had the realtor known this, he would not be in hot water with his angry clients that see him as rude and impersonal. The realtor could have simply asked up front by clarifying, “In the event of an offer I would want to provide you with the details of any offer as soon as I get it in. Would it be okay for me to email that over to you first? Or would you like me to call you instead to set up a sit down?” By simply asking the other person what their preferred method of communication is, we can avoid misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and communicate more effectively.
If it’s not bad enough that people need to become mind readers because of poor communication (as we assume the other person magically knows something we think that they should know), technology, generational differences, and the technology preferences associated become serious issues. The only way to know someone’s preferred mode of communication or communication language is to ask! Yes, we actually need to talk to each other- the most basic form of communication- talking.
So, yes, 30 years earlier, Joan Rivers was truly revolutionary when she asked the question, “Can we talk?” Although now, we need to revise the question to enhance our business and personal communication, “How can we talk?”
If we would just take a moment to realize that people are unique and to communicate effectively, this can’t be for our convenience. We can overcome this new miscommunication paradigm as we get to know each other’s communication language and it all starts with talking to each other.
Jolene is a leader with Toastmasters International and a member of the National Speakers Association. Her new book Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset will help people overcome conditioned thinking which hinders personal and business success.
With all of the hustle and bustle of each day we long for peace, relaxation, slowing down, and quiet. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 35% of Americans work on the weekends. This phenomena is not just limited to the U.S.; a global epidemic of being stuck in “work mode” is eroding many peoples’ ability to succeed.
What is success? Success differs from person to person. For most it is a blend of financial, personal, and professional achievement. The subjectivity of what is success is the root of people’s confusion about the connection between work and life balance. We long for the weekend or time off and then continue to check work email throughout the weekend, or bring work home from the office. The key to our success is resolving to take our time off as seriously as our work. Our time off, is our time to recharge. “The time to relax is when we don’t have time for it,” Sydney Harris.
When we sleep, we do not check out emails. Our bodies are in a state of recharge. Just as an electric car must receive a full charge in order to run for its expected output and at optimum level, we must take time to recharge. A survey of successful people showed that taking time to recharge was the most important contributing factor to their success. So let’s explore what we need to start doing to help us break free from our limited belief that success comes at a price.
Mohandas Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” There are deliberate actions that we can take to help us slow down, unplug, and recharge so that we can reach a higher level of success, happiness, and sense of personal fulfillment.
Jolene Church is a mindfulness practitioner, success coach, and motivational speaker. Her latest book, Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset, helps people break down conditioned barriers in our thinking that inhibits our success. www.SuccessfulThinkingMindset.com
According to a study by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, just 7% of what is said, is through words. That means that 93% of what we hear is not through the words we hear. Steven R. Covey says that, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” With these two things in mind, it is no wonder why we have breakdowns in communication. First, if we are developing our response to what is being said, while only partially listening to something that is only 7% of what is being said, how can we gain insight and understanding from one another, communicate effectively, and problem solve? If we only listen to 7%, how can we form opinions and make decisions?
“The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT,” Alfred Brendel. When we fail to become quiet, we fail to hear. Listening increases thinking skills; as when you listen you are processing what is being said, and not just the 7% from the words spoken. We don’t learn from talking; we learn from listening. Winston Churchill stated, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” The art of actively listening enables us to fully assess what is being said, through voice inflection, facial expression, body language, and other non-verbal cues.
“Listening is a positive act; you have to put yourself out to do it,” David Hockney. Although uncomfortable, if you are not used to actively listening, the value of listening is immeasurable. Listening engages your mind by connecting you with the thoughts and ideas of others. True, there may be some that are so close minded, opinionated, or full of themselves that you would rather not be connected, but there is always something to learn from every engagement of listening. Just because someone is opinionated does not mean that you took nothing away from the conversation. You most certainly realize and come to appreciate an informed and open mind. What is really important is what that person didn’t say- this is the golden nugget in active listening.
Sometimes people just need to vent or talk through a frustration or situation. When you are the listener it is your job to listen, and to do so you must be present. Being present means that you are not clicking your pen, multi-tasking on ‘brain-less’ activities, or thinking about what you are going to say. Being present means, just that, your role is sitting in the front of the class, intently hearing, sensing, and seeing what is being said. A wise person once said that a man with an empty stomach is a poor listener. This person is so self-absorbed with their own agenda (a rumbling stomach), that they are not present.
Pick up on the visual cues. Is this person visibly upset? Are they confused? Excited? The only true way to know is to be present and pay attention with all of your senses so that you can ascertain what is really going on. This means that you should maintain good eye contact, assume a posture that shows you are intently listening, and put yourself in their shoes- how do you think they feel? This will give you a greater understanding of the 93% of the conversation that you are missing from their words.
Finally, when the speaker breaks and it is your turn, don’t rush in. Ask that you understand correctly. This gives the speaker an additional opportunity to clarify what they were saying and give you adequate information to respond. You have so much to listen to between the words, tone of speech, and visual cues that it is best to know that you fully understand. So often we are so quick to offer advice, defend our actions, or jump on the other’s bandwagon that we shortchange our critical thinking. This is like completing a mid-term paper without reading the instructions. You may complete the paper but you missed the critical elements. We need to slow down to think. When we are present and asking clarifying questions, this engages our thinking and gives us clarity.
The biggest mistake that humans make: listening half, understanding quarter, and telling double. Becoming a better thinker requires becoming a better listener; for we can ask why all day long, but if we aren’t listening to the answer, than what was the purpose of the question? Becoming an effective thinker by actively listening can be summed up in the following:
Jolene is a communication trainer for Toastmaster’s International, professional speaker, success coach, and author of two books: Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset and It! Happens: A Practical Guide to Finding Your ‘It’. Jolene is practitioner of mindfulness for balance, excellence, and a successful mindset.
Have you ever purchased a jigsaw puzzle, brought it home, dumped out the contents, only to look at the pile of confusion and think that you just bit off more than you could chew? Life can get a bit like this. Problem solving can get a bit like this. At times, what we have before us seems to be a huge pile of puzzle pieces with no reason or logic just random shapes that we must somehow interlock until they begin to make sense.
How do you go about solving your puzzle? Do you stare at the pile and say, “this is impossible”, and sweep the pieces back into the box? Do you stop for a moment and begin to process a methodical way of solving the puzzle? Do you just pick up a piece and see if you can spot anything that looks like it would fit with the piece you have chosen? For me, I separate all of the side pieces. I want to build the frame so that I can then find pieces that attach and bring the picture together. I also separate out like colors or distinctly marked pieces. I keep the box cover of the puzzle in clear view to help determine what the strange piece that I have pulled might be a part of. Regardless of how we solve the puzzle or how we go about trying to solve the puzzle, the end result is all the same (except for those that swept the pieces into the box), and that is that we all see the big picture in the end.
At some point, every puzzler is faced with the thought- there must be pieces missing. We check the floor and the surrounding area as we are certain we don’t have all of the pieces. We just know that we purchased the ONE box that was missing a crucial piece- later to find out it was there all of the time. Why is this? Why does our mind accept so readily that we do not have the resources needed at hand? Often what we need is right in front of us, yet we fail to recognize how it fits into the puzzle so we look right past.
How do you feel when you put in the final piece of the puzzle? It’s a pretty great feeling and one that leaves you with a- “now what?” thought. Do you break down the puzzle immediately or leave it in place a bit to serve as a reminder of your accomplishment? Some people glue their puzzles into an immortalized commemorative state; and I can completely appreciate why. There is great satisfaction in the end, but is this puzzle truly the end? We shouldn't be so quick to appreciate an end to creative thinking.
We possess a mind that has an innate drive to create, to problem solve, and continually think- but what happens when we don’t see or recognize the puzzle pieces? How can such an advanced processor and generator of ideas see past what is right there? What if there were missing pieces? Would you be satisfied staring at a picture with the final piece missing? Chances are it would really bug you. Why? Because it is natural for our minds to want to solve the problem and reach resolution. This is why so many people feel like they are searching for something to make their picture complete. We want the big picture to come together in the end so that we can stand back and see how all of the pieces fit. This is natural. What all too many accept as natural is that there are pieces missing and there is nothing that we can do about it. The picture will always be incomplete.
Have you walked away from the puzzle or sat for hours staring at it, only to have someone walk up, pick up a piece and fit it perfectly into the space you had been toiling over for the longest time? They simply walk up, grab the piece and slip it into place with ease, like it was the only piece of the puzzle that needed to be fit? You then proclaim how you had been looking for that STUPID piece for forever! They smile and make a comment about being a ninja puzzle master- which really gets under your skin. Why could they spot the piece that you couldn’t? You were the one who had everything sorted by color and shape. You knew that the piece HAD to be missing, yet someone else finds it without any trouble and puts the piece into place.
We have been taught from a young age that we do not possess all of the answers. We have been conditioned that our resources are limited to what is known, can be seen, or proven. It has become programmed in that a piece is missing and that we will not see the picture come together. The problem lies in negative programming. When we set out to solve a problem, we do not think we cannot – unless we dump the puzzle back in the box. As we make connections with obvious fits, the picture takes shape. Doubt is created within the mind because of negative experiences (comments, situations, etc.) from our past. Doubt is like glue, holding down the pieces of the puzzle so that we cannot even grab them to try them out. Doubt immortalizes an incomplete puzzle. To combat the doubtful glue that is generated in the mind, we must always be willing to accept that although we may not see the pieces that this does not mean that they are not there.
Whether we walk away from the puzzle for a bit, taking a break to find clarity, or a “ninja puzzle master” helps us find what we are looking for, the piece can be found. The “ninja” had clarity because of a different perspective which posed no barriers of doubt. Sometimes just shifting views of the puzzle helps. Sometimes walking away and coming back. The significance in the last statement is coming back. It is important when faced with a puzzle that the hope that was in us when we started (we can put the pieces together) remains to completion- even when we can’t see the pieces.
Although we have been taught over the course of our lives that we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, they are there. As you face whatever it is you are facing, or will face, remember to be like the “ninja puzzle master”- with no preconceived barriers. Why can’t you solve this problem? You can. Gain clarity in understanding that you are the ninja master of your mind and there is no amount of glue that can hold you back. Sneak in and take the puzzle piece, fit it into place. There are no missing pieces.
Jolene Church is the author of Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset and It! Happens: A Practical Guide to Finding Your It. Jolene enjoys coaching others, both individually and through her workshops to help people unlock barriers to their thinking and become their personal best.
Jolene holds Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and is a certified master success coach. Jolene's writing is continually inspired by the challenges that her clients are facing. She finds constant inspiration in the world around her and is profoundly honored to be living her purpose helping others turn impossible into possible.