If you want to improve your communication skills, a good place to start is to figure out a "scope of action." Like with any other activity that involves more than one person, the prime objective of communication is not a communication itself but the establishment of proper understanding with another party. There are three elements of understanding:
You can imagine three principles as three corners of a triangle. Without one of them, there is no understanding.
No matter how skilled with words your opponent is, if you don't like them, you are less able to listen, and therefore to understand. We must feel an affinity, likeness, some affection to start communicating. In work situations, we don't choose people we must talk to. Keeping it purely professional may serve the main purpose, but it can be stressful.
Communication is the ability to deliver messages to another person. You may like someone, but if he or she isn't able to communicate the message clearly, it makes it tough to understand.
The reality is the world or the state of things as they exist. To communicate well, you need to find common reality between you two. You can speak the same language, but if you come from entirely different backgrounds, you may have nothing in common. If you have a kid, for example, you will better understand another parent. If you come from the same country, or school, or university, sharing similarities makes it much easier to communicate.
Each corner of a triangle is the key to achieving an immediate goal of proper understanding. If you want to establish good communication, you can try to use each ingredient one by one. The main rule is: if you can bring one part up, and it pulls two others up, and your knowledge significantly improves.
You might not find someone appealing at first, or they may not find you attractive. You don't have to be a supermodel to start communication. Find your common reality, something you have in common. Whatever it is, you are both married or single. You go to the same wholesale store to buy groceries. Both of your kids play football. Narrow your shared reality as much as possible. Being both humans with two legs and two eyes is barely enough. The ability to quickly establish common grounds is essential for every good sales person. It brings your affinity up and makes another person more receptive to the message you must deliver.
Being attractive or unattractive is a part of our physical setup. If you dress well, if your voice is pleasant, if your face is charming, if you smell good, and your skin is clean, it makes your life and communication much easier. Physical attraction works. If you are good-looking, you are less likely stressed out about communication with other people. But not everyone has beautiful physics.
Some people have large teeth, skin diseases, chronic physical conditions, or speech disorders, which makes them less attractive in general. There is nothing to be ashamed off, but if your body falls into this category, you need way more communication skills to compensate the initial lack of physical attractiveness. Virtual communication is extremely useful in such cases, because we can establish understanding by communication without the need to be judged by appearances.
Communication is the intention to transmit a particle of information to another person without distortion. Before your start conversation, ask yourself "What am I trying to say?" What is your goal? Are you trying to sell a product? Are you trying to be loved? Are you trying to manipulate a person into something you want them to do? Do you want to learn? Ideally, we must know the answer to this question.
Most people start conversations without a real purpose. An idea possesses them that the communication itself is the key to success. Social networks are a great part of social obsession with communication. Good communication skills can help you get through the day. You can sell an item or two. But it has very little to do with success in life. Mark Zuckerberg is an excellent example of this principle. Steve Jobs had doubting interpersonal skills.
John D Rockefeller wasn't very likeable man. He wrote: "The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun."
One thing successful business-people do well is communicating their ideas to their employees, customers and partners well. They do not talk endlessly to trillions of unknown people just to be liked and appreciated. Communication is a vehicle to achieve your objectives. You do it right, and you make sure it's delivered without distortion. There are 4 keys to effective communication:
It's called a ...Communication Cycle
Communication as social interaction can be described in four primary dimension:
Communication cycle starts with the source person who is transmitting clear message to the receiver. The receiver "decodes" the message and confirms the delivery.
The first model of the communication cycle was introduces by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, Bell Laboratories in 1949.
This model can be used every time you communicate. The message cannot be not delivered if it gets stuck somewhere in the middle of a cycle.
You have no message. Obviously, if you don't have any message to transmit, there is no communication initiated.
You can't transmit message clearly. Most often it happens due to speech disabilities. If you don't have physical issues or illnesses, but it feels like you are not being understood, see the communication issue #3.
The receiver can't "decode" your message. If the receiver doesn't understand your message, it can have several factors behind it.
The receiver gets your message, understands it, but he or she doesn't send a confirmation back to you. As well as it can be a part of a broken triangle of understanding again, but it is also can be due to the lack of communication skills of the receiver. Some people are just bad at it. They seem to listen, but give no feedback. It's funny, because with poor communicators, you will find yourself in crazy situations when you keep talking, trying to get your message through, and it never gets anywhere. You feel exhausted, frustrated and in doubt of yourself.
Anytime the communication cycle breaks, you wind up in confusion and disappointment. An excellent way to start improving your communication skills is to look for reasons why your message was not delivered. It might be as much as your fault as a fault of the person you are communicating with.
We often take the word "communication" too vaguely. If your boss doesn't understand you, it does not mean you have poor communication skills. But one of you lacks interpersonal skills. In group work, there are usually more than two people involved, and while you are trying to establish face-to-face communication, there are third, fourth and fifth person that can carry in the element of distortion. It is why in the big teams good management is essential to establish proper communication between team players. One immature person can bring such a high level of debris in between communications it can destroy relationships inside the entire department.
But the ability to deliver your message to the receiver (it can be one person or a group of people), i.e., communication skills is not the same as the ability to maintain good balanced relationships, i.e., interpersonal skills. You can convey the proper meaning to the big group of people, but you might not be able to find understanding inside your close environment. That essentially means you can be a capable communicator and lack interpersonal skills at the same time.
Perfect people exist only on big screens. Good-hearted people might live in poor neighborhoods. Geniuses are rarely understood. People with border-type personality disorders can live in the rough Oakland downtown or play golf at the Fisher's Island Golf Club. You can be happy and poor, or miserable and rich. You can be a boss with poor communication skills, or a lumberjack with an excellent ability to communicate your ideas. But since you have come that far and still reading this article, you probably truly interested in improving your communication skills.
Like any other skill, communication skills can be developed. You can practice public speech proficiency. You can make changes to your body language, use and pronounce words correctly, get a speech coach, etc.
To improve your level of attractiveness, you can change your dress-code, you can start showering every day, stop smoking, use French perfume, keep your hands and ears clean, exercise to improve your posture, stay on a diet, get slim, etc.
There is a couple of things that cannot be exercised or changed, or developed. You cannot change your body or face structure (plastic surgery is not the answer). You cannot change your vocal cords to sound better. You can't stop your body from age deterioration. And...
But stop. Maybe you don't have a lack of communication skills? After all, our ability to speak and write words is just a tool to transmit our ideas and thoughts. What can possible prevent us from using this tool effectively? There is only one person who can convince you that the problem exists in the first place. Imagine if all people around you were sweet, friendly and pleasant, wish you well, always ready to listen to your concerns and understand your needs? Would you have problems with communication? If your answer is "Of course, not!", keep reading.
In astrology, every one of us has a set of tools (planets) to manage affairs. Mercury is a tool for exchanging ideas, i.e., communication. Badly situated Mercury in the chart can cause communication issues, skin diseases, mental distortions, etc. It can cause breakage of relationships and can create difficulties with other people in general. It can set us up with difficult people on a constant basis. Fun, creative, intelligent planet of research and discrimination, afflicted Mercury can bring all sorts of difficulties. For a person with good Mercury, it is easy to be constructive, easy-going and fun. People with good Mercury can ask any question or propose any idea. It enables them to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.They don't mind being rejected because they realize that it's a part of life. They can manage stress and emotions and to focus on messages and communication. There are different types of afflictions.
For example, if you have Mercury-Saturn affliction, you may find it difficult to say precisely what you meant. Unintentionally you hide your feelings, confusing others with you messages. You might be scared of being exposed as weak and vulnerable. You might be convinced that whatever you do or say people don't understand you. Why even try?
If you have Mercury - waning Moon conjunction, you might believe that other people should know how you feel and what you need. When people "refuse" to read you mind, you may feel resentful because it sounds like they don't care about your needs.
With some combinations, people can be overzealous with their opinions and ideas that it makes it impossible to keep friendly conversation. With others, a person gets angry and frustrated when rejected or disapproved. You may feel ashamed of yourself. You may feel ashamed of the way you make your requests. You may think and re-think your communication strategies, but the root of the problem is not your poor communication skills. It is the way you think about it. And this gets us way back to the roots, to the source of the problem.
There are thousands of methods and practices that claim they can help anyone to improve their communication skills, but before you step on this road of experimentation, it might be smarter to find out what exactly are you dealing with. If there was a miracle book that could cure us of poor communication skills, conflicts would cease to exist. The best way to improve any skill is to understand the roots of your issue. You might be surprised!
We are bonded. We have no choice in many situations. The only freedom we have is to choose people to communicate.
I like to the sound of it. Of course, there are more choices in life, but for many people dealing with difficult people is the biggest challenge of all. The good news is, you don't have to. If there is no understanding, no affinity, no reality between you two:
And remember, difficult people with poor communication skills don't read articles about self-improvements. They use information to control folks with low self-esteem. Don't be one of them.
P.S. Mercury is not the only factor in determining our communication abilities, of course not. But let's make it a topic of some other time.