It matters little how good you are at your art, your business, or your craft; if your communication skills suck, your endeavors will suffer significantly. Whether you realize it or not, first impressions count, while second impressions define.
In any human interaction, you are wise to convey to people that you are at least as interested in them as they are in you. Usually, you have to appear more interested in them to keep their attention and get their eventual compliance. Otherwise, you risk leaving people feeling flat or put off by you.
One of my speaking engagement topics involves the WIIFM? concept (what’s in it for me?)… which argues that we’re all our own favorite subjects, and that we’re broadcasting this frequency more often than not. And awareness and action around this assertion is paramount to long-term success in any field. Of course, the circumstances of an interaction also matter. For example, are you being approached, or are you doing the approaching? Who’s involved? Where is it taking place? When’s this happening? It’s important to understand the different communication nuances that different situations and circumstances require.
Ask yourself the following questions at any given moment, in any given situation:
> Is it possible I’m not “presenting” well, and coming off poorly to others right now?
> Is it possible I’m not as aware as I should be of what messages my nonverbals and body language is sending?
> Is it possible I’m allowing my personal life to interfere with my professional life?
> Am I being inconsiderate of what others with whom I am interacting may be going through right now?
> Am I so self-centered (and fearful) right now that I’m blind to the damage my short-sighted actions are producing?
> Am I so caught up in my emotional need to be right that my intellectual critical thinking skills are being compromised?
> Am I being a whiny bitch or a pushy bully perhaps?
If you’re honestly willing and able to answer YES to any of the above… you’ve likely got communication breakdowns coming down on you like the Hindenberg (or a lead zeppelin…).
The ability to competently manage your own emotions to best manage your relationships to successfully interact with others, is arguably the single greatest (soft) skill set you can possess. An inability to communicate effectively with all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations reduces the impact of your other (hard) skills (your technical skills), and ultimately the width and depth of your success. Recognize where your communications breakdown… and resolve to seek out solutions to improve.
Jimmy Page on recording the guitars for the Led Zeppelin song “Communication Breakdown”… “You see, there’s a very old recording maxim which goes, ‘Distance makes depth.’ You’re always used to them close-miking amps, just putting the microphone in front, but I’d have a mic right out the back, as well, and then balance the two..”
Distance. Depth. Balance. All important concepts when considering effective communication. Sometimes it’s necessary to step back and see the bigger picture, to determine the next best steps.
It’s much more often an individual choice, rather than an ability.
>> Select articles from the Sound Matters column series are also featured on AntiHero Magazine HERE.