Communication is the currency of relationships. It doesn’t matter if its a workplace, romantic, or cordial relationship, the legal tender or medium of exchange is communication. And since no man is an island unto himself, this makes communication such an essential life skill. It is arguably the one most important skill for success.
If you are not already a master of communication. Mastering the art of communication should be on top of your ‘Better Me’ project! (And yes, you should have a ‘Better Me’ project. MTN told us so. Lol)
Consider these two scriptures:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6.
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? ..… Mark 9: 50a
The first one talks about how we ought to communicate: always full of grace, seasoned with salt (i.e sweet to the person we are communicating with). Ever had a saltless meal? Blahhh Bland!
The second one poses a question: if your communication has lost it’s saltiness what can be done?
Before we get to what can be done, let’s quickly cover the basics:
Communication can be defined as the imparting (conveying) or exchanging of information (thanks to google), through an available or preferred medium. Bingo! This definition is cool because, it’s not always an exchange (sometimes messages are simply sent out without expecting or receiving any feedback). Although, the best form of communication should be an exchange. Also, there are many media (speaking platforms, writing platforms, etc) for communicating, but we are eventually limited either by availability or preference.
For communication to take place, there should be at least two people are involved:
- The Sender
- The Receiver
Based on these two perspectives of sender and receiver, we can identify various aspects of communication as follows:
Sender: Speaking, Writing, Body Language/ Gesticulations, Facial expressions
Receiver: Listening, Reading (in between the lines), Observing, Probing (asking leading questions)
Of course this sender and receiver roles can be switched several times during a communication process. And for you to master communication, you have to master all these different aspects.
Now, back to the salt matter!
Communication can be said to be bland or unseasoned if it comes across as purposeless, unwieldy (not to the point) and uninteresting. Or if it elicits unintended negative reactions. This is not only unattractive, it is also ineffective (hardly if ever achieves the intended purpose). But, communication doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a couple of things you can do to season your communications with salt again (make it engaging and effective):
- Begin with the end in mind. As with everything else (especially in project management), planning is half the work. You need to take a moment to think about what you would like to achieve with your communication: What kind of feelings and reactions do you really want to elicit? Now, communicate accordingly.
- Know your audience. What you say, how you say it, when you say it, where you say it all depends on who it is you are communicating with . So this is extremely important. For example: How do you say ‘I love you’ (especially on Valentine’s day). The best answer of course is: ‘It depends’. It depends on who is saying it, and who it is being said to. You could say it with a greeting card, a trip to an amala joint or by putting a large red ribbon on the latest Prado. It depends. Of course, I prefer the latter. Lol……
- Master your tools. Whether it’s writing (reports, e-mails, notes), or speaking (presentations, face to face), you have to become a pro. Good communication is undeniably attractive. And admired / attractive people get more out of other people. Now, speaking of tools; in this digital age, there are a million and one ways (mediums) to pass the same message across. But you have to find the appropriate one in each instance. See the example in number 3.
- Overcome barriers. Common barriers to effective communication are language (e.g technical terms or jargons), culture, prejudices or false assumptions, lack of attention or interest in the subject matter. As you plan your communication, you should bear in mind whatever barriers may prevent effective communication and deal with them.
- Feedback is king! Never assume anything. As the saying goes, “assumptions make an ass of u and me”: ass-u-me. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. In plain logical terms, that simply means you should listen twice as much as you speak, or receive more than you send. Especially with very important messages, where you have low tolerance for error, you should ask for a confirmation that the message is understood and the right action will be elicited.
- Take note of non-verbal cues and other nuances. Look beneath the surface. Whether you are the sender or the receiver, non-verbal cues are very important. For example, there is an adage in yoruba that translates literally as ‘Sorry has gender’ i.e the word sorry could be male or female. The male version being the harsh one that really doesn’t mean sorry. The female one is the real sorry. Hope that didn’t confuse you. Lol. It simply means words do not mean anything by themselves. They only mean something when taken in the context of how it is delivered, who is delivering it and so on. Many times what is left unsaid is as important or even more important than what has been said. Pay attention, so that you can make the most of every opportunity to communicate with others.
There you have it! Hope this helps you season your communications with salt again. See you in the comments below.