The 2 Ends of A Message
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My mission is to make people realize their full potential and show them how to live to it. A crucial part of getting outstanding results in any area of your life is to become a master communicator. You have to be able to get your message across fast and receive information the right way so you can use it to your advantage immediately. Your communication skills define your outer potential.
Communication has been a big passion of mine for years and I love to play with it as often as I can. By changing my approach I can influence the results I am getting. I have studied this subject extensively and in my 15 years of experience as a professional project manager in the construction industry I could hone my communication skills in real-life situations. I had to communicate with workers on site, architects, engineers, up to CEOs and high-level clients – from many different countries and very diverse cultural backgrounds. Every one of these individuals required a different communication style for me to get into rapport with them.
Why Communication Is So Important
Communicating with others is such a basic thing that most of the times we don’t even think about it anymore. We just do it – hundreds of times a day, we speak, we write emails and texts, we wave hands and smile to people on the street, gesticulate in the car, or simply read newspapers and ads. We all communicate constantly in many different ways. Communication is the basis of expressing our thoughts and emotions, passing on information and connecting with other people. Communication is also one of the key elements to tap into your full potential. By mastering your communication skills you will improve the quality of the results you are getting significantly.
How Communication Works
Paul Watzlawick, Austrian-American communication expert, created this powerful quote:
We cannot NOT communicate.
What he means by that is that communication happens all the time. Even if we are not communicating, in fact we are communicating.
Imagine someone sitting in a corner, hands crossed in front of them, making grumpy face and not talking.
Seeing this person sitting there we immediately will get some kind of opinion about this person – which is communicated to us. It may be something like, “I want to be alone”, “I am upset”, “I am hurt” or anything else.
Communication happens all the time… and it occurs in many different ways. We can communicate in writing, verbally, or non-verbally. No matter how we communicate, there is always someone who is “sending” a message addressing it to someone else who on the other end is “receiving” it. There always is a Sender and a Receiver.
In most day to day situations we understand each other and we don’t think much about our communication. But then there are those moments and I am sure you have also experienced this more than once, were you say something and the other person got it all wrong and understood something totally different. The message that arrived to the other person suddenly had an entirely different meaning.
What has happened?
The meaning seemed so obvious to you and you cannot understand where this misunderstanding came from.
Well, be aware that the same thing happened to the person you talked to. The meaning of the message they received was totally clear to them. From their point of view there was not misunderstanding.
The words of the message are the facts. The meaning is subject to everyone’s interpretation. Nothing is good or bad – no situation, no happening, no circumstance, no person,… no message. The meaning you give things is entirely up to you.
It depends on your previous experiences, your emotional state and the mental image you create in your mind in that situation. It is the art of a good communicator to get the intended meaning across.
The Big Misconception
There is a widespread misconception regarding whose responsibility the correct understanding is.
It is not the other person’s – the receiver’s – responsibility to “get it right”. Yes, they can help to make sure the message arriving is the same as the one sent. But in fact, it is the sender who has to make sure that the other person understands what he wanted to say in the correct way.
How he can do this?
Just ask what the other person understood. This feedback loop is essential if what you said was important – like at a handover in a project situation.
The next time you have a deep or an important communication with someone or you listen to one like that, remember this simple model. Notice what is said (on either side) and consider whether what left the sender had the same meaning on the other end.
You could also record conversations and “analyze” them later. Just make sure you let the people participating know beforehand and ask for their consent.
Make communication your new playground and sharpen your awareness about what happens around you.
Resources and Additional Information
– Miteinander Reden 1, Friedemann Schulz von Thun, 2003