It appears that in the 21st century communicating ideas has become a lost art. Studies have shown that one of the reasons is that the use of technology has replaced the good old fashion ability to connect with people. In addition, the loss of a classical education when rhetoric and oratory skills where once taught has hindered the art of communicating ideas. The LIFE Leadership subscriptions have helped so many people re connect and learn to communicate again. Having these abilities is easier said than done, however. Let’s examine some perspectives on the art of communicating ideas and what may hinder our ability to connect with others.
First of all, there is a tendency for humans to be resistant to change. We become people of habit even though many of our habits won’t bring us closer to our goals. There is a tendency to stay in our comfort zones. When we stay in our own world it’s easy to think our own thoughts rather than listen to new ideas. In many cases people today think that watching T.V. or searching the internet is the only source of new ideas that they need. One reason it is so hard to listen to new ideas is that we have a tendency to hold onto our own thoughts. This is a barrier to connecting and communicating new ideas. In order to listen we have to learn to exclude our own thoughts. As an example of how difficult this is, just try and see if you can keep from thinking your own thoughts for just 5 or 10 seconds while someone else is speaking. One of the key aspects of learning new ideas is the fact that listening serves a purpose for us. People are more apt to listen if there is gain in doing it.
It’s obvious that the art of listening is the key to communicating. The easiest way to begin listening is to ask a question. “How long have you lived here?” “How did you ever get started in that profession?” Learn about the other persons likes or dislikes. To learn about people, ask them about their past. A question is a request to think about a subject. It activates the other person’s thinking. Listeners are drawn because of pleasure, excitement, or to hear a solution to a problem. Keep in mind that what is relevant to you may not be relevant to them. Listening is like a jigsaw puzzle. Hearing words is like receiving the pieces. When you put the pieces together, it’s like forming a picture. The idea or picture should contribute to understanding the point. Some thoughts may provoke the other person to work on understanding the idea. The deepest level of listening is where the listener thinks about what you are saying. They begin to visualize your ideas in a way that they would use them. This can open the door to further conversation.
To help the other person connect with your ideas it’s important to start the conversation by telling your purpose. Starting a conversation without telling your purpose may lead to distrust. Too often, one person asks questions without telling the other person in the conversation what the reasons for the questions are. Being courteous stimulates cooperation. Encourage expression. Talk about the point and leave out other ideas that don’t belong. Any idea that does not contribute to the other person’s understanding of the discussion is beside the point. Take notice that when another person asks non – meaningful questions, that they are not putting the pieces together or even that maybe their purpose of the conversation is different than yours. In that case, it may be helpful to draw them out further to find out the purpose of the statement. In some cases listening is at the surface only, where the other person can repeat back the words that were said but they have no comprehension of what was said. This might occur because they have no interest at all. Sometimes those receiving the information keep a curtain over their mind and heart so that others cannot get a glimpse of what they are thinking.
When discussing new ideas realize that emotions are interwoven within the conversation. Emotions motivate us. Fear is an unpleasant feeling that can fuel motivation. A feeling of gain can lead to motivation from fulfilling a want or a need. When you motivate from finding goals that are good for both sides a new channel now exists toward a worthwhile endeavor. Connecting is enabled when you practice thinking about what you are saying beforehand as though you were the one listening. You become a manipulator if you try to persuade people to do something that is not in their best interest. Other people should not be treated only as an object to be examined or probed. Cooperativeness in a conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other person’s ideas and feelings as important as your own.
One of the many things that limit communication during a conversation is attitude toward other people. Self- confidence or low self- esteem appear to be a frequent block to connecting and communicating. Symptoms may include self – praise or a need for reassurance. Other symptoms include teasing or gossip. Unfavorable comparison or comparing two people may indicate low self – esteem. Irrelevant conversation may be a way of showing a need just to let out feelings with no relevant information. In that case, a person may be using the conversation itself as way of fulfillment.
When sharing an idea you may want to finish the conversation with a commitment. Scheduling a time to re connect indicates a person’s interest. Hesitation to re connect indicates reservations about the ideas that were discussed. There may be additional time to evaluate the ideas that were discussed. While working with best selling author Orrin Woodward, I’ve learned over time that there is no substitute for the motivating power of a great cause. Two people can be brought together around an idea that unites them. After the U.S. Olympic games and Peter Uberroth’s $200 million surplus, Robert Akamian wrote in Time, “He has a way of turning whatever he touches into a cause.” Connecting people may be as easy as what Dale Carnagie describes as “appealing to nobler motives.” Finally, if you are satisfied with the results you are now getting, why change? If you are not satisfied, why not experiment? Ideas, Connecting, Communicating. Try it. Let me know how it goes? God Bless, George Guzzardo