As you learned in the first part of this article, there are several myths regarding communications. The first is that if you’re talking you must be communicating. The second, you’re either born with communications skills or not. Both of these myths are wrong. Communication requires more than just stating your ideas. In this second part of a three part article, Brian Tracy reviews the communications process and the elements involved in any face-to-face communication.
Getting Your Ideas Across, Part 2
By: Brian Tracy
Communication requires both a sender and a receiver. First, the sender thinks of an idea or image that he or she wishes to convey to the receiver. The sender then translates the idea or image into a form, or words, either written or spoken. Those words constitute the basic message that is transmitted to the receiver. The receiver catches the words, like a baseball player catches a baseball, and then translates the words into the ideas and pictures that they represent in order to understand the message that was sent.
The receiver then acknowledges receipt, and replies by translating his or her ideas and pictures into words and transmitting them to the sender. When the message has been sent and the receiver has acknowledged receiving it by transmitting a response that the sender receives, accepts and understands, the communication is complete.
If this sounds complicated, it is. Probably 99 percent of all the difficulties between human beings, and within organizations, are caused by breakdowns in the communication process. Either the senders do not say what they mean clearly enough, or the receivers do not receive the message in the form in which it was intended.
An enormous number of factors can interfere in any communication, and every one of them can lead to a distortion of the message in some way. Probably every problem you’ll ever have will be somehow associated with a failure or breakdown in the communication process.
According to Albert Mehrabian, a communications specialist, there are three elements in any direct, face-to-face communication: words, tone of voice and body language. You’ve probably heard that words account for only 7 percent of the message, tone of voice accounts for 38 percent of the message, and body language accounts for fully 55 percent of the message. For an effective communication to take place, all three parts of the message must be congruent. If there is any incongruency, the receiver will be confused and will tend to accept the predominant form of communication rather than simply the literal meaning of the words.
Very often, you will say something that you feel is innocuous to a person and he will be offended. When you try to explain that you felt the words you used were inoffensive, the person will tell you that your tone of voice was the issue.
The third ingredient of communication, body language, is also very important. The way you sit or stand or incline your head or move your eyes, relative to the person with whom you’re communicating, will have an enormous effect on the message received.
For example, you can dramatically increase the effect of your communications by leaning toward the person you’re speaking with. If you’re sitting down, this is easy. If you’re standing up, you can accomplish the same effect by shifting your weight forward onto the balls of your feet and leaning slightly toward the person you’re talking to. When you make direct eye and face contact with the person, combined with focused attention, you double the impact of what you’re saying.
The last part of this three part article will be posted on this blog next Monday. Come back to read the final section on preparing for communications.
About the author
Brian Tracy is a legendary in the fields of management, leadership, and sales. He has produced more than 300 audio/video programs and has written 28 books, including his just-released book “The Psychology of Selling.” Special offer: To receive your free copy of “Crunch Time!, just visit www.briantracy.com and click on the Crunch Time! icon. He can be reached at (858) 481-2977 or www.briantracy.com.