Sunday, December 25, 2005

Communication 101, 102, 103, 104

Communication is in the ear…and body language of the beholder.

Never talk over people, rarely talk at them, at the very least talk to them, and try to talk with them.

- Talking over = diatribe

They’ll leave at the earliest opportunity because you’re insulting them by treating them as if they’re not there. They’re thinking: “What a buffoon, I’m outta’ here at the next break.” Never do this.

- Talking at = debate

They feel like you’re sticking your finger in their face. They’ll either: a) hunker down in a submissive pose with their chin tucked into their neck if they’re intimidated. It's as if they’re saying: “Please don’t be angry at me;” or b) they’ll stick their chin out at you and narrow their eyes if they’re ticked off. It's as if they’re saying: “You can’t talk to me like that!” Do this only in a situation such as being in overtime in the seventh game of the NBA finals, your players know you respect them and you need them to execute, not think.

- Talking to = discussion

They’ll nod from the neck up as if to say, “Yes, that makes sense,” and may or may not follow through. This is the language of doing business as usual. Use this as your usual mode of speaking.

- Talking with = dialogue

They’ll relax their shoulders and neck as if you’ve moved over to their side and put your arm around their shoulder like a loving parent or grandparent. It's as if you've told them: “It’ll be okay. We can work this out.” This is the language of intimacy. Aspire to this in matters of the heart and when possible in matters of the world.

From Get Out of Your Own Way at Work… and Help Others Do the Same by Mark Goulston (Putnam, 2005). For more information on Dr. Mark go to:

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