Communication is important in our lives. As children, we learn to crawl, then walk and then talk. These days communication is quite complicated and with the power of the internet, communication has become global. We communicate to connect to people socially and more importantly to learn.
If you want to communicate effectively and learn, ask questions and observe. We can often learn a lot by observing how people answer our questions. Are they trying to convince us that they are right? Are they trying to sell us an idea or even something that will cost us money? Are they nervous or excited? Why? Do they sound confident or full of doubts? These are questions you can ask when observing the body language of others. But how about when we say something? Are we being too forceful and trying to sell an idea? Are we nervous or confident? Are we expressing an opinion that is well thought out or just trying to impress?
We also express ourselves in writing, either in a traditional letter or using email or other electronic means. If you are using email then you give an impression, depending on how the email is written and the presentation. This blog has it’s own format, the title, the image at the beginning, the justification, font style and font size; have all been carefully considered. Does that attention to detail say something about me? It would be deemed important if this was a CV or a covering letter applying for a job.
Social media is a popular form of communication now. I use LinkedIn and post in groups and answer questions. I also post a lot of information on Facebook and I send tweets out on Twitter. I try to be consistent, links to my blogs are posted automatically on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This one will also be featured on the YamYam a local news site. I’m communicating in short links, but they are portals to my blogs. I write about 10,000 words a week on my blogs; that is a lot of information and opinion. We all want to be influential and people do read my blogs and I communicate in an honest a way as I can. People tend to agree with you, if you’re honest!
If you are trying to get across an unpopular opinion to an audience that is hostile to that opinion; you have to learn a little about them. Take the CEO of a large supermarket. He might be in favour of tax cuts for the rich and welfare cuts for the poor. He is not going to be in favour of a higher minimum wage for workers. Now if you asked that CEO what affect a 10% rise on the minimum wage would have on the supermarket chain’s sales. Then follow that up with asking what affect a 10% rise on benefits would have on sales. You would have him thinking differently. He might conclude that such increases would lead to increased sales. He might even conclude that such increases were a good thing; if increased sales also meant an increased bonus for him! It’s not what you say that is important sometimes; it’s how you say it and word it.
Single words can make a good impression or a bad impression. One profanity posted on Facebook can have people thinking you are someone who can’t express yourselves. It can also give people the impression that you aren’t very smart. Posting something quite clever and funny will win you some support though. It is important to be friendly on Facebook. On LinkedIn, try to appear friendly and professional, but not officious. On Twitter, be brief and link to more information; also read tweets and try to make it two way communication.
In all communication try to help people, understand people and be sociable. Even on a professional site like LinkedIn, you should try to come across as professional, but approachable and likeable. Ask what you can do for others, not what other can do for you.
Empathy is putting yourselves in someone else’s shoes and imagining what they feel like. This can make communication very much easier, especially when communicating with your family and friends on a very personal level. Listen, watch and learn to find out how they feel, before offering an opinion.
There are more blog and another psychology blog today on a zillion ideas. Please comment if you have a question about communication or psychology.