The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw
Communication is the transmitting and receiving of information verbally and non verbally.
Communication is continuous. It doesn’t stop when you close your mouth. For example, you may be walking alone and in silence but you are still communicating.
• Is your step brisk? You are sending signals that you are on an important mission.
• If your step is slow and relaxed, the message you are passing on is that life is going well for you.
• What about when you drag your feet? You are transmitting the message that your heart is heavy due to some challenge in life.
To better understand communication, we will use a simple analogy; a cell phone. A cell phone is only as good as its ability to transmit and receive signals.
Remember the Jones’s? The underlying cause of their problems was their inability to effectively transmit and receive signals from each other. You need to understand that the WAY you transmit information determines how the same information will be received. This is not as simple as it sounds. Let me use you as an example( yes, you may not know me but I know you very well).
Remember the time you had a great idea and yet no one got what you were trying to say? Or that time you tried explaining what led you to making a certain mistake(which we won’t mention in public) and instead it became a heated argument?
In both instances your message was as clear as day in your mind. Unfortunately it was not received the way you pictured it in your mind. The reason being the way you transmitted the information.
“But I expressed myself clearly!”
The Communication Gap
Yes, in your MIND it was clear because you knew what you were trying to communicate. You need to understand that there is always a “gap” when it comes to communication. A communication gap if you may. This gap is a communication barrier.
There is usually a gap between what you want to say and what you actually end up saying. The WAY you transmit your message determines the size of the gap. The greater the gap, the more the receiver will misunderstand you. To communicate effectively this gap has to be narrowed down. Take our cell phone for example. The further it is from a transmission tower, the poorer the signal.
Overcoming this communication barrier or gap leads to good communication skills.
4 Powerful Ways To Eliminate The Communication Gap (And Improve Communication Skills)
There are four main factors that determine whether your communication will be effective or not. I call them the A, B, C, D’s to bridging the communication gap.
• The attitude with which the message is passed on
• The attitude with which the message is received
Attitude can’t be heard or seen but it can be felt. Attitude encompasses your feelings toward:
a). The message being conveyed
b). The recipient of the message
This is where communication becomes complicated. To transmit your message effectively your attitude must always be adjusted to suite the situation. For example when a man tells a woman he loves her, his feelings and words are automatically in sync.
Take the same couple, the Jones’s perhaps. Mr Jones loves Mrs. Jones. But love doesn’t mean they will never get into a heated argument. In the heat of the argument both parties must adjust their attitudes if they want to resolve the issue amicably. This is not automatic as in the first example, it takes effort and self control.
When you allow attitudes to reign, they may end up creating a gap in your communication.
#2. Body Posture
Words are a wonderful form of communication, but they will never replace kisses and punches. Ashleigh Brilliant
Remember, communication is also non verbal. A key element in communication is body posture. Your body posture transmits information as much as your words, sometimes even more.
Elements Of Body Posture
• Eye contact
• Mouth movement (smile, frown, open, gritting of teeth, e.t.c)
• Limbs:- shifting of legs, hand gesturing
• shoulder position:- slumped, straight, leaning in
• Proximity. If the person you are talking to is in the same place as you, proximity can also determine the way your message is being transmitted. Closeness means I am comfortable with you. Moving fast towards you implies the person wants to harm you.
All these different postures communicate how you feel and what think about the message being conveyed.
Be mindful of your posture. It can either help you communicate or drive a wedge between you and the person you are in conversation with.
#3. Context Of The Conversation
Context means the environment or situation that forms the backdrop of the conversation.
The context of the conversation determines how information is received. Arguing in public will drastically increase the communication gap. This is because the context will force both parties to put up their defences. It will all be about emerging victorious so people can see me as such.
The setting of a conversation is crucial in determining the size of the communication gap. It is wisdom to wait for the right time and place. Even if you feel like a volcano on the brink of erupting.
Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
William Butler Yeats
Words are simply vehicles we use to convey what is on our minds. We may all use the same words but we don’t understand them the same way.
Dialect means variations of the same language. I will take it a bit further and define dialect as the difference in understanding the same word.
Due to various reasons like background or culture, some words may have different meanings to different people. This is why sometimes you get misunderstood or misunderstand others. The issue is not that the other person is dull or stubborn. The issue is dialect.
How do you narrow the dialect gap?
#1. Understand your audience
#2. Use simple words
#3. Be patient
#4. Ensure you have been well understood