Regeneration Settlement 3
THE COMMUNICATIONS CENTRE is the third settlement in REGENERATION In this settlement you get the chance to consider how you communicate with other people. Of course there are many factors involved when communicating with others. So, we thought it would be wise to initially focus our attention on just 3 ingredients for your consumption: listening skills, verbal communication and nonverbal communication.
‘Listening skills’ is the 7th ingredient we need to consume for our REGENERATION and the first ingredient in the Communications Centre. This ingredient is vital to effective communication. So, to focus you mind we would like you to consider a few questions. What are listening skills? When do you employ them and why do you employ them? As you consider each of those questions you might like to contemplate your own behaviour when you are listening to other people. Are you actively engaging with the people you are listening to or are you just absorbing everything they say? How do you let people know that you are listening to them? How do you encourage them to continue talking? How do you stop them talking? Your answers to those questions will spotlight a very small selection of listening skills. To highlight some poor listening skills, you might like to mull over the following questions, ‘Are you listening to what people are saying to you or are you actually judging what they are saying’? Identifying the difference between those two actions will significantly impact your relationship, one way or another. Perhaps you are the sort of person who likes to interrupt the speaker, talk over them and challenge what they have to say or maybe you are just waiting for a pause in their speech, so that you can get your own point across? So, why don’t you ask yourself again, ‘Am I listening’?
Identifying the people we choose to listen to can reflect on our own personality. So, why not ask yourself a few more questions. ‘Who am I really listening to’? ‘Why am I listening to them’? ‘Do I only listen to my superiors or do I listen with equal conviction to my peers, subordinates and friends’? When we ask ourselves these types of question, we can find that our answers simply highlight how our status can affect our communication skills and our relationships. To continue this theme further you might ask yourself why you listen to other people. Are you taking on a supportive role by listening to others? Are you looking to challenge the opinion of others? Are you listening to better inform yourself? Or, are you listening to gain direction and inspiration? There are many reasons for listening, so write out your own reasons and record your answers. The more answers you have the greater your ability to analyse your current behaviour and ultimately your personality. Your answers will also become helpful to you in the away environment.
FLAVOUR SAVER: We employ our listening skills for many different reasons. Focusing on which reasons we prefer to engage with, as a percentage of our overall listening, can spotlight our personal ability to effect change in our environment. Listening to other people is one way of showing those people that we value and respect their opinion. It is a great way to build relationships and provide support within a group. Listening skills will always help us widen our knowledge base. They can also help us verify and reinforce what we currently believe we already know or they can provide us with stimulating and challenging information. Good listening skills can allow us to inadvertently help other people find and organise their thoughts… Listening with an open mind shows behavioural flexibility. When you listen with a closed mind you effectively begin building the walls of a self-imposed prison. More on this in the away environment.
TAKE AWAY INGREDIENT 7: Listening skills will inadvertently display your personal or professional characteristics. Good listening skills will increase your popularity, your knowledge base and your professional standing. Would you mind saying that again?
Verbal communication is the 8th ingredient we need to consume for our REGENERATION and the second ingredient in the communications centre. So, if you would like to get the full flavour from this ingredient, then you might consider how you communicate with other people using verbal communication. To achieve this, you may choose to ask yourself a few questions, 'Do you communicate with authority or do you prefer a more empathic style of communication? Can you switch between those two styles? Which style is the most effective and can you deliver that style of verbal communication in all situations? Your answers to those questions will highlight the benefits to you of using an appropriate style to get your message across. However, for some people the greatest questions they ask themselves are, ‘Do I actually have a voice, and will anybody actually listen to me’? The answer to those questions is always ‘YES’ and we will provide more direction on those matters in the away environment.
To further analyse your verbal communication skills you might choose to reflect on how you construct your verbal communication. Asking yourself the following questions will certainly focus your mind and open up your echo chamber. Do you use long sentences or short sentences when communicating? Do you shock people by using unfamiliar words or phrases to gain their attention? Do you have an in-built megaphone that broadcasts your thoughts to the whole of the civilised world or do you prefer to engage with people in more intimate surroundings, when communicating? There are many ways to construct and enhance your verbal communication skills. However, if you want your communication to be successful, you must accept the following presupposition ‘the meaning of the communication is the response you get’. We will cover this in more detail in the away environment. Notwithstanding that we ask you to consider your choice of words when communicating.
Are you using words that are simple and generally familiar to your audience or are you representing a landing page for the OED? Are your acronyms, such as OED (Oxford English Dictionary) acceptable in mixed and variable company or should they only be delivered in appropriate professional arenas and in context? Does GM refer to something being genetically modified or does it stand for general manager. Might General Motors in America lay claim to GM or is it truly Her Britannic Majesty’s abbreviation for the George Medal? The words you use and how you deliver them will also have a bearing on your verbal communication. So, do you speak slowly and deliberately when communicating or do you prefer to challenge your listener with a cacophonous volley of mispronounced words in the shortest possible time and out of context? Remember in the home environment you are only supposed to accept and acknowledge your current behaviour.
FLAVOUR SAVER: An audience who have chosen to read a document, listen to a story or engage in dialogue have all done so for one reason. They have come to achieve something. Only those people know what they have set out to achieve. They might read a document to gain knowledge or access information to fulfil a task. People who listen to stories might be escaping from their own reality or simply searching for inspiration. Another group of people might engage in dialogue to debate a ‘fact’, provide support in their community or issue instructions… An audience forms when people believe they can access some sense of personal pleasure. So, your task as an orator, mentor or author is two-fold. Remove any ambiguities from your work, whilst promoting and maintaining an audience’s desire to read, hear or learn more.
TAKE AWAY INGREDIENT 8: The meaning of the communication is the response you get. So, keep it as simple as possible.
‘Nonverbal communication’ is the 9th ingredient we need to consume for our REGENERATION and the third ingredient in the communications centre. So, if we want to absorb this ingredient without telling the world about it, we first need to consider what nonverbal communication means to us. To find that out, you might like to contemplate your responses to the 2 challenges we now present to you.
The first challenge is a question - how could you verbally communicate a different meaning to each of 3 diverse social groups; whilst expressing the same words? The social groups for your consideration are: your work colleagues, emergency service staff (paramedics, fire fighters, the plumber…) and a really close friend who you haven’t seen, heard from or had contact with for a long time. The sentence we would like you to express is, ‘I’m really glad to see you’. As you think about each of those social groups you can apply that question and analyse how you achieved your aim. Writing out your responses and your findings will not only focus your mind, it will provide you with a list of nonverbal communication skills. These skills will generally fall under one of two categories, paralinguistic skills or body language. Further analysis of your findings will highlight your preference for one or the other or even both; in response to a given situation. Recording these findings will be helpful later, when you enter the away environment.
The second challenge we present, asks you to reflect on all the nonverbal communication you witness and use on a daily basis. You might like to think about how you acknowledge somebody you know from a distance without using words. How would you use your body to acknowledge them? Giving that response a little more thought and focus will help you identify ALL the elements associated with your response. These might include your head movement, your arm movement, your hand movement and your facial expression. Of course the words, facial and expression when combined represent a blanket statement. So, why not contemplate the message your eyes and mouth are conveying.
Moving on to a different situation, you may be able to recall a moment in your past when somebody invaded your space. How did you feel and what nonverbal action did you take? Alternatively, you might imagine yourself in a meeting; where you are considering the course of direction being proposed. How you would nonverbally convey your agreement or disagreement to a colleague; without using words? I’m sure you can think of many, many more situations where you feel it is appropriate to apply a variety of nonverbal communication cues. So, please do. You might also like to recall and record some of your favourites or focus on the ones you are conscious of and use on a daily basis. Write them down and consider how they enhance or diminish the message you would like to convey. Analysing and recording your preferred nonverbal communication skills will be beneficial to you now and later on; in the away environment.
FLAVOUR SAVER: Before we could write or talk we communicated with each other using nonverbal communication. This skill is as informative to us today as it was back in your childhood. Members of my family would communicate their approval for my behaviour with nonverbal communication cues, such as: a thumbs-up, a nod of approval or hand clapping. Conversely, I learnt to acknowledge my less than great performances through other nonverbal communication cues. A shake of the head, a frown or a wrinkling of the face, each would be used to convey the displeasure being experienced by those people surrounding me. As a child I was fortunate to be raised in Liverpool. Nowhere else have I experienced or witnessed such a passion for picking one side of an argument over another. Raising our voices, posturing and explosive expletives are all types of nonverbal communication; which would add meaning to the words of an oration. However, I have deliberately told you of my experiences using the first person. This is an important factor because our own associations with both verbal and nonverbal communications will be different to those of other people; even those within our own culture. Our cultural environment will become a shaping ground for our nonverbal communication associations; as we climb a variety of learning ladders. In the UK a nonverbal communication, such as a flash of lights whilst driving a car would effectively offer either thanks to another individual or invite other road users to exercise their freedom of movement. The same communication on a German autobahn would mean get out of the way!
TAKE AWAY INGREDIENT 9: You cannot not communicate.