If your communication is not constructive, then you’ve lost the whole point of communicating.

If your communication is not constructive, then you’ve lost the whole point of communicating.

Communication is easy. You just speak. Or, in some cases, your nonverbal communication does it for you. So what’s so hard about that?

If we communicate, we ought to be capable of ensuring that which we intend to communicate is understood by the other party. Otherwise, we are totally wasting our time.

How do you know another party is really going to understand what you are saying?

In marketing, we are taught to identify the intended audience of the communication and tailor that to their specific likes, interests, demographics and (presumed) intelligence levels. I used presumed parenthetically because whatever I seem to write for advertising is usually met with “dumb it down, so the audience will understand.” This is part of my impetus to write my musings in the morning. I just do not care if people understand every word that I use. They may either look it up, or make an inference or get it wrong. It is wholly immaterial to me because I am not selling anything, just communicating ideas.

When you have something important to say, you must recognize where in your statement the other party is going to close down and stop listening. That can happen at the first point of contention in your discussion, or the first point of misunderstanding through intent or context. Along this path, your receiving party starts to hear their own voice over yours saying contrary things until eventually you fade into the background like Charlie Brown’s parents.

The art of successful communication starts with hooking the other party into whatever it is that you are speaking about. Finding a common ground, a humorous anecdote, or similar, to break the ice and take that person into a non defensive space in which they feel a commonality with you enough to give you a few seconds more of their attention before that wanders off again.

In that tiny window of new opportunity lies the entire experience. With the ice broken, and that invitation to share a couple of thoughts, you are in the sweet spot of delivering whatever point or message you are hoping to share. One that is poignant or informative or curious or even contrary. You have this tiny, precious moment to decide how you might connect with them in a way that earns further trust, or at a minimum, a willingness to hear you out.

If your skills are savvy, and your desire to really connect with them, pure, you will find that opportunity to expand into the depth of that which you are most desirous of sharing. Here you have a chance to really make the connection and find the right words to deepen it with every sentence. 

Compatible with these skills must also be the art of reading your audience. Are they interested, or are you boring them? Do they really care about your expression, or is this a painful experience for them that they wish to extricate themselves from as soon as they may? Their nonverbal expression, their ability to keep meeting your intentional look into their eyes, their tiny signals of acknowledgement such as a nod of the head or a tiny smile on a key point, are all equally important in knowing how to continue to navigate your discussion with them, sentence by sentence, thought by thought.

And finally, the art of listening. If you have a point to make, make it succinctly and then stop. Give them a chance to respond. Otherwise, everything else you continue to share is lost because all they want to do is respond or rebut anything you just said. Listen carefully to what they say. Watch their nonverbal body language for defensive postures and similar because that is what creates your understanding of what they are really thinking.

If you are not understanding these fundamental tools of communication, you are most probably leaving opportunities behind, where they may have been won. You are also probably creating disappointment and unhappiness, where you might have found your success story.

The only thing you have at your disposal is the art of understanding. Without it, you are spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere near as far in life as you might have.

Happy Sunday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!