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Chapter 2. Communicating with Colleagues... > The Communication Process

The Communication Process

As far as communicating with others is concerned, we must keep certain things in mind.

  • Communication is irreversible. Once a word has left your mouth, there is no calling it back. True, you can attempt to make amends for words you wish you had not uttered, but the initial impact of your words is bound to remain in the receiver’s mind for a long time. Thinking well on your feet is truly a matter of thinking well—period.

  • Communication is constant. You may think you can avoid communicating by being silent. But the truth is, even your silence speaks. It has been said that you cannot not communicate. So many aspects of your being are sending out signals or messages to others in the immediate environment. The signals may be misinterpreted, but they are nonetheless being sent.

    “Object language,” for example, communicates information about the type of person you are by identifying your personal preferences. If you smoke or don’t smoke, if you drive a Porsche or a Volkswagen, if you wear designer suits or less formal attire, if you bite your nails or smile excessively—all of the choices you have made or habits you have formed are conveying information about you to other people.

    Someone walking into your home could look at the books you have on your bookshelf and probably form a fairly accurate impression of you. The way you have decorated your home or your office is another source of data about the kind of person you are. While you can never escape communicating, you can make choices about what symbols you wish to use in the process of communicating. Part of your success in responding easily to unanticipated questions or events will depend on the messages you send—messages that use words as well as those that do not.

  • Communication connects us. We may not wish to have any connection formed at all, but communication between two individuals creates a bonding, if only for that instant of their meeting. As a rule, the bonding extends far beyond the casual connections that are made between two strangers.

    In the workplace, we are inextricably bound to others in our immediate environment. We may not especially like some of these people and we may try to minimize our encounters with them, but the fact remains there is a symbiotic relationship among individuals who work together.

    Recognizing that we are joined to achieve a mutual goal and not to cause friction will help us to achieve some degree of harmony. A spoken reminder of this mutual goal will help reduce conflict.

  • Communication can always be improved. In both your professional and your personal activities, you may encounter people who are supremely self-confident and perhaps a little stubborn. You may not feel comfortable around such individuals at first, but with a little practice, you will soon be able to “hold your own in time.”

    Even the best communicators seek to improve their communication style. They revise their words, they practice what they will say, they ask others for feedback, they learn new words, they study the style of people they admire. In short, they are continually looking for ways to hone their words so their messages will be properly carved and clearly understood.

    Don’t expect to think well on your feet every time you need to. Seek opportunities that will help you sharpen your verbal skills. If you do make a mistake or say something inappropriate, learn from the experience and exercise greater caution the next time. Watch how others handle tense situations and imitate their style.



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