How to find your way in the jungle of communication
Communication is the keyword of our era. Whether it is digital, marketing or business communication, it seems to be the secret for success.
Maybe it really is, or at the very least it’s an essential ingredient in the recipe. Lately I’ve had the opportunity to dig deeper into the different meanings hiding behind the apparently trivial idea of communication (and I’ve written down a free personal interpretation in this article, in Italian). But is there a way – or more than one way – to communicate effectively?
The meaning of communication
It is now well known that communication doesn’t just mean using words. Paraverbal and non-verbal aspects can make a difference in conveying an entirely different message to the original intention of our words. How can we effectively handle these aspects? For instance, we should pay attention to proxemics, the invisible bubble surrounding each and every one of us, which we are best to stay in if we don’t want to appear invasive or intrusive.
Proxemics is just an example of what we should think about when communicating, but there are other important elements that we should always keep in mind.
Our beloved context
If it’s your job to convey messages from one culture to another or if you’re (un)lucky enough to hang out with translators, you’ll certainly know that many of us love to use the expression “it depends on the context”, often making a little fun of ourselves. But context really is essential if you want to know how to find your way in the jungle of communication. I bet you wouldn’t address your employer or your clients in the same way you do with your friends at the pub! Don’t like formality? Well, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to meet someone who will immediately put you at ease, no matter who they are. But in the meantime, make sure you remember the importance of context.
Turn on your webcam!
Due to the pandemic, we’ve got used to maintaining most of our interpersonal relationships in a non-physical space, the digital world. Using a tool like this for communication has a number of limitations. Gestures and expressions aren’t always there to help and the same goes for the chemistry (be it positive or negative) that develops between two human beings meeting each other that helps us understand how to behave with that person. If on one hand, these aspects are a disadvantage, on the other hand we can benefit from them (don’t tell me you’ve never turned your webcam off during a boring meeting!). What really matters is learning how to manage the different communicative aspects of each place, be it physical or virtual.
On the same wavelength
Speaking the same language doesn’t always mean speaking the same language. Yes, you read it correctly. There are many types of languages, even though we believe that the natural language that we use (Italian, English, Arabic…) is enough to share a common ground. In fact, we might also understand a bit about someone who doesn’t speak our own natural language. That’s because each and every one of us communicates in our own special way, and understanding the style of the person you’re talking to might help you be on the same page as them. Neuro-linguistic programming teaches us that we can take advantage of identifying the semantic sphere used by our interlocutor. Do they mainly use visual, sound or kinaesthetic (body-related) words and expressions? If you can recognise this and adapt accordingly, you’re on to a winner.
Communicating… for real
Something that we often mistakenly overlook when communicating is that we truly have to communicate! This means not leaving room for free interpretation and not taking anything for granted. An idea might be obvious to you, with your past experiences and your mindset, but maybe not for the person who’s reading your email right now, wondering what on earth you meant by that sentence. Expliciting is the keyword. Our beautiful natural languages offer a million ways to do it in an elegant, ironic or funny way… The important thing is doing it. Never leave room for interpretation, because that’s how misunderstandings arise and they can be very tough to solve.
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you deal with communication. Or maybe you’re looking for a solution to communicate with that Italian client of yours that seems to come from another planet. In that case, I’m here for you! As I said, you might also be able to communicate to a certain extent with someone who doesn’t speak your language, but if you’re really looking to establish a fruitful business or human relationship with a foreign person or company, then a translator is what you need. You might also need one in your own language, just to be sure that your content is spotless, natural and consistent. So, if your communication strategy needs translation or revision, get in touch! 😉