Communication is not just about the written or spoken word. In fact the words we speak account for only 10% of the messages we send out. The tone of our voice, its pace and style is more impactful than the actual words used, so too is our body posture and facial expressions. Communication is a whole body process and getting it wrong can be costly

Communication is important in our lives and particularly at work.  Messages can be misunderstood and misinterpreted if delivered in the wrong way. Communication is about listening and not just with your ears! By listening I mean absorbing the information that is being presented to you, looking out for body signals, the voice pitch and pace and above all the facial expressions used. Most people are unaware that they may be saying one thing while communicating another.

Take an example, your line manager is telling you and the team about a new opportunity and how exciting it will be. The conversation is upbeat and on the face of it, it sounds like you are going to be getting involved in a new development.  The words are all positive and there is nothing in the sound of voice to give any indication that you will not be involved. Take a moment to watch more carefully, who does your manager make most eye contact with? Which part of the room is the sound being directed to? Has your line manager looked at you directly in the eye at any point during the meeting? Who else is in the room and what does their body language say?

It is important to communicate well and be able to read subtle signs. If you are selling a new product or service then when is the right time to close the deal? What signals do you need to look for? Communication is not just speaking and hearing it is about using all of your senses to pick up on signals and understand them.

How good are you at communicating? Try this scenario and see if you are using all of your senses to communicate.

You are sitting at your desk when your line manager comes up to you and asks if you can come to a meeting at 2pm in their office.  Your line manager does not give you a reason for the meeting, is fast to move away from your desk so you are unable to ask the purpose or who else might be attending. The message is delivered at a fast pace and in a low voice. This request is not a typical action from your line manager. As your manager walks away you notice that s/he has a bit of a spring in their step. Relationships with your manager have always been good so this approach is very different from anything you have experienced.

Which of the following statements best describes what has been communicated to you?

  1. Your manager has good news that they want to share with you
  2. Your manager has bad news that they want to share with you
  3. Your manager has a difficult and confidential task they want you to undertake
  4. Your manager is struggling with a task and needs your input
  5. Your manager is under pressure and needs someone to talk to
  6. Your manager is unthinking and has left you feeling exposed and vulnerable
  7. Your manager is acting out of character and is clearly stressed

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