Communication is a double edged sword; which is your edge?

What is communication? How can we define it? First of all let’s understand it’s origin and it’s meaning. Communication is derived from the Latin word “communis” meaning to share something or hold in common. Communication can be defined in following ways:

Communication is the process of exchanging information, ideas, thoughts, speech, signals, writing or behaviour.  First, let’s try to answer the most pertinent management question. What is important in motivating people, forming a successful team, getting all your work done? Answer is simple. Successful communication skills! It demands efforts, it needs motivation.  Motivational speaker, Tony Robin stated that for effective communication we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceiveg. So we must respect each other’s perspective, then only we would lead to a successful communication.

Arguing is not communication. It is noise. But responding without understanding is also not communication. We all have our own choice to say yes or no. That choice is the medium of communication. If you express that answer politely then only you can have an effective communication. “You should know how to present your point in front of others. There should be no chance of confusion with you.”

Winston Churchill said “it is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip”. If you qualify telling even rude words in such a way that they turn to as good words for the listener than you are the master of communication. This is how communication impacts the world.

In today’s fast going world one needs to understand the importance of connecting with others and the ways to do so. Most of us take the meaning of word communication as verbal conversation. Does it mean only verbal communication?  No, it’s half the statement. Communication can be verbal, nonverbal or the body language. It simply states that in today’s world what is said is important but what is not said is equally important, Even the hidden objective is taken into consideration.  Communication skills are of more importance than anything else, as it holds the personality of a person.  As the old saying says that there is a large difference in the word ‘having something to say and having to say something’. They look similar but meaning of both is different.

Content, being the king in communication, plays a major role in changing the whole personality. Here again who takes the hold of audience or the listeners? More patient the audience more is your benefit. But understanding audience is critical. They can understand even what you have not spoken. You might be thinking what is the difference? Difference is as clear. The one who understands what you have not spoken is living in the present. He is there with his mind and soul in what you are doing. Your communication skills including verbal, nonverbal and your body language play a vital role here. So if the listener is impressed by your communication skills then only he will be active in the process and further interaction or communication is possible.

It’s not one way process. It is open and two way path. It can be either the speaker affects the listeners by asking questions, seeing to his body language or understanding him/her, can be the other way round also. Again a question arises on the lifestyle which you are living. Are you satisfied with it? Is your concentration level upto the mark to meet the present day requirement? Or you are still in some dreams while a lecture or another topic has started?

Today’s requirement demands near 100% accuracy and concentration for a wonderful and beneficial communication. The famous Management Consultant, Peter Drucker has stated that most important thing in communication does, understand what is not said. Observing this way, you can understand the full concept of what is being spoken. Hence communication is not defined by its effectiveness but   the response of effectiveness. Audience plays a major role no matter it is one or many. Until and unless communication serves the purpose of the listeners, it is of no use. A well said quote will completely set your minds to it. “Communication is dream more – compare less, listen more – talk less, love more – argue less, hope more – fear less, relax more – worry less, believe more – complain less, play more – work less.”

These quotes can be taken as the steps to a successful communication. Author of the book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey has well said that often people have character strength but they lack communication skills. And that affects the quality of relationships. Generation gap is the best example to support the above statement.

Communication must not be complicated. It may not use very extensive vocabulary, it may be as simple but as clear as possible. If ideas are not drawn into action, they just turn to be simple paper work. Only with the help of communication skills ideas can turn the dreams to a reality.

4 Intriguing Possibilities of Communications 

Let’s examine four possible combinations of speaking & listening. This will enable us to understand what communication can do to our lives and to our organisations.

Possibility 1.Effective speaking but poor listening. If this is the leader’s characteristics the results could be as under:

It will increase your focus. You may have generated good followers & good soldiers. But the potential leaders will leave. There will be practically no innovation. Stress level will increase.

Possibility 2.Effective speaking and active listening. That is the perfect combination for the leader. The focus of the leader and of the organisation will remain in the forefront. Things will happen fast. Loyalty of employees will increase. Appreciation of mind and ability to enjoy the work will bring in more breakthroughs, more innovations. People will collaborate with each other and also compete with each other. The best will blossom with the leader’s effective speech and active listening. An atmosphere of sustainable leadership will prevail.

Possibility 3: Poor speaking but active listening. It will amount to lack of focus. Also, waste of time & money. There will be thrust on management by committees. People might get an impression that anything goes.

Meanwhile active listening will also result in the positives. The employees will become more self-expressed. Application of mind by them will increase. There would be greater innovation.

Possibility 4: Poor speaking and poor listening. It will be nothing but a slow death of the enterprise. The death of textile mills in Mumbai & Ahmadabad can be attributed to this syndrome. Misunderstanding and conflicts will rule. Opportunities will be missed. There would be high rate of attrition. Isolation will result in fragmentation, and finally extinction.

Just perusing the above possibilities would shake our slumber. Importance of communication will then be fully realised. So, I will deal with both aspect of communication- good speaking and good listening.

What should one do to become an excellent Communicator?

First of all it is necessary to have strong content. Content is the king. Effective communications take this into account more than any other aspect of management or even life. Content means domain knowledge. You can’t fool people with shallow thoughts. Much less you can impress them. Lot of hard work goes into acquiring knowledge. The biggest problem is seen when you have worthwhile knowledge but you can’t use into your advantage due to lack of effective speech. Your expression remains impaired. People would barely know that you are a storehouse of useful information.

Then what should you do? Become a good speaker. Practice the art and science of speaking clearly, confidently and convincingly.

How do you speak clearly? You must understand that speech in the result of decision to communicate. You must also understand what goes into making voice and the speech. The process in simple words is as follows. First of all ‘thinking’ clarifies the idea you want to project to the listener or a group of listeners. Then brain sends a signal to the lungs and some breath is released. Breath strikes the vocal cord to produce sound. But the words are created by the speech organs. So in order to speak clearly, think clearly. Cultivate habit of deep breathing. It enables to have sufficient breath to support strength of your voice. This will also enable you to speak longer sentence without breathing in between. The flow of speech will enable ideas to flow smoothly.

Listening intently is equally important for good communication 

Communication does not mean only effective speaking. In fact, it is the beginning point. But even more important is active listening. Active listening will bring about the results that you are looking for. You communicate with someone or a group of listeners with an objective. How can you influence others? By listening to them actively or with your speech. How do you find whether you are a good listener or not? I give below a checklist which is self- explanatory.

You must always use this checklist to prepare for any important meeting particularly when you have to speak to an audience!

1. Don’t think of what you are going to say next when another person is speaking. Just focus on understanding and assimilating what he/she has to say.

2. You must listen with an open mind. Don’t try to relate with your own experience, similar experience. When someone is relating a story in support of his argument, your tendency to evaluate should be given a pause. Never be judgmental, as they say.

3. When you are listening, try to recreate mentally what the other person is saying objectively.

4. Try to see things from the speaker’s point of view. Empathise and be compassionate while listening.

5. Try to uncover the intent of the speaker. All speakers may not be terse. Their verbosity may require a little extra effort on your part to understand the intent. Make this extra effort.

6. Think what results you can produce through listening rather than speaking. If you want to influence people, you will be amazed to observe how listening comes in handy and helpful.

7. Listen a minute longer than it is comfortable. That extra minute will give you extra input. In any case, you are having a dialogue for understanding the other’s point of view.

8. Last but not the least; you must remember that your words of advice will be seen as unwanted noise. Never give an advice unless asked for. If you are not convinced and the solution demands that you must express your views, do that and say we agree to disagree!

Communications pervade our lives in more ways than we know.

Right from the time we get up in the morning, we start communicating. We speak to our people at home. Each word that we speak has some kind of signification. Either we request for help or we do something for others at home.

We receive telephonic calls. Our talk on telephone is either verbose or we are to the point. We efficacy of our words determine to what extent we can influence the people we speak to.

If we word to list all the jobs that we have to do during the day, our productivity will be reflected in the complication of our tasks. Normally one would not relate productivity with our speech or with our communication.

If you are a team leader, you’re expected to motivate your team members to perform certain tasks. Your success as a leader depends on how successful your team members are in their performance.

If you are working for someone, your performance will depend on how best you can assimilate the instruction. Evidently you may need some clarification on the job assign to you this will also require you to communicate.

Effective communication has certain prerequisites. These are:

1. Language: you must have adequate knowledge of the language. These include grammar a reasonable vocabulary and ability to make perfect sentences to express exactly what you want to convey.

2. Body language: If you are talking in person your body language plays an important role in your interaction.

3. If you are talking on the telephone the clarity of your speech and be efficacy of expression will determine your effectiveness.

4.  I f you are sending a written communication making some request, again the result will depend on the effectiveness of your letter or Email.

5. If you’re communicating with a group of friends through social media, the success of your task will depend on the words that you use while communicating.

6. If you are making a presentation to a group of people, your objective will be archive partially or holy depending on your performance during the communication.

7. If you are a teacher and teach the students. The knowledge that your students may acquire depending on how effective you are in your expression.

8. If you are an advocate you will be able to convince the judge about you clients in a since provided you use the language effectively. Otherwise even your solid evidence can sometimes be our looked.

9. As a journalist you are supposed to report the news as it may happen. You are not expected to include your opinion in your report. But if you don’t have adequate control over your written or spoken language, you will not be able to remain objective.

10. There is no scope for any letup or fault by the General or the officer who is leading an operation.

What has been said above, when assimilated, will empower you to always use the ‘Double Edged Sword’ of Communications to make you a winner.

Thanking for reading,

Four Secrets of Happy Living!


Life has many facets: habits, aspirations, goals, significance etc. It is rare that there has been an artist who was also a good householder and a progressive human being. When I say a good householder, I mean one who facilitates the family in all respects. He not only provides for them materially but also emotionally. This is so, typical for a family man. But when we talk of an individual who doesn’t have a family, they too will have to find out their goals; what they want to do in life by controlling or changing their habits. In these circumstances it is difficult to imagine an artist who is totally devoted to his/her passion for art putting similar emphasis/importance on all the other aspects of life, as said above.
Therefore I think we must understand and practice the ‘Secrets of Happy Living’.

  1. The first secret, according to me, would be ‘Self Awareness’. An individual needs to be conscious of his own body, state of mind including thoughts, actions, ideas, feeling and interaction with others. Besides, self awareness has to be a continuous process. It’s only then that you can mould your thoughts, actions and relationship with others. Without doubt, this requires a constant review. The process teaches you how to go about finding solutions to the problems.
  2. The second secret is setting priorities. It is not only fixing the priorities but also scheduling them according to their relative importance. We must remember that when we schedule a task and provide a time slot, it is not necessary that time allocated will always be found sufficient. Time management is another important aspect to be reviewed from time to time. The discipline that you require for constant follow up requires a logical approach. It should have nothing to do with the moods of the person. When a particular task is not finished as per schedule you need to provide the next slot and abide by it. This protocol alone can bring about the desired results.
  3. The third secret is necessary to develop a keen sense of focus. To my mind doing only one thing at a time is the best approach. As far as possible there should be no interruption. Equally important is your total mind and soul into what you are doing. One has to start living in the present, moment to moment. Deliberate effort may be required for some time but then it becomes your habit and you start navigating you life as if you are flying an airplane.
  4. Lastly, the fourth secret is your speech. It is critically important. Because we have to interact with colleagues, family members and the society at large, we must choose our words and use them effectively. Any wrong choice or casual approach towards this very important aspect of human personality can be disastrous. Speech must always be clear; words should be chosen with discretion and spoken effectively. Speech helps to maintain and improve our relations in any environment.

To conclude I would like to say that a successful life in modern times requires us to know and practice these and any other secret that works for us.
Thanks for reading.

Speech Spells Your Style

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Speech is, perhaps, one of the most important aspects of communication, today. Speech comprises the words that you speak and more importantly how you speak these words. Speech is not taught in schools and colleges. We just pick it up – from our parents, teachers, friends and others in the society with whom we interact. Some of the mistakes that people make in our circle are also adopted by us, though unknowingly. When we set out to improve, we have to unlearn many things. Just because we have been committing these mistakes again and again these form a part of our speech habits. Speech blemishes can be corrected with knowledgeable guidance and a lot of practice. In this regard let’s deal with the following six items:

  1. Knowledge of language grammar.
  2. Your vocabulary in that language.
  3. How you construct your sentences.
  4. Clarity in your voice.
  5. Your knowledge and ability to pronounce the words correctly and clearly.
  6. Pace, pause and tone of your speech.

Knowledge of grammar Normally, it is assumed that knowledge of grammar is only bookish ability and it’s useful only for written communications. This is a fallacy and totally incorrect. You can make nice sentences easy to understand only if you are adequately comfortable in the grammar of the language.
Learning or building of vocabulary is a lifelong process. It should never cease. Difficult, fancy or fashionable words need not be a part of your vocabulary. In fact, simple is beautiful.
Your construction of sentences, in a way, defines your speech. The efficacy of your speech depends on it. Short sentences of varying length may be intertwined to bring out a beautiful style.
Voice plays a major role in your speech. Voice need to be pleasing to the ears of your listeners. Voice can be made very attractive by proper breathing and desirable use of the speech organs.
Pronouncing the words correctly and clearly shows your style. Importance of clear and correct pronunciation should never be undermined.
How you speak is as important in conversation and speech as the content and language, if not more. Power of your speech depends on the judicious use of changing pace, pause and tone etc.    
Thanks of Reading.

Well & You Know

I did my masters in English Literature long ago from Government College, Ludhiana. My friend Ajit Prasad Jain and I shared the same bench in the class – in the last row. One of our lecturers who taught us kept us engaged in a rather unusual manner. He had a habit of repeating two words – ‘well’ and ‘you know’, almost in every sentence.

We did not have a counter at that time. Nor did we have a stop watch. But we gave ourselves a task of keeping track of how many times the lecturer would repeat the word ‘well’ and ‘you know’ during the period of 45 minutes. The wager was simple. If the professor repeated ‘well’ more than ‘you know’ Ajit would pay for our tea and samosa in the tuck-shop (college canteen) and in case ‘well’ left ‘you know’ behind, I would have to foot the bill.

It appeared to be a never ending game; and it kept our interest high in the prose lecture of our dear Professor. None of us or any other student in the class had the guts to point out and say to him, “Sir, 15-20 % of what you speak in class comprises just of two words – ‘well’ and ‘you know’.

These days too I find that a lot of professionals who come to me for improving their communication skills have similar habits. Filler words, are intruders who reduce the efficacy of speech. I still encounter, ‘You know’, though ‘well’ is not commonly used these days. But the most repetitively used words these days are – ‘like’, ‘basically’, ‘actually’ etc. Besides, other common intruders are – and, eh, uh, etc. In the first session itself I ask my students to remove these intruders (filler words and sounds) from their speech.