The Opposite of Knee-Jerk

Tom Leu, MS | 10 March 2014 | Communications | 0 Comments    | 5,978 Total Post Views

stimulus-responseStimulus = what happens to us. Response = what we do next. The “freedom” in between as the picture here illustrates also goes by another name called “communication skills.” And there’s a “big ass gap” between those who are good at this stuff, and those who only think they are.

Consider this:

It’s estimated that 14% of each work week is wasted as a result of poor communication. Miscommunication is estimated to cost an organization 25%-40% of its annual budget. (Linchpin Learning)

According to David Grossman’s research, CEO of Chicago’s The Grossman Group communications consultancy, the plethora of data that’s out there highlights the extremely high costs of poor communication skills for businesses:

“$37 billion total estimated cost of employee misunderstanding in 100,000-employee companies (average cost per company is $62.4 million per year). $26,041 cumulative cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communications barriers.”

But, the converse is equally noteworthy. Grossman’s data goes on to highlight the financial upside of communicational excellence in the corporate world:

“Companies that have leaders who are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that have leaders who are the least effective. Best Buy found that higher employee engagement scores led to better store performance… individual stores saw a $100,000 increase in operating income annually.”

Holy hell right?! This data and these statistics are external validation for the following…

Yeah, there’s lots of training on “communication skills” out there. There’s no shortage of books and seminars on the subject. But why? As the statistics above make clear, there’s a HUGE NEED for it, that’s why. Anything out there in great abundance is there because there’s demand for it; there’s a market for it. But why is a lot of “communications training” only short-lived at best or ineffective at worst? Because most training resources out there only focus on the “what and how” to enhance communication skills. The critical pieces that are left out is not helping people understand the “why” these skills are often lacking in the first place, and why it’s important to THEM to understand and apply these skills to their day-to-day lives ongoing.

This is where my stuff is different. I dig into the “why” you not only need to, but have to WANT to care about this stuff. Once the why is first, the what and how become much more attainble long-term. Big difference. It’s about the psychology underneath the communication skills… in that order.

Welcome to my world…

Anything less than “Yes, my communcation skills could and should improve,” is evidence of the opposite.

Our knee-jerk reactions are those gutteral, instinctive, evolutionary impulses that lean toward the fight or flight survival responses birthed from the amygdala deep within our “old brain.” That’s why we “snap” or “put our foot in our mouth” or say things like “that came out wrong” or “that’s not what I meant” or any other trite phrase that means: “Sorry, I just blew it.”

That’s why everyone needs great communications training. That’s why everyone can benefit from ongoing awareness of the subtleties of great communication. That’s why anyone who claims they’re exempt from this, are often the ones who need it most.

To become the best communicator you can be requires you to start “seeing things” in a figurative sense. It requires an acute awareness that allows you to miss less than most. It requires a heightened understanding of common human psychology that drives, and can predict most behavior. It requires you start considering facts over your feelings. It requires you making a conscious decision to learn to widen the gap between stimulus, and your responses. It requires you to become a student of emotional intelligence and social intelligences that separate the A players from the B players.

Understanding your audience’s psychology first helps you decide how you could and should respond to their communication second. You cannot change them, but you can change how you choose to react in response to them. This is for your, and their best benefit.

So much of this is the opposite of our typical knee-jerk tendencies and reactions. This is hard work which is why most don’t do it. It’s not necessarily a matter of ability, but of willingness. It requires a certain amount of humility and risk to truly embrace this process and improve. It requires people to pull their heads of their assess, and stop being so completely and utterly self-absorbed so much of the time. It requires the active consideration of others’ feelings, perspectives, and points-of-view. The benefits far outweigh the work, but oftentimes are not immediately evident. There’s a definite amount of delayed gratification involved here. Patience, another great, but often overlooked communication skill, is necessary. In our fast-paced, hustle and bustle, I want it now society, patience and delayed gratification are foreign concepts to many. Master Communichologists embrace these things proactively, and advance where most others only stagnate.

YOU need this stuff most if you:

Feel this is all just common sense.

Feel that you’re already a good enough communicator.

Feel impatient considering all of this right now, and that is a waste of time.

Feel that “soft skills” are less important than technical skills.

Feel that how others feel is of no consequence to you.

Feel that thinking about feelings is stupid.

Feel the need to get on with it…

So, stop complaining, get pissed, and grow a pair – and drop your name (on the right) to get on my mailing list.

This is about the relentless pursuit of communicational excellence in all ways… always!

Stay tuned-in…

Leave a Reply