Friday, November 09, 2007

How We Communicate

For various reasons, communication has been on my mind this week. I’ve been looking at material that needed to be directed at very different audiences. I also attended a workshop that talked about NLP techniques and the ways people communicate.

Which of these do you find yourself saying:

I see what you mean.
That sounds about right to me.
That feels right to me.
That’s logical.

The interesting thing is that while people may have a distinct preference for one or two of these, they may tune out completely or not see or grasp the others at all.

Add to that the fact that some careers have distinct jargon of their own and it’s not surprising people often miscommunicate—the wonder is that we ever communicate effectively at all!

What it means if we’re writers is that we need to think about what our target audience, our readers prefer. What kinds of metaphors? What style grabs their interest best? With what kinds of characters will they be able to identify? What images will they see? What sounds do they want to hear? What will allow us to connect with them?

If we’re writers, we’re in the business of communication. We want our readers to see and hear and feel and make sense of what we’re writing.

Ultimately, communication is always about creating a connection with the other person and giving them a reason to care about what we’re saying. That’s true if we’re writing and it’s true in every day life as well.

As the workshop I attended pointed out, when it matters most to us, we’re least likely to instinctively connect with someone else because we’re likely to be using the approach that works best and feels, sounds or looks right to us. The key, in any situation that really matters, is to pay attention to how the other person communicates and go from there.

I'm curious to know what YOU think.