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Communication Skills: A Few Thoughts From Our President, Jeff Russell

2021-01-04T07:59:03-08:00

In a previous post, I mentioned that I would talk more about communication, time management, and management skills. Today, I am going to take a crack at communication skills. 

Let’s start with the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When we talk and think about communication, I suggest we switch that phrase up to the platinum rule that comes from The Platinum Rule, by Dr. Tony Alessandra and Dr. Michael O’Connor: “Do unto others as they wish to be done unto them.” 

This applies to healthy and productive communication in several ways, starting with taking a moment to understand who you are communicating with. 

  • If they speak softly, speak softly. If they speak quickly, speak quickly. 
  • Listen to the words they use. If they say things like, “I hear what you’re saying,” or “I see what you mean,” use similar words. 

This is a common practice in communication studies called “mirroring,” and it’s one of the most essential communication skills you can possess. I’ve used it in my own life with great success and have seen other very accomplished folks use it as well. 

Dr. Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, created the 7-38-55 rule. It’s a theory that seeks to quantify how much meaning is communicated via verbal and nonverbal communication methods. Here it is: 

  • 7% of meaning is communicated through spoken word
  • 38% of meaning is communicated through tone of voice
  • 55% of meaning is communicated through body language

Based on those numbers, your body language is pretty significant. But in a COVID world, we are limited to others seeing our body language. We aren’t always communicating in person, and when we are, our masks cover our facial expressions. So, in the present, your tone really matters. 

So, be mindful. Don’t use the tone you want to use, but rather, think about and use the tone that the person you’re communicating with will react to best. Remember, do unto others as they wish to be done unto them. 

As you go through the week, think about how you might communicate differently and in a way that best represents the way the recipient wants to be communicated to. At the end of the day, you’re not only responsible for what you say, but also how it is heard and received. 

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