Straight Talk is aimed at building a world of competent communicators where everyone takes responsibility for clear, honest, and open communication.
What do we mean by competent communicators?
We mean more than the ability to use language well, or to articulate one’s thoughts and feelings clearly. We mean more than knowing how to get a message across. We mean more than being able to listen well, although that too plays a part. When we talk about competence in communicating we really mean three things.
First, we mean understanding that we all have our own styles of communicating – and that our different styles affect everything we hear and say. It means acknowledging that these different styles can lead to misunderstandings. In the long run, it means developing and expanding our repertoire of communication styles so that we can communicate easily and fluidly in any situation.
Second, we mean understanding and avoiding the pitfalls that lie in wait as we process and convey information. This means understanding that these pitfalls occur in a moment’s time and that we are thus unconscious of them. It means acknowledging that how we process information can be changed and made more effective by challenging the way we think.
Third, we mean applying a set of ground rules that allows us, whether as two people or as a group, to acknowledge barriers to communication and overcome them. This means recognizing that competence in communication does not come easily. It means acknowledging that ground rules, like rules of the road, are necessary to avoid crashing into one another while we try to communicate.
Fundamentally, then, competence in communication means challenging and changing the ways we listen and talk to one another. It means turning some of our traditional ideas about communication upside down. At the heart of this concept is the idea that competency in communicating is different from competency in any other field or endeavor. That’s why it’s so hard.
We’ve all experienced what happens when two unskilled communicators get in a room together and fling assertions back and forth like Ping-Pong balls.
Ping: That’s how we do things at XYZ Corp.
Pong: Well, that’s not how we did things at ABC Corp.
Ping: Well, that’s how we do them here.
Pong: That’s not the way it should be done.
Asking questions – especially good questions – is a sign of competence in communicating. Flatly stating your opinions is a sign of incompetence. Curiosity is a reflection of competence. Certainty is a reflection of incompetence. Good communicators realize that knowing all the answers isn’t a sign of competence. It’s most often a sign of incompetence.
|Lesson 1: What is Straight Talk?||Lesson 3: First Steps to Effective Communication|