We Are All communicators

“First seek to understand, then seek to be understood.”

Interpersonal communication is the process of sending and receiving information or more easily described as: communicating with another person. This communication can be verbal or nonverbal.

The idea is simple, but the implications are monstrous. It seems so easy to say, “I communicate well with others.” But how do you know? How do you measure your ability to communicate? Do you measure your communication success in your ability to get what you want out of an interaction?

Let me stick to the basic idea. When you have an interaction with someone you send them messages, both verbally and non verbally. It is scientifically known that non-verbal language accounts for 90% of the total interaction. Cues are given through eye contact, vocal inflection as well as haptic interactions or the act of touching i.e. a high five or hand shake.

Each of these cues offer nonverbal messages as to the person’s intentions or feelings. They also cause feelings in the receiver, whether positive or negative.

In the realm of leadership this idea of ‘sender/receiver’ messages comes into play when communicating with constituents.

I believe that actors make good leaders because of this ability to distinguish motivation within an interaction. Maybe this is the reason Hollywood is so wrapped up in politics? Actors are able to analyze a persons or group’s motivation by listening to the words and watching the non verbal cues as the messages are transmitted within an interaction. Actors are also good at reading personalities.

How much of what we reveal about ourselves in an interaction depends on how much another person is willing to reveal about themselves. When someone opens up to you with a personal secret, you are more likely to respond with something a little more in depth about yourself, right? This give and take principle is how we adjust how deep we are willing to dive into a certain topic within a conversation. Some people simply do not know how to open and close this window from conversation to conversation. These people treat every person they talk with as a best friend. It can get quiet burdensome to those involved in the conversation who often feel obligated to listen and possibly pressured to share personal information about themselves at a faster rate than they are comfortable with.

The lesson: Listen more and talk less


Mike Toner

Based in Alexandria, Virginia Michael is the Manager of Social Media at Navy Federal Credit Union. By evening, he's a husband, dog owner and runner. Toner writes about social media strategy, tools, training and best practices for social and digital marketing programs.


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