Improving Your Communication Effectiveness

By: Jeffrey Magee, PDM, CMC
Posted: 07/30/2010

Communication studies abound, and while one report indicates how certain components within an exchange can influence the interpretation of the communication by the receiving party, another study says the opposite.

Some things all communication experts do agree upon:

 1. There is a portion or percentage of the sent communication which influences one’s interpretation that is solely based upon WHAT has been said.

 2. There is a portion or percentage of the sent communication which influences one’s interpretation that is solely based upon WHY the signal has been sent.

 3. There is a portion or percentage of the sent communication which influences one’s interpretation that is solely based upon HOW the signal has been sent.

The sales professional to recognize that precisely WHAT words and message are chosen to be sent is critical.  This is the portion or percentage of the communication exchange that is rationalized for understanding. It is also the portion or percentage of the communication exchange that typically registers second, overall.

The sales professional must also realize that the listener will put the message into its proper perspective (based upon the supporting components sent) and justify WHY that exchange is taking place, or the urgency of the message.

This may include non-verbal signals and additional influences on the exchange.

Ineffective communication exchanges are often due to poor transmission of the signal. What the human ear registers before understanding WHAT is being sent in terms of a communication signal is HOW the signal is being sent. The HOW factors can make or break an exchange. 

Those HOW factors can be one’s:

1. Tone of voice
2. Pitch
3. Pace
4. Volume
5. Accent
6. Intonation

Sales professionals must realize that while they may spend significant time working on exactly WHAT to say to a prospect/customer, there also needs to be attention and sensitivity paid to HOW that signal will be sent. 

Coach your sales professionals to recognize that there are also double standards which can make or break dialogues as well.

It is most often acceptable for a man to be assertive in his tone of voice when communicating.  Other times, such communication behavior might be seen as aggressive, pushy,  – all logical rationalizations. 

However, if a woman is being assertive in her communication, she will, in most instances, be heard not as assertive, aggressive or pushy, but rather as a domineering individual - an emotional rationalization!

This analysis is more emotion-based than logic-based, and when one reaches this conclusion, there will be an instant communication breakdown!

Is this a double standard?

Yes. Is this a reality?

Yes. The point here is not to debate the merits of the signal influence, rather recognize HOW people do actually register signals.

Effective communicators, just as successful sales professionals, are sensitive to WHAT is being said, WHY it is being said, and most importantly, HOW it is being said!

Activity 30-A
Improving Your Communication Effectiveness:

The Art of Sending the Correct Signal

In teams of 3-to-5 people, take turns sharing a short story.

Roles: Speaker shares a story with the listeners and must keep talking until all the listeners indicate that they have been made to feel as if the signal was intended just for them.

Listeners will all hold a hand in the air as a signal that they are listening and keep their hand up until they feel the Speaker has communicated directly to them for five uninterrupted seconds.

Listeners will score the Speakers and debrief when all are down.

Use the following score sheet for each speaker.

Speaker One: _________________________
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHAT FACTORS  1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHY FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  HOW FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)


Speaker One: _________________________
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHAT FACTORS  1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHY FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  HOW FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)


Speaker One: _________________________
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHAT FACTORS  1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHY FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  HOW FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)


Speaker One: _________________________
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHAT FACTORS  1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHY FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  HOW FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)


Speaker One: _________________________
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHAT FACTORS  1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  WHY FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)
(ineffective) –5  –4   -3  -2  -1  HOW FACTORS   1+  2+  3+  4+  5+ (effective)

Have you ever heard someone give a speech, a sermon, a motivational talk, or an interview on the radio or television, and at the time you're listening, you're thinking to yourself,   "I could listen to this person read the telephone book, and I would still be enthralled and on the edge of my seat!"

When you speak from a place of being honest, open, genuine, and passionate, people pay attention.    

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