The Secret to Great Communication
I have found a secret when it comes to great communication.
What is it? ……….I am glad you asked! But first, I want you to think about this question for a moment– what is the purpose of communication? Write it down or at least come up with your answer before continuing……
If your answer involves anything to do with “getting your point across” or “having the other person understand what you are saying,” you are missing a major component of communication. Ultimately, communication has one goal – to get the other person to change his behavior in the way that you want him to. That’s right, the goal of most communication is behavior change.
What do we do when we communicate? Let’s say we’re trying to get a co-worker to embrace the Functional Movement System or get a coach or player to engage in injury prevention. What happens? Typically, we are so excited and passionate about our topic that we end up sounding much like a pushy sales person. (When talking about injury prevention and the annual musculoskeletal exam, I get like a Labrador Retriever puppy who wants to play fetch — including the slobber!) We say too much! This tends to cause people to shut down.
If that is the case, then what is a key pre-requisite for behavior change — the person has to be ready and willing to change. Re-read the title, tweet or facebook post that got you here. Why did you click on it?
Many times, people will not be ready for change or even know that they should change. We tend to think that means we need to bombard the person with information so he can make a decision. This is precisely the wrong thing to do.
The secret to great communication is to provide a morsel of intriguing information and wait for the person to ask a question. If he asks a question, that means that he is engaged and ready for the information and depending on the information you provide, for a subsequent behavior change. When you are speaking to a large group, you shouldn’t expect the question to be voiced out loud, but write your talk so that it answers the natural questions the audience member will be thinking.
Keep your goal of a specific behavior change in mind and craft your words carefully to arouse curiosity. Put your intriguing facts on the line and wait. Remember, you need to give them time to process the information. A long pause works really well and builds anticipation for what you are going to say next. Hook them with the most compelling information you can muster, in as few words as possible. Ready your audience for their first step in the direction you would like them to go, without leaving any slobber on their sleeves.