Checking The Mirror: An Exploration Into Clearer Communication
Our latest Women’s Advancement Compact workshop featured the welcomed return of WAC specialist Kathleen Brady for a highly interactive session exploring the art of non-verbal communication skills. February 18th’s YOU ARE THE MESSAGE: Powerful Communication Skills to Advance Your Career, Session One was an informative investigation into body language, tone and props, and how to fine-tune the effectiveness of your own. We were thrilled and proud to watch as attendees walked away as much more confident and polished business communicators, eager to apply what they learned and study the results.
Gimmie Three Steps
Kathleen began by laying out the 3 steps to communicating, and demonstrated how useful it can be to refer back to this deceptively elementary process before engaging. First, an idea occurs in your head. Next, you must strategically choose the words to convey that idea (seems pretty straightforward). However, the way you craft those words is vital to the process, and needs to take the 3rd step (message reception) directly into consideration, as there are varying audience listening filters you’ll need to predict. This is where audience awareness enters the equation, inspiring a whole socio-strategic approach to communicating that could stand as an entire workshop in its own right.
Perception is also to be considered when communication is underway. Kathleen was careful to warn us of the pitfalls we’ll surely encounter if we fail to hold a mirror up to ourselves and simply assume an audience perceives only what we’ve chosen to reveal. This set the gears in motion for participants who may not have been consciously aware of the potential disconnect between our self-perception and the way we actually come off. This was clearly illustrated during our game of ‘charades’, where we discovered the fine line we straddle between exuding confidence vs arrogance, and how when we don’t perpetually check in with our persona, the wrong “us” can get projected, delivering a death blow to a business relationship.
The Body Talks, The Mind Listens
What the real masters of communication know, that the rest of us may not, is that body language speaks the real volumes. Although it’s unrealistic to think we can all transform ourselves into social ballerinas, Kathleen was nonetheless eager to remind us that it’s well within our capabilities to be mindful of our own body language, and to learn to avoid the faux pas that could brand us as unprofessional, even unlikable. Case in point: Something as simple as an appropriately stationary stance can help you avoid two different extremes in unintentional projection during a Q&A session. You see, stepping back from the questioner can send the message that you are being verbally attacked, while stepping toward the questioner can make you seem aggressive. Even common mistakes like men keeping their hands in their pants pockets or in military hold, or any of us fiddling with a pen during a conversation….these can range from distractive to disengaging, possessing more negative energy than their subtlety would suggest.
More In Store
Following some valuable tips on steering out of a pregnant pause, responding when you don’t know the answer, and using PowerPoint (did you know that as a PPT presenter you should stand stage right, and that there should only be six lines per slide?), Kathleen prompted the group to ask questions, and ultimately offer their “baby steps” toward more efficient communication. If this all sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, there’s great news: Kathleen’s next communication skills session is on April 21st, and space is still available. Sign up today, and be an active participant!