The Importance Of Communication By Life & Business Coach Eric Gilston

Where would we be without communication? Every day we are involved in both verbal and non-verbal communication. The latter has become huge over the past 25 years, and with social media growing day-by-day, actual verbal communication has declined.

Is this for the better? I am not convinced. You’re at home and you need to talk to someone about something important, so out comes the mobile phone and off goes the text message. Fortunately, the other person is not doing anything at that precise moment, so you receive a text reply. Yes, you know what I’m going to say – you then reply by text. WHY DOESN’T SOMEONE LIFT UP THE PHONE?

Verbal communication is a skill and needs to be used more often. Earlier this year I was coaching at a college, and we did an exercise with the students to get them to realise the relative importance of body language, tone of voice and the actual words used.

It was pointed out to them that when someone is communicating a message about feelings or attitudes, then the verbal element only accounts for 7%, compared to the non-verbal elements accounting for 93%, made up of 55% Body Language and 38% Tone of Voice.

Simply imagine two people arguing, where one person is doing all the shouting and the poor person on the receiving end is having to listen. The person shouting will have their arms and fingers in great use, while the voice is being raised, and these things play a far greater role in getting the message across than the actual words.

An alternative nowadays to this verbal rage is to send an email. The greatest problem that I have with people using this form of communication to have a go at people is that it can easily be misread. However, whereas a conversation can easily have misunderstandings rectified or clarified immediately, this is not possible with emails. I had an instance a couple of years ago where a very good friend misread an email of mine and didn’t talk to me for months. We now talk a lot more than using emails.

If you think about what goes on in the football world. Within any season, the roundabout of Managers leaving one club and then joining another happens consistently. Failure occurs at one club, but success happens elsewhere. Why? When I see this going on, and try to rationalise it, it is my belief that it is all about the difference between good and bad communication, and how that is received by the players at the different clubs.

This is where another communication skill comes into play, namely that of listening. I love the one-liner, “Be interested and not interesting”. So, the players at one club show off their body language signs and also start using their ears to listen to the new man, but at his previous club this just wouldn’t happen.

About six years ago, I was setting up a new business with a friend, and over a few days, we sent out an email to nearly 300 big companies inviting them to some Open Workshops. The response was minimal. Once again, the ‘written’ communication was to the test. Maybe if we had employed someone to personally phone the companies, we would have got a much better response?

So, the key message emerging, is that to get communication correct, you need to think about what is the best way to communicate your message if you want to achieve your goal. Imagine the England Football Manager having put together his squad soon for the World Championship. I wonder how he will make contact to not only those players who are chosen, but also to those who will be missing out?

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Eric holds regular masterclasses at FTA HQ in North London to find out when his next one is due to take place sign up to the FashionCapital weekly newsletter.