September 17, 2019 Blog No Comments

Clear communication has been essential lately as I’ve helped coordinate a big community event. After getting several notes thanking me for my clear and concise information, I concluded that this must be a skill set that needs more use. Here’s why.

Through our non-profit, Lee and I were asked to set up music for “On Common Ground”, a community forum and conversation on immigration with, JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and a leading voice for the human rights of immigrants. The local musicians, all immigrants to Lexington, are an example of the point that’s being made – that people from other cultures play an important role in creating a rich and lively community.

Finding the diversity of musicians we wanted from Asia, the Middle East, Mexico, South America and Africa was harder than we thought and the communication barriers a little tricky.  We used every method of communication – phone, text, Facebook, Messenger, email and face to face.  There’s been many details to manage as this event involves 1,200 people, security, 2 theaters and 9 acts.

We did it. By the time you read this it will be happening! Here’s why I think clear communication is important – why it is the most important skill I have in my personal and professional life.

People Need More, Not Less, Direct and Personal Information

If you’re like me, when you want to know something, you get on your phone or computer and look it up. Once you have it, you move on. But that leaves a lot out. The nuances, details and subtleties of direct communication are lost. We love the freedom, but lose something important.

That’s why it hit me that we need new skills – new ways of condensing lots of information into clear and concise digestible bites. It requires good formatting, bold text and often bullets. It needs to be personal, so people get its relevance to them and most of all, it needs all the information conveyed in detail so there’s no guess work.

To convey information properly we need more, not less. information presented in a concise and personal way so it can be understood.

Details Help Dispel Misunderstanding, Assumptions and Myths

Digital communication can make things appear very black and white. It leaves little room for negotiation or explanation. People are left with impressions that can be misleading or inaccurate. We tend to give up on things that are important because of the lack of information or simply accept the first answer.

When Lee did a first round of inquiries with musicians and got no, I followed up. People needed detailed explanations, background information and most of all personal conversations to engage. They needed to be convinced to understand the importance of this event and the benefit of being involved. Taking no for an answer wasn’t an option.

To convey something you’re passionate about requires explanation and details – talk directly and don’t be afraid to fight to be heard.

Ask Questions – Be Clear With Answers – Be Persuasive

In my coaching/therapy practice asking the right questions is the only way you get to the heart of the matter. This is followed with clear and concise information, including why what you’re talking about is important. Persuasion becomes an essential skill to make your communication convincing.

After several of these conversations, I realized that not only is this a skill set, it requires determination to use it to make things happen. These are skills I’ve developed over many decades. I took them for granted until I had to pull them out in force for this event.

Good questions, clear answers and persuasion is an art form that takes practice. And it’s better done directly than electronically.

Be Personal – Have Good Manners – Be Direct

We live in the South. There is an expectation that things go in a certain order if you want to be heard and get things done. You make your conversation personal; you have small talk, you say something nice, all before you ask for what you want. That’s considered good manners. Lee, who’s lived in the Northeast, has experienced the difference.

Every region has its idiosyncrasies, but there are universal standards. This includes having good manners, with please and thank you, giving compliments when deserved and following standard salutations and closings in letters as part of good communication.

Notice how the little things, like being nice,and using formal letter structure can go a long way to influence good communication.

Organizing the music for this event required that I pull out all the stops in my communication skills.  It meant conveying a lot of information to get people involved, confirmed and understanding the expectations. It required detailed and frequent explanations so there wouldn’t be misunderstandings. It meant asking and answering questions, being persuasive and using all the protocols of good manners to make sure the information would be well received. Whew – now I’m ready to enjoy it!

How does this sound to you? Do you enjoy using good communication skills to get things done or is this something you would like to work on? Clear and concise communication is a skill set that requires self-confidence. To improve yours, see www.spectrumtransformation.com and reach out using my Free Consultation link. I’d love to help you develop this skill.

Event graphic by designer Shaan Azeem.

On Common Ground

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Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com