Thursday, September 1, 2011

Communication – The key Skill...or is it?

You are a good communicator; your communication skills are exemplary; you need to improve your communication skills; you lack communication skills; I am adding communication skills to your development plan...And the list goes on...

Over the last decade our obsession with the word “Communication” has become pernicious...All of us have said or heard the above statements a numerous times...Sometimes albeit rather losely...Infact some very enterprising folks are riding the tide and have set up institutes to develop magic potions that are being delivered through numerous well packaged training programs to rid us of our “Communication Deficiency Syndrome”.

Hence, I feel it is time to take a step back and reflect a little more on this word...

Let’s start with a small exercise...Close your eyes and say “Effective Communicator”...and visualize this word.

I guess this word initiated a specific chemical reaction in your mind, and you visualized someone standing on a dais and delivering a speech or someone talking brilliantly in a meeting or some other setting of Individual oratory brilliance...Also, I feel that you would have seen someone who can influence you with his words and thoughts...Therefore I truly believe that effective communication is definitely a little bit about, Choice of Words, Intonation, Grammar etc but more about Intensity, Clarity, Conviction, Passion and most importantly Honesty behind the thoughts that are communicated.

However, before you dump this article as another “10 steps to effective communication” I should clarify that I am not selling any medicine here rather I want to discuss something more ethereal...i.e.,Psychology of the word “Communication”

Words influence our psychology which in turn reflects in our thoughts and feelings and ultimately gets expressed through behaviours and actions and it is no different with the word “Communication”.

If we go back to the visualization of the above exercise, what we saw was Individual Brilliance...and that is exactly what communication as a word is about...The complete focus is on the speaker...The listener only plays a passive role of understanding and acknowledging the speaker...Therefore this word creates the feeling of “I”, “Me” or “My Brilliance” Which I believe is important for one's self-development however it does not necessarily invoke the feeling of “We”, “Our” or “Our Success” the word is rooted in "ego"

There is another word that I used to hear a lot in my childhood but not so much these days, i.e., “Conversation”...If I repeat the above experiment what visualization does this word lead to...I see discussion, equal participation and togetherness and I am sure you see similar pictures or events....This word invokes a feeling of “We”, “Us” and “our” in me...and the sensation is bereft of “Ego”.

The above visualizations might make us believe that the two words are in contradiction with each other, however that is not the truth, the two words are in complete harmony and share a symbiotic relation...The first one focuses on Individual Development (Which has to be the starting point) and the second one dissemenates that brilliance to the larger group and also completes the knowledge cycle.

I believe, what we need though is to develop a better balance between “Communication” and “Conversation” to become more effective managers, Leaders and most importantly better people...
In a nutshell, continue to develop as effective communicators but do have more conversations....

Finally if you stop at just reading this piece, it will stay in the domain of Communication, however, if you choose to comment, you will complete the knowledge cycle and transform it into Conversation...Cheers


  1. Vikram - I recollect this definition of conversation. Maybe you remember it too. "Con" as in Latin for "with". "Vers" meaning "to turn or transform". So, conversation meaning "Transform together". Powerful and stays with me.

  2. Absolutely sir...I do remember....A very powerful word...unfortunately not used very often though

  3. Hi Vikram..complete agree on the fact you have mentioned on the way the corporates look at the term "communication"..but rightly mentioned striking proper balance and choosing the right words makes us a better people manager.. thank you for sharing this..i guess this should be published in the flag scape...

  4. VB..I enjoyed reading it...just adding a bit on your analysis of "effective communication".
    As you rightly say , effective communication is definitely a little bit about, Choice of Words, Intonation, Grammar etc but more about Intensity, Clarity, Conviction, Passion and most importantly Honesty behind the thoughts that are communicated.
    With all this you must consider Limitation of the other's capacity to perceive, apprehend and process the communication which completes the cycle of effective communication !!

    Keep up the good work ..VB !!
    Best Rgds,

  5. Great point Rohit...Very well said...and I completely agree...Cheers

  6. Nice articulation of the words communication and conversation...Its indeed an eye opener for most of us to consciously submit ourselves to conversation more than communication...since the former creates an environment for a healthy 360 degree feedback which most of us avoid....!!!