Make sure your falling tree is heard for miles around!

There is a philosophical question regarding, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

When it comes to communication…no matter how great your idea is, if you have alienated your listener, it does NOT make a sound; there is no impact, there is no communication.  End of philosophical debate.

I once had to help an engineer friend of mine understand what was at the root of his communication frustration. He is very passionate about a topic that is fairly obscure (understatement!) to most of the human race and he found that people were shutting him down when he was just getting warmed up to his topic. Including me!

It was a tough conversation to have, but I had to be very, very, very blunt (did I mention he wears an iron ring?) and I told him he was completely failing to consider the needs of the Listener. To keep it simple, here is how I explained it to him. To address the Listener’s needs be sure that:

  1. It is information the Listener wants to hear. What’s in it for them? Do they care about this? Are you reading their non-verbal cues to know this? If you can’t read non-verbals, like my semi-autistic friend, ASK the listener if they are interested! Stop talking if they say no. I even demonstrated some non-verbals that could give him a hint that there was no interest.
  2.  It is presented in a way that the Listener wants to hear it. Do they like small amounts of information?  Do they like stories? Do they like fast-paced info? Fact based info? Get to know your Listener’s communication style. Mimic their communication style and you stand a better chance of meeting their needs.
  3. It is presented at a time the Listener wants to hear it. The waitress has a job to do, let her do it! Seriously, I had to intervene several times to release a caged worker from his oblivious clutches.  That is not fair; she has to be nice to people who might tip her.

Alas, it proved too much for him to put into practice. Occasionally, I miss the download of information, but I really like my sanity too. I wish him all the best.

If you are going to take the time to communicate something important to you, consider these three needs to make sure your tree falling is heard for miles around!

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