Communication Barriers

In the spirit of full disclosure, yes, I do have finger nails, and yes, they do make a tapping noise on the keys when I’m working. I apologize for that and I try to work as quietly as I can. I get lost in what I’m doing sometimes and forget that the sound of my keys does not make what I’m doing any better or worse.

With that being said, I was at a conference recently and sat next to someone who was using their laptop. Okay, fine, lots of people were. However, I have no idea how her keyboard has survived. She wasn’t just tapping against the plastic with her nails (again, like I do) but banging against the keys with her fingers so hard I could hear the plastic begging for help. Frankly, I was surprised she didn’t use her elbow to hit the space bar and just put the thing out of its misery. I wasn’t the only person who thought she was being disruptive, a few other people in the room were giving her sideways glances, and since I was at the perfect angle, I took a peek at her screen.

She wasn’t taking notes. She was working on something else completely. I can’t understand being that disruptive and not even paying attention. Not only was she disrupting some of the audience, but I can’t imagine how she wasn’t disrupting some of the guest speakers too. There are a lot of barriers in communication that can come up no matter if you’re speaking to one person or a thousand. Here are a few of the most common and how you can overcome them.

  1. Selves - Effective speakers know that a “me” focus turns off an audience. An audience wants to hear how what you know will benefit them. Sure, tell stories, but engage your audience with personal experience. Remember to always focus it back to them and how they can apply it in their business.
  2. Environment – One of the quickest ways to lose your excitement about speaking is to be in a bad set up or venue. Check out your set up before taking the stage to see if you’re comfortable. If there is something that doesn’t feel quite right, like the arrangement of the chairs in the room, you can go ahead and rearrange or prepare yourself for that.
  3. Noise – All noises can cause a distraction during a presentation. On a conference call you can easily mute the entire audience with a click of a button, but dealing with a face to face audience can offer more challenges. You can politely express that they turn off their laptops and communication devices, but we all know not everyone is going to do that. You have two choices when it comes to laptops and cell phones during a presentation – ignore it or embrace it.

As a speaker, it’s important to remember the barriers of communication and how to break through them. What barriers have you come up against and how do you get through them? And remember – your keyboard never did anything to you. Try not to hurt it.

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AccuConference | Reading Without Words

Reading Without Words

Whenever we talk to someone, we don't so much pay attention to what they say as how they say it.  As it's been said before, 70% of communication is done through body language.  So, it would seem to be important to understand what the body is saying, especially in business.

Body Language

In his post on SalesGuru, John Boe begins with a great example of the power of body language using the Nixon vs. Kennedy election.  Right after their pivotal debate, opinion polls reported voters watching on TV felt Kennedy had won, while radio listeners were sure that Nixon was victorious.  What it came down to - for the TV viewers at least - was that Kennedy looked more presidential.

It is with this in mind that we look at business communication.  What is your customer telling you verbally that their body suggests otherwise?  What signals are sent that a co-worker is unhappy, in disagreement, or upset with a project or policy?  More importantly, if you could know all of these things all the time, how better would you communicate?

Boe's blog post is mainly geared for sales, but his points can be used for negotiations as well.  "Mirroring" is one such tactic.  This is where you mimic the other person's subconscious body language and it sends the signal to them - again subconsciously - that you like and agree with them.

These signals and tactics aren't for face-to-face communication only.  They can be invaluable during a video conference as well.  In fact, the signals may even be easier to spot.  Most people on a video conference tend to make sure they are clearly visible and close enough to the camera to be seen well. 

This makes it easier to spot someone touching their ear or scratching their nose.  And when they cross their arms, it's like a billboard saying, "I'm against this."  If you become good at reading body language, video conferences may be your preferred method of meeting.

At the end of Boe's post is a quiz about reading body language which I highly recommend to you.  For example, what would you answer to this question:

1. What emotion is associated with the "palm to chest" gesture?

A. Superiority
B. Critical judgment
C. Sincerity
D. Confidence

Go on, give the quiz a shot then see how many body language indicators you see in a day.  Good luck!

Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist

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