Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Future of Communication

Futurists are very often wrong. They see things in the future that never come to pass. That isn't all bad. It is good to consider the future and what might be. It can and should affect the way we act in the present. This prediction, The Future of Communication below is interesting and will provide you with an excellent beginning to your own consideration. Please keep in mind that it is generally agreed that futurists are generally wrong in their predictions.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Communication Defined: 3

In their book, Communication: Principles for a lifetime, Beebe, Beebe and Ivy provided a workable definition for communication. ". . .communication is the process of acting on information." You know something and you share it with someone. They hear what you say and they act on it in some way. Those of us who are effective think about our communications so that the goals we have can be reached most effectively.

With such a broad definition you have to believe that the whole subject of communication must be very broad indeed. It is. Everything that you do and much of what you choose not to do is used by others determine something about who you are and what you stand for. We often try to deny that we can be so easily read, but the fact is that we read others just as well and move in their direction if what we see is congenial. So we say that communication is inescapable. In addition, it is irreversible. Once the idea is planted in another mind, there is nothing short of trauma that can remove it. That's why our mothers told us to always "put your best foot forward."

When you combine several elements of communication together, such as email, phone calls, observed actions, the impact of the communication becomes very complicated. Our communication, intended or not, takes on a life of its own and we are largely powerless to amend it. It is irreversible.

Communication should take up a very large portion of our energy everyday. It is the basic tool with which we build our lives and professions. Done carefully it will greatly aid us in achieving our goals. Done poorly, we will find ourselves saying things like, "I don't know what she sees in him? I'm at least as capable as he is."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Communication Defined: 2

If we define communication as the perfect reproduction of your idea in another mind, that is impossible. Everything about us was created by the sum of all our heredity and environment and since those vary from person to person, not even the words we use will have identical meanings.

This presents us with a difficult task. Since our experiences and language do not completely overlap, even in the closest of relationships, we need to take special precautions during our communication attempts. Put another way: say it over and over again using different words and actions. After a period of time they will begin to understand what you mean when you say, "I love you."

On the other side, if you really want to hear "I love you" from that special person your temptation will be to apply your meaning of those words to what they have said. Take it easy and slow down. Determine over time what the word love means to them. If we would take the time to experience how the other person means in general, we would have a much better idea of what they actually saying.

This puts "whirlwind" relationships of all kinds in to a safe perspective. Move, but move with caution and many words and actions. That way you will have a better idea of who they are and they will have a better idea of who you are.

Communication Defined: 1

This is not an easy definition. It appears to be an easy definition which is one of the biggest problems we have to face in communication. Outstanding minds have wrestled with this problem for years. This is what George Bernard Shaw had to say about it.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

That assumes that there is some sort of expectation involved in the process. "I said it and I expected them to . . ." and here you can fill in your own thought. When you ask for something concrete like "Please pass the salt," and you get the salt you have evidence that something took place: communication. What about areas that are distant or more abstract and what you expected doesn't happen. Then the assumption is that communication didn't occur.

Shaw's observation is very evident every day in most of our lives. We assume that the what we have said is understood in the way we expected to be understood and that certain specific result will occur. When they don't we assume that there has been a failure to communicate.

If you have power or authority and you "know you are perfectly clear" in your communication then you risk the assumption that communication has taken place. That can lead to fights, hurt feelings, war, and lots of negative things. Be cautious about assumptions and don't allow illusions to mess up your life.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Communication In Legislation

We've come to think of lobbying as something that should be outlawed. At least we don't really feel good about being directly involved in lobbying. The problem is not simple: elected officials can't and don't know everything. They need additional information in a wide number of areas all the time. The people with the information need to be allowed to provide that for the elected officials. The officials need to be free to make decisions that are for the good of their constituents.

In recent meetings this important point was made one more time and with feeling. When important issues related to success are being discussed with the outcome being a new law, then we need unlimited access to trustworthy data. The folk with the problem need to make clear what their needs are and what the impact of other ideas will be to them and their interests.

Another problem: many of us don't really understand how laws are created and how to become part of the law making process. Yes, we did have civic classes, but in many cases even the teachers weren't certain what really goes on during the creation of a law. Professional help is needed. They almost never represent themselves or their own ideas. They represent their clients positions. They depend heavily on their clients for information and thought processes. Then they can advise them of the necessary steps.

For example, broadcasters pay huge fees for the right/privilege to broadcast the music on your radio. These huge fees involve agreements and agreements fail to meet current standards or are hurtful to one or both parties. Those making laws may listen to radio, but they have no clear understanding of how it functions. Somebody has to tell them about broadcasting. If you're a broadcaster then you know more about that than you know about making laws. Communication experts, lobbyists, are in an ideal position to aid the entire negotiating process.

One of the ways to reach congress is by placing advertising on radio and TV stations in the Washington, D.C. area which can reach the members of congress as they go about their personal business. But, those ads are going to cost money. It becomes necessary to raise funds for the specific purpose of "educating" legislators about the issue as you see it. Commercials are not going to be the entire answer, but it may allow conversations to begin and questions to be asked.

Why not broadcast both sides of the issue? Because those who feel that current situations are hurtful are doing exactly the same thing. In fact, if you did not raise the money to place the ads, other people will and their hurts will be addressed and your will not. So money has to be involved.

How about "buying" legislators. Of course, since we're dealing with human beings that is always a possibility. Become active in politics at some level, find dependable and honest candidates to put in office and then let them make the decisions that will be best for our community. Money is and will always be involved, but so are ethics and they are always involved. Give to your favorite PAC (political activity committee) and support the ideas that will improve your world. Be ethical, honest, moral and active. Before anyone can "just do the right thing" they have to know what that is. Get busy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Delivery Check List (Revisited)

1) Have I properly prepared for this presentation? Have I analyzed the audience? Do I know the location of the presentation? Do I have the proper presentation equipment? Do I have material related to both the topic and the audience allowing them to value what I'm going to share with them?

2) Who do they think I am? Do they know me, if not what will I provide for them about me?

3) What can I say non-verbally that will provide them context? How do they think I should dress? What language and demeanor do they expect? What appearance will be most effective?

4) Can they hear and see me easily? Is a public address system needed? Is the lighting ideal?

5) How can I use my presentational aids, voice and body to guide them through my presentation? Should I have a computer driven presentation? How can I use my voice to emphasize and direct attention?

6) Do I seem to be enthusiastic and informed about my presentation?

7) Would I notice if some in the audience couldn't hear, see or understand what is being presented?

8) What questions, if any were asked during and after the presentation? How will these questions affect my next presentation? Did they understand my content? Are they considering changing their position?

9) Did I need leave behind materials? How will they be distributed? How many will be needed? Do the materials have appropriate contact information?

(This first appeared in May, 2010}

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Common Problems

One of the most obvious and common problems encountered when making public presentations has to do with organization. Each individual is different and 16 or more individuals serve to makeup a typical audience. That puts a burden on the speaker immediately. The fit of the topic, speaker and audience is critical to success. How the ideas are organized merits a great deal of attention. The temptation is to spend most of the time gathering and the data and preparation of notes and presentation materials.

The data is important. But the fit of the data to the audience and the speaker is critical. How should the data be characterized? Why should the audience care about what they are hearing? What should they do with the data they are hearing? Which items are critical to audience understanding? What do they need to know in general before they will understand what the speaker is saying? What does the audience need to know first and last? How are they going to recall what is being said to them? These are organizational considerations. They are almost always given little or no attention.

First, know what your goal is? Surround and review the data that is the essence of what is going to be said and fit it to the audience. Then ask if this audience needs to be able to listen to what you have to say? Careful planning (organization) will enable the speaker to talk to an audience commanding their attention, aiding them to understand and follow what is being said and then recall it when the time comes to use the information.

Of course this entire process fits communication no matter how large the audience is.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


When you are speaking to anyone, keep in mind that they do to you what you do to other speakers: evaluate the speaker's ability to tell you things you can trust. What we do is evaluate the credibility of speakers/sources constantly. We listen to some with great interest and ignore others. In fact, we fear recalling too much of what some sources tell us because we don't want to be embarrassed by inaccurate or outright false information.

Be careful what you say when talking. Avoid anything that will damage your credibility. Self deprecation can be a useful tool, but don't let it affect the content of what you are saying. All listeners want to learn everything they can quickly and easily , especially in the areas of their personal interest. Then, they want to feel comfortable passing on that information to others. That way they appear to be brighter and more intelligent than they really are. If the information is faulty or incorrect, they appear to be gullible or less intelligent then they really are.

The solution to the problem is two fold: 1) develop habits of regular and constant data gathering and 2) do nothing to cause your listeners to question your credibility. That way when you speak in any size group, folk will listen, because they will learn something important to them quickly and easily. You are providing a major benefit to them through your ability to learn, organize and delivery information that they need/want and will use.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First Contact

The first contact with any audience is important. Often ignored it makes a huge difference to the outcome of the experience.

Before you can speak, the audience is already deciding if they are going to listen. That has to do with the way you look, walk and act. Before you can be seen last minute adjustments should have been completed, leaving nothing to chance. Now, put yourself out of your mind.

They see you and your nonverbal communications are being used by them to make decisions. If they decide they can listen to you without risk, they probably will. In some cases they have seen publicity and advertising that indicated to them that they might be interested.

When you do begin to speak, the verbal portion of the first contact needs to be well thought out, carefully worded and created to tie the audience to the speaker and the topic. The standard elements need to be present: 1) gain attention, 2) tie the audience to you and your topic, 3) assure the audience that you know what you’re talking about, 4) tell them what the topic is and 5) hit the main points you will be covering.

Don’t spend any time suggesting that what you are about to say “is the best you could under the circumstances.” Don’t suggest by your delivery that you are afraid of the sound of your own voice. Just dive into the ideas you are going to present with enthusiasm. If you’re not interested in what you are saying, why should they be? Your only concern should be the valuable service you are providing to them.

The first contact with any and all audiences without regard to size is important. Spend necessary time preparing for the best possible introduction to your communication to assure better outcomes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Usually, speakers spend little time being concerned about introductions or conclusions. Most of the time is spent on the body of the speech. Their concern is for the main content of the speech and not for those who are expected to listen, or even how the listeners might use the content.

Clearly, if the audience doesn’t listen in the first place, they are not going to recall what you said. But, once you have established a plan for getting and holding their attention with a well planned introduction you need to provide them with an effective way to recall what you’ve said.

There are several things that you can do. A list of ideas, concepts and/or actions will help your listeners recall what you have said. Even a day or so later should someone ask what your speech was about, thanks to the plan you developed they are able to recall all or most of what you said. Sometimes a word can be a useful tool.

For example, you are speaking on the responsibilities of piloting an airplane and you know that there are many things to recall. You want your audience to get a glimpse of the challenge facing pilots. In order to help the audience retain what you have said you list things to be checked. Then you explain during your speech that these things must be remembered to assure a safe flight. These are the things you must check:


In order to recall all of the items to be checked you create a mnemonic device: a word easily recalled that represents every item on the safety checklist. How ‘bout CIGARS? That should do the trick. Now you can explain to your audience the importance of pre-flight checks and have them remember what you said.

A little thought in advance may make a huge difference to the listener.


The introduction to a speech usually does not receive the attention it deserves. The reason is likely that we spend most of our time on the body of the speech, which is the reason we are speaking in the first place. The body gets all the attention and the introduction and conclusion get nearly nothing.

The fact is that the introduction deserves considerable attention. In fact, it deserves a plan. The listener wants to know why they should bother to spend the time and energy necessary to focus on what you’re going to say. If it can be avoided, they will wander off in their thoughts to anything more pleasant and less energy consuming. Remember, focus requires that the individual listen, interpret, sort, store and recall what is being said. That can be very tiring. If the listener is going to spend the energy what’s in it for them?

Consider the audience: what are they willing to spend their energy on? Can you tie your topic to anything that most of the audience would consider to be of importance? They will likely consider such things as social success, money, security, etc. Once you have that in mind, tie your topic to one of those interests. Now they have a reason to listen.

For example: I can enjoy watching a golf tournament on TV. I can talk about the things I have seen during the tournament and my wife will not understand or care. For her watching a golf tournament is like watching grass grow. If I hope to involve her in a conversation about golf, I need to give her a pretty good reason why it is important to her. If I fail to do that, I have failed to gain and hold her attention. That means, I can talk all day long with the best possible delivery about golf and she won’t listen and she won’t care. Without having the audience share your interest in your topic you are just flapping your gums. Tie the subject to you audience and do it with a plan.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Organization Is Important

“Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place?” That’s an expression many of us have heard often over the years. Why would anybody say such a thing? Simple: had they understood your starting point clearly they would have had a better chance to understand everything else you have said.

Organization is important and should never be ignored. Just because something is clear in your mind doesn’t mean that it will be clear to others. If they had the same understanding you do of the subject, then you might be able to assume that whatever is clear to you should be clear to them. But their understanding is bound to be different. The world that they have created in their mind is different from the world you’ve created in yours. That means that you are going to have to proceed with caution, step by step, using examples, definitions, illustrations, stories, statistics and other materials to build your idea in their mind.

The more time you spend building an organization that will make clear what you’re thinking the more likely those you are talking to will understand what you are trying to communicate. In part, our impatience with organization comes from the belief that “all reasonable people are pretty much like I am.” Even if that were true in general it isn’t true in particular. You have built your world one experience at a time over several months or years. Now you have to provide the equivalent information in the proper order to empower them to understand what you are saying.

Organization is key. The better you are at the following thought processes the more likely that you will be effective at speaking.
1. Focus on your knowledge base. What do I know about my chosen topic? What is the goal of my communication?
2. Focus on the audience—what do they know about my topic? What will they need to know to understand what I’m talking about?
3. What do I want them to think, or be able to do? Can I state it in a simple declarative sentence and does it cover basically one topic?
4. How can I arrange my materials to produce the outcome I want/need? What do they need to know in general and in what order for them to understand?
5. Can I say it in such a way that they will see that it is important to them, easy to understand and memorable? Will they be able to explain to another person later what you have said?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Speech Writers: Good or Bad?

Presidents of the United States have used speech writers for years. From one point of view, that may mean that we never know how our president really feels about the issues. The speech writers interpret what the power structure behind the president wants communicated and gives it to the president to read. With the issues so very complicated and important why not have the added protection of a literate group providing the president and through his/her voice give us insight into what should be done?

In fact, as we watch our presidents age visibly while they are in office and we recognize how enormously complicated the issues facing us are why should we expect them to completely understand all the issues. Many of the issues our nation faces are bound to impact the entire globe. Folk who are experts must advise the president at all levels, at all times about all things and that probably should include speech writing.

On the other hand, we all remember campaign promises that never seem to be priorities after the election has been won. We wonder what ever happened to those promises. It makes each of us a little more cynical than we were the year before. Circumstances change constantly and alter the actions necessary. "What ever happened to the person I voted for?" That's a question we've all asked at some point. The fact is, what ever happened to us that we have made so many changes and adaptations to fit our new positions in life. Change happens. We adjust and we understand that from our point of view. It is much harder to understand how our issues can be so easily abandoned by our president and congress.

So are speech writers a really good idea? Can you imagine presidents you don't like writing their own speeches? Can you imagine any of us actually saying what we think without some sort of filter? Speech writers are good to have if you hope to have a smooth running organization. Simple words poorly chosen can cause huge furors over things on which we don't really want to spend time and resources. The question isn't really are speech writers ethical to use, but instead are the folk who use them ethical.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How To Handle Fear

Fear of "performing" in public seems to be natural to almost everyone. And there are some good reasons why: the feeling that you're going to make a fool of yourself, the feeling that people will lose respect for you are a couple of examples.

Two keys to success.

1. Focus on your audience and their needs. It is true that you need to have some concerns about yourself in this process, but at the center of your thoughts is a concern for the audience and their needs. Through the entire process of preparation your focus must be on your audience: why should they care about this topic, what do they already know, what do they need to know, what form of presentation will aid them the most in understanding and retaining what you have to say, and what kinds of materials, examples, illustrations, graphics, statistics and other supporting materials will aid them.

It is only natural to be concerned about your personal needs. Will I make mistakes? Of course, but that isn't a problem, you even know what kinds of mistakes you are prone to make. Acknowledge that fact and prepare something that can be said when you make the mistake. Practice saying what you have to say to individuals and small groups so that you and your brain get used to talking about this topic. Know what you're going to wear and then before you stand up to speak, check everything out to be certain that everything that can be done about your appearance has been done and then put yourself out of your mind. Focus on the audience.

2. Focus on your message. Ask yourself why your audience needs to know what you're going to talk to them about. Think of a method that will create interest and a needy feeling for the information you are going to share. Tell them a short story or give them a short example and then move into the main reason you are speaking to them. Be certain that the elements that will be necessary for them to understand and retain are clearly stated and in some memorable form. That would mean you had thought about the best overall way to talk about your topic and noted that in an organizational plan that you can recall and will guide their thinking.

Feel like a missionary. Feel like they will be better off after having heard you than they were before and that they will realize it. Relax, have an enlarged conversation with the individual members of the audience about the topic. Don't be concerned about being perfect in your presentation, instead worry about them taking with them the important message you have for them.

These two items, focus on your audience and focus on your message for them, will carry you a long way toward a successful presentation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gather and Use Information Effectively

When most of us were in school we tended to look at the process of gathering information as the fulfillment of an assignment. Assignments are not necessarily things that we enjoy and they require us to do things and use time in ways that we would rather not.

But in fact, that isn't entirely true. We should look at the other side of information gathering. If snowboarding is your thing, then the more you can learn from nearly any source the more likely you will enjoy your experiences and the better you will look to your peers. It really isn't work and it doesn't mean we're forced to do things we don't enjoy.

That is one of the reasons why we should follow our interests: that almost never is something we want to avoid and it makes learning much easier. Oddly enough if we can make a good living from doing the things that interest us work will not be nearly so difficult. Instead, we will look forward to doing what we enjoy. Further, if we are working for a busy person, then sooner or later we will be asked to speak on their behalf. We may not look forward to the speaking itself, but we will be confident that we know what we're talking about and that we can tell people what they need to know. The "research" of the project is something that we would do not matter what our role in life might be.

Explaining things to people about subjects you enjoy will be made easier because you enjoy talking about those things. The real trick is to find a way to get paid to do what you most enjoy doing. Just to prepare yourself to do a job that pays well without regard to your interest is asking to really hate your job.

I'm equally certain that choosing someone to live with is much better when you choose someone that you really want to be with as much as possible. When you select someone that you think everybody else wants to live with you're headed for trouble.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Growing Together

There are many problems in communication and we should avoid all of them. Unfortunately, we don't even recognize all of them and many we see looking back at what we should have done. One of the problems that we must be aware of is the maintenance of relationships.

We seem to be able to get ourselves into relationships fairly easily. Some relationships we wish had never happened. Then we have a huge set of problems that we must solve. But, on the positive side, how do we maintain the relationships with which we are delighted.

1. Relationships are not static. They cannot be successfully put aside and then taken up again later as if nothing happened. Relationships are like us: an ongoing process which is never finished. When we attempt to set them aside they immediately begin to deteriorate and fall apart. If we wish to maintain the relationship over time we must work at the relationship actively. A relationship is either growing or dying: there is no middle ground.

2. Gather and share knowledge. Since within interpersonal relationships things are constantly changing you must find a way to keep up with the changes. A huge amount of information is gathered by what we see, smell, feel, hear and lift. That is the non-verbal content that is so important to all communication. If you aren't there to gather that non-verbal data it will probably be missed. The verbal side is critical because it helps us to define the non-verbal information we gather. If we are short on data from these two sources you can count on the fact that the relationship is at risk.

Put another way, if your life style requires that you be absent for large portions of your life, even if you get together at least at home, then you don't know what is going on. If you don't know then you don't know what to say or do. If that is true the only thing that is holding you together in a relationship is convenience/habit. You can't be aware of what is happening inside another individual unless you are around them and able to observe as well as talk about what you think you're seeing.

To gather and share mutual knowledge requires the careful use of time. Our society wants you and your time and will if given the opportunity dominate your time and energy. If you don't set aside the time and energy your relationship is doomed. The high rate of divorce in the United States is an example of this outcome. Try to view your partner in this relationship in as many contexts as possible. That we give you and them the opportunity to see what is going on as well as hear about the details.

3. Avoid the illusion of having "many friends." There isn't enough time or energy on the planet to have many close friends since the communications necessary are so time and energy hungry.

4. Never stop the sharing and pursuit of more information. You may think that you now have established a stable and permanent relationship only to discover that you were wrong. I've heard it said many times that there is no such thing as "too much money." That's probably not true. It is true that you probably cannot have or share too much knowledge/information about your most prized interpersonal relationship. The faster the growth and change in the two of you the more likely that you're going to need to work at keeping up with the change.

To maintain a worthwhile relationship you must plan and execute a system that will enable you to spend time experiencing and talking with your significant other or you can count on nagging problems, some of which may involve things like divorce.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How Do People Make Choices?

When it comes to people, we make choices based on an ideal that was placed in our minds. It has to be based first on how we look. Does the clothing we have chosen to wear seem to us to be appropriate and attractive. Then the concern is about how we move. Or put another way, the first concerns about us as people boils down to do look good and move well. With more experience we begin to ask questions about when and where we are seen.

Neither fair nor accurate, but commonly used tests on whether we want to know more about them as well as spend time with them. That is one of the huge problems with non-verbal communication. It is ambiguous and under the control of someone else. So what are some of the things we ought to consider if we want to be "attractive" to other individuals.

First, you must have in mind the individuals or groups to which you want to be attractive. To this extent learn as much as possible about those that you want to feel attracted to you. Where are they? How do they dress? How do they move? When are they on display? With the answers to these questions you are able to present yourself at the proper time looking like one of their potential friends/associates and you are doing what they would expect of anyone that might be allowed into their circle.

Keep in mind that everybody is busy, and some more so than others. They may not want to "waste" any time on individuals that don't fit their expectations. In our culture, everybody is busy and they are primarily interested in doing what furthers their goals. Keep their effort to accept you to an absolute minimum. Look, sound, move and act like the folk they have already decided to travel with. Now you will not appear to be a waste of their time.

A bulk of what we have just thought about is non-verbal. Something about which we spend too little time thinking. You can't spend too much time or thought about these non-verbals because they are going to play a major role in 1) who you're going to live with, 2) where you are going to work and 3) how much money you're going to make.

After you've been accepted enough to begin talking to each other you can further define you non-verbals. The only way for you to control the meaning of your non-verbals is over time and with your words. Don't allow others to interpret your non-verbals without a plan or the hope of further definition. Communication is tough. Treat it with respect.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Works

So you find yourself, like so many of us, in the middle of an argument (fight) with your significant other. You know that you are “right” and that there is no other position than the one you have taken. Unfortunately, you’re being “right” doesn’t solve the problem. What you need now is a way to say two things at the same time.

There is a way: touch is a fantastic tool. For example, try putting your arms around the significant other and then continue the discussion, or whatever it is. You’ll find that the reassurance of the hug does a great deal to change the tone and feeling of the discussion. It is saying non-verbally, you are part of me and I’m part of you even thought we are tangled in a discussion at the moment. With some of the emotion removed by the reassurance the discussion may not be as damaging.

Even though this method works, as usual it depends on you always being consistent and honest in your relationship. It doesn’t work for those who are apparently untrustworthy. Be trustworthy at all times.

An additional problem: even though you are convinced that you are correct, take into consideration that at one time you thought there was a Santa Claus only to discover that that idea may not be true. So you changed your position on Santa and moved on. In this discussion/fight, you might be incorrect. Consider it. . .there is the possibility that you have overlooked something and your partner is correct.

Being right is valuable. But be certain that you are right before you destroy anything. Listen, ask questions, consider and provide information that you “know to be true.” Keep in mind that communication is a process, just like the rest of your life. Relationships are processes. Treat them like a work in progress and use all your tools: verbal and nonverbal (hugs.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Communication and Goals

It should be obvious I suppose that our success is almost entirely dependent on communication. But, I think it is easy to imagine that there are other and possibly more important elements that may lead to our success.

Business leaders continue to point out that they need people who are in general capable and are skilled communicators. They can teach you many of the things that you will need to be employed by them, but the communication skills you have are the basis for the relationship.

From the beginnings of our life until we die people around us know things about us because of non-verbal and verbal communications. This awareness allows for the development of relationships. If they are comfortable that we will “fit” or be able to accomplish specific goals then they push us forward in a variety of ways. They make it possible for us to attend schools, gain experiences that will broaden us, habits that will provide the best possible environment for our minds and bodies. It is a social investment in our future.

Sometimes this social investment is made by family members and friends. At other times social investments are made by teachers, coaches and acquaintances. Why would they do such a thing? Because they think it is the right thing to do and other times it plainly selfish: they recognize you capabilities and advance them as much as possible for the rewards spiritual and material that are available.

But, center to this process is our ability to express ourselves (communicate), encouraging the folk around us to make our trip through life as smooth as possible. The lesson we should take from this thought is simple: think about what you are saying non-verbally and verbally as much as you possibly can. Allow others to see in you what you are hoping to accomplish in life or at least the things that you are that might be useful to others.

In short: communicate deliberately and constantly. Another word for this might very well be network.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Keep In Mind

Each of us sets goals. Often that happens at the beginning of a new quarter, new relationship or a new year. Often we fail to reach those goals. The good thing that we have done is set goals. The crazy thing we tend to do is not adjust our lives.

This thought is attributed to Benjamin Franklin: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Clearly, it didn’t work last time, so what has changed that makes us think that this time it will work. Instead, we must make changes.

Those changes very often boil down to time. How much time am I willing to devote to success in this new goal I’ve set? In the case of relationships, how much time am I willing to spend with someone significant in my life. Or am I going to count on increased repetition of the idea that, “Indeed, you are my best friend.”

The KIPP Academy concept of time spent on task has been proven by them to be successful. Their program begins at about 7:30 AM and there are still students on campus at 7 PM. They attend into what most think of as summer vacation time by about a month. And they take the time that is necessary to cover and understand the concepts before them.

One of the problems we all face is an idea that has been buried in our minds. It suggests to us every day that if we can catch on to a new idea quickly, we’re smart and others will see and notice. If it takes quite a bit of time and involves asking questions then we must have been shortchanged in the brain department. Who cares anyway? You are going to live your whole life with you, not the teacher or fellow students. You need the concepts that are before you and so it is important that you do what it takes to understand and retain those concepts.

In addition, it has been my experience that only a handful of times has anyone asked me what grades I got when I was in school, or what schools I attended. Instead, they want to know if I can do the job. Set goals! Make the goals reasonable and attainable. Make the changes necessary, probably more time spent, and reach those goals. It may take me longer to get there following this plan, but when I get there I will have achieved my goal which is success in its own right.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Why Be Concerned About Communication

Almost everyone has hopes and dreams that represent the goals we have for our lives. Some of them seem pretty far fetched, but others represent goals that we think we should be able to achieve.

Almost nobody focuses on what it is going to take to reach even the smallest of our goals. Now is the time, if you haven’t started already, to focus on how to achieve your goals.

If you want/need anything what is most often used to satisfy the situation? Communication is the answer. We must communicate with others. Sometimes it is just one other person we communicate with and we call that interpersonal communication. Communication with one other person may very well be the most important form of communication for any of us. It is through this form of communication that we gain friends, lovers, mates, jobs, and meals prepared to our liking.

The more we know about communication the more likely it is that we can achieve long lasting relationships, desirable employment as well as products and services that we request. Many of us can do the simple things in communication such as, “Please pass the salt,” and actually get the salt. That is important. But, far more important is letting someone special know that you think they are special and that you would like to spend time with them. That’s not easy.

That’s the kind of thing that makes the study of communication important. Things like, “I think that I would make an excellent addition to your staff,” said in the proper way becomes extremely important. With things this important we should give ourselves every advantage. That’s why we should all spend as much time as possible learning/improving our communication skills.