Monday, January 30, 2012

The Forgotten Element of Communication

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States was often referred to as "the great communicator. President Reagan's economic policy was called "Reaganomics" and he often called the Soviet Union the "evil empire." These catch-phrases were easy for everyone to identify with and rally behind. When President Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987 and emphatically said, "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall" the evil empire had been defeated and yet another Reagan quote would be remembered throughout history.

However, effective communication involves more than the capacity to speak eloquently and to provide a sound message. In communication 101, we learned that the process of communication involves a sender, a receiver and a message, (both verbal and non-verbal). If any element is missing, communication does not take place. The sender must have the capacity to formulate the message clearly and to present non-verbal cues that support the intended message. The receiver must have the capacity to receive and decipher the message. The capacity of receiving and deciphering a message almost always involves having the capacity to listen.

Making a sincere effort to become a better listener and developing one's capacity to listen will enhance and enrich the effectiveness of communication on an individual, organizational, state or even national level. Taking the time to listen to others and hear their point of view provides an opportunity to obtain a deeper level of understanding.

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." - Dr. Ralph Nichols

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