The Elevens Skills of Leadership

Submitted by Bob Docteur

Skill # 1 Communicating

Communication involves several factors: receiving, storing, retrieving, giving, and interpreting information. It is important that members of a group communicate freely with each other. Exchange of information often involves a "transaction," a stimulus followed by a response. It's important that these transactions be kept open or complementary. Crossed or blocked transactions result in people talking at one another with no real communication. As a result, information is not exchanged.

Information is received through hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. Obviously we receive information by reading what is written or listening to what is said---and we often do a poor job of these. We also receive powerful messages through facial expressions, body language, an individual's general appearance, costume, etc. The more ways we use to gather information, the better the information is received, understood. and put to use. Most people store the information they receive in their memories. The memory can be supported with notes, sketches, written references, and similar techniques.

Retrieving or recalling information is important. It often is closely related to how the information is stored. People known for outstanding memories have simply developed an effective retrieval system. This can include memorizing using memory joggers, repeating the information as it is received, taking notes, and skillful use of references. Giving information involves the same five senses used to receive it. In giving information, however, speaking or writing clearly, using visual methods, watching and being sensitive to the group, asking for feedback. and summarizing what has been given results in an effective transfer of information.

Interpreting information is vital. In many cases the information was given and received, but somehow communication did not result. Blocks to communication include motivation (one of the two parties didn't think the information was important), conflict (two messages didn't agree), experience (your own back ground or prejudices cause you not to accept what is said), personal dislike (you dislike the other person so you filter out what he or she says), distractions (you don't receive because something else is on your mind or something distracts you), and attitude (you think you already know all about the topic).

Most people learn approximately 11 percent of what they know by listening, but 83 percent of what they know by seeing (observing and reading). People recall 20 percent of what they heard but can recall 50 percent of what they both heard and saw. Thus. a "multimedia" approach to communicating is vital.

Clear communication is essential. Avoid initials, acronyms. technical jargon, and unfamiliar words in communicating with others. The success of establishing and maintaining a group will depend largely on how well its members communicate with each other and with those outside the group.

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