In this issue ~~
Communication is probably not something you would instantly equate with creativity. It's something that we do throughout our lives, but often don't give much thought to how we're doing it. But communication is a skill (and perhaps an art), and like any other skill, we can improve upon it.
With better communication, we can enhance our relationships, both personal and business. And since just about everything in life is based on relationship, the impact of improved communication can be far-reaching.
Business and personal development coach Henry Barbey, whose seminars on communication have impacted many people, has shared some of his thoughts on communication with me.
Barbey suggests that one of the primary factors in good communication is listening. Listening is hearing, but with the added component of seeking to understand what the other person is communicating. We achieve this by listening with the intent to understand, rather than thinking about our reaction or response to the communication. The result is that the other person feels that we are interested in them and what they have to say. By paying attention, we can pick up clues about the person and what they are saying that will forward the conversation and help create relationship.
It's also important to note that communication is a two-way street. Speaking is only half the picture; the message needs to be acknowledged in order to be complete. When someone else is speaking, you can let them know you're receiving their communication by focusing your attention on them and perhaps adding an occasional nod or saying "uh-huh" to let them know you're with them (this is particularly important on the phone, where the speaker is otherwise met by dead silence).
Barbey also uses what he calls a "feedback loop." What this means is that, from time to time in the conversation, you rephrase or paraphrase what the person said and repeat it back to them. They can then acknowledge that you understood what they said or provide clarification. It's as if the person is communicating in code, and you are decoding the message and sending it back to them for verification. By using the "feedback loop," you can confirm that the communication has been received accurately. You'd be surprised how often this is not the case.
Part of becoming conscious of good communication is being aware of the barriers. Barbey lists several categories to consider:
So how do we begin to improve our communication?
As artists, better communication can help us in our work. For actors, listening and *then* responding, rather than just waiting for your cue, is integral to good acting. One of the things I admire about musicians playing together is the way they tune into each other so beautifully; this is an excellent example of non-verbal communication.
For visual artists who work solo, the communication may be with yourself. By tuning into your own intuition and creativity without the critical chatter, you can more authentically touch your own self-expression. Or if you're doing a commissioned work, by listening to what the client says and using the "feedback loop" to be sure you're receiving their communication clearly (as well as expressing your own vision for the project), you can create greater rapport and thereby more accurately fulfill their desires while also completing the project to your own satisfaction.
So start by becoming more conscious of your communication and practicing some of the skills listed here. As you begin to listen more fully, your relationships and your life will become more effective and begin to take on a flow that makes them more fun and pleasurable. And with practice, you can lift the skill of communication to an art!
A special thanks to business and personal coach Henry Barbey for sharing with us his passion for helping people communicate more effectively.
When you're in a conversation with someone and feeling distracted, stop. Acknowledge your distraction and ask them to repeat or clarify what they said. If the issue on your mind is preventing you from giving them the attention they deserve at this time, explain that and set up another time when you can.
"The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer."
"Excellence, to me, is the state of grace that can descend
only when one tunes out all the world's clamor, listens to an
inward voice one recognizes as wiser than one's own, and transcribes
(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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