We humans have been communicating since time immemorial. Even infants learn to communicate by simply pointing at things. We even communicate subconsciously. But the Single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
I am a trainer by profession, and if you ask any corporate which is the one area they would like their employees to be trained on, they will say communication. The reason is not that everyone does it but very few excel at it.
Webster dictionary defines communication as a process to give information, exchange ideas or express thoughts. It also defines telling “as an act of giving information by writing or speaking”. In such a scenario, there is hardly any difference between the two terms, however, they are conceptually drastically different.
The difference between Telling and Communication
Telling is just an act of giving information by speaking or writing, whereas communication is an act of providing information to get the desired result.
Envision a child watching television amidst her exam, and her mother asks her to switch off the Television and start to study. The child doesn’t listen to her and continues watching the show. In such a scenario the mother feels and infers that the child is either not interested in studies or turning obstinate. But, is the mother really communicating with her child or telling her to study?
The mother would have communicated well if she would have explained the reason why she wants her child to study now and the impact this decision of hers will have on her examination outcomes. Here the tone and the way, this message is communicated to the child also plays an important role.
Communication is telling with a purpose in the right way.
Telling begins with words but…
…communication begins at the thought level
A lot of people think that their lack of proficiency in any language or their limited vocabulary is the main cause of their inability to communicate. However, it is not just these tools that are important but it’s the clarity of thought that makes communication clear, concise and effective.
Communication does not begin when you express, but communication begins in the mind when you decide to express. Communication comes with clarity of thought and then expression incessantly gets clear. Communication is the most creative quest of the mind.
Telling is speaker oriented but…
…communication is listener oriented
As the maxim goes, One Size does not fit all, similarly communication is not about the speaker and his style, but mostly about the listener.
In the telling, it is a mere exchange of information, which a speaker can deliver in any style. In communication, however, it is imperative to know who, what and why of the listener before you start to communicate, so that the message yields the desired results.
Make yourself easy to understand. Calibrate yourself according the needs of your audience, and never ever talk down to someone.
Look at the person you’re speaking with. Notice here..I didn’t say speaking to…I said speaking with. Great communicators don’t talk at or to people. They speak with them. Leave your phone, notepad, tablet or whatever else that may distract you from truly listening. That’s important because the moment they sense a lack of listening, you will lose your audience at the same moment as they no longer feel compelled to listen to you.
As Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggests that to communicate, seek first to understand then to be understood.
Telling is uttering words but…
…effective communication goes one step further
Telling is just uttering words just with the goal of getting a message across; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But Communicating effectively refers to one step further in the process: it is the successful transmission of a message. When a person talks to his or her partner without actually communicating, their relationship suffers.
Effective communication is more than talking. It is transforming words into actions through carefully focused compromise that produces “win-win” situations rather than just creating and fostering a “win-lose” mentality. When wishing to share experiences, thoughts, feelings or dreams — converse. While one needs to converse in order to communicate, not all conversation becomes effective communication. Communication is a conversation on steroids, an exchange of thoughts and ideas that result in an investment of time and resources focused toward the accomplishment of an intended consequence.
I hope with the above four observations around the difference between telling and communication, it’s amply clear that effective communication is both an art and a science. While you may employ all the scientific tools and techniques at your disposal to communicate but this alone will not make you a great communicator until you master the art of communication i.e. the way you deliver the message the tone, the body language. More on body language later.
Go on and master both the art and science of communication.
Dr Shreya Govind (PhD) is a Behavioural trainer, POSH Trainer, HR Consultant and has magnetic skills to influence people. She believes training enables positive transformation internally & externally. Her reliability, communication skills, responsibility and friendly nature are assets that would bring to her work. The quality of hers ensures all her training sessions and workshops are dynamic, energetic, result-oriented and value for money.
Also read: Developing Communication Skills of Learners