The fine art of communication

As a child in school, when being taught English, I recall being trained to focus on items such as enunciation, vocabulary, presence, delivery, grammar and something called syntax. In other words, we were taught to communicate from our perspective vs. the recipient, thinking: Well, if we use the correct vocabulary, delivery, etc., then the listener will, of course, understand.

Certainly, I believe that the items above are very important to learn. I have found out over time, however, there are other aspects of communication, never taught in the classroom, that we all need to learn.

Think of some of the better speeches or presentations you have heard and why they resonated with you. It was no doubt the presenter’s ability to speak to your frame of reference, your emotions and your aspirations.

In other words, if the message doesn’t take deep root with the audience, then it likely won’t be understood, much less be a rallying point.

An essential component

When I think of my daily schedule, I think about how much time I spend in some type of an interpersonal situation. As such, this can lead to an unintended consequence where organizational problems can occur as a result of poor communications.

Effective communication is an essential component of professional success at every interaction level from interpersonal, group or external.

Although we may develop an understanding of great communication skills, being able to draw upon these skills at different times, for different audiences, is easier said than done.

Seeing the cues

From my perspective, the most important part of communication is listening and then trying to be perceptive in reaching conclusions regarding what was heard.

Over time, I have learned to read a person or group setting by sensing the moods, attitudes and concerns of those I’m communicating with. (This is why I always prefer face-to-face meetings vs. conference calls or emails).

A good communicator is 100 percent focused on meeting the needs and expectations of those they are communicating with.

Here is another lesson learned: Even if you are ready to have a particular conversation with someone, this does not mean the other party is ready to have the conversation with you.

Laying the groundwork for a productive conversation is worth the effort.

Assumptions affect results

I often use the phrase “that must be top-secret and confidential” when I learn something (or others learn something from me) that would have been very helpful to know. This is because we collectively assume that everyone knows what they want to occur — without ever finding it necessary to communicate objectives.

We all must be certain that our message contains a combination of knowledge, logic, reason and empathy to get the message across. Otherwise, we will not obtain the results we are expecting and have to spend more time correcting a problem and re-communicating.


Elliot N. Dinkin is the President and CEO of Cowden Associates Inc. Elliot’s strategic approach assists clients in the development of a total compensation benefit package that controls costs, adds efficiencies and enables the employer to attract, retain, motivate and keep employees engaged while meeting company objectives. Through his guidance, employers become more competitive by creating total compensation packages verses viewing benefits in silos.