I've spoken many times about dealing with personal stress and unforeseen circumstances in and out of the workplace, dealing with them while in the presence of others, while you're by yourself, and in many other scenarios. Two days ago I got the opportunity to sit down and listen to a few of my peers talk about some of the things that were weighing on their mind like ongoing illnesses, emotional distress or having to leave family and children nearly every day to do what they loved to do for a living; despite all of these difficulties. Our initial exchange dealt with these and also being able to identify the real motivation behind their actions. In doing so and detailing our perspectives, I learned that many of them, if not all, had a misconception about the power of acknowledgement.
Working in communications has taught me a lot about how people interact in just about every place and every situation in the world. It's fascinating to see how someone from one region of the world or a particular socioeconomic status engages with someone from a completely different one. Everything from eye contact to the amount of words exchanged can totally differ. Some might be more soft spoken, while others very engaged and dominant in the exchange. After countless interactions and connections I made with people regardless of age, title, level of education and cultural background, I've been able to identify 3 basic things that play a huge role in virtually every interaction you'll make.
There aren't very many people who understand the power of words. In the short amount of time that I've been gifted with the opportunity to live and breathe on this planet, I've worked in various industries and lived in many shoes: From the food/service industry to transportation, the military, sales, even door-knocking. I've done enough to confidently say I got quite a bit under my belt of hands-on experience. However, all these years, I failed to notice the one thing that all of these professions had in common: Communication. I've never truly realized the effect that one simple word can have on someone's life. You can alter moods, completely change situations, you can earn that business contract, you can get that person's phone number, etc. When dealing with other human beings, you can do almost anything you wish to do if you are an effective communicator. To get to the point, many people don't see this. People are quick to assign the blame on other things that are outside their control for the negative results they encounter. However, we can't ignore the impact our words can have at the beginning of any sort of connection we attempt to make. Take a 911 operator for example. Aside from location services and actual units on the move, they rely primarily on their words to walk someone through a difficult scenario. I know this for a fact because I have been a 911 operator and still am from time to time. I work as a professional interpreter and I deal with many walks of life. There are some instances where anything and everything I say can make a life or death differences. Not only do I have to be very careful with the things I say, I have to be very careful how I say them. Your words have this same effect. I can now recognize that life is all about building relationships, and relationships are built on trust and communication. Even if someone is having a hard time trusting you, the way you carry yourself with the use of your words can determine whether you destroy that bridge or make it all the way across. I realized this when 99% of the doors that I knocked on were shut in my face because of something I said; not something I did. Can you imagine a 6ft, bearded, tattooed man knocking on your door trying to sell you windows at 11 am in the morning? Don't you think he would have to work extra hard to earn that respect from 100ft away? That was me at one point. That's what led me to be work on my words, despite my appearance. So what makes an effective communicator? Is it the tone of voice? The amount of words they know? Does it have anything to do with body language? Facial expressions? Is it even the things he or she doesn't notice, like the amount of times he or she blinks? The 'uhs' and 'umms' in between sentences? The answer is yes. Everything from the way you sound to the way your eyes are angled has a big effect on the way your message is interpreted. This should be common sense, right? It isn't. Different people have different standards when it comes to the way they communicate. While some opt for a direct and blunt approach, someone else may take that as a lack of tact. Some people prefer being reserved and minimal with their statements. Personally, I am one of those. In my short time here, I've met people from all over the world and mannerisms along with tones of voice change drastically from one continent to another. There are many things that fall just outside our reach when it comes to how people take the words we say. Nonetheless, if there is one thing we can control is how we say what we want to say.