In order to communicate your message to your audience, you need to do it in a way that connects with them.
Communicating to connect could mean speaking their language (either literally or using jargon of their industry or profession.)
But what if it meant something so much more? What if it meant you truly were able to see things from their point of view?
The biggest obstacle we have to looking at things from another’s point of view is our own point of view.
We walk into conversations with assumptions, expectations, and judgements based on our own experiences and values.
The true master communicator can put themselves into their audience’s place and see things from their point of view. How? By stretching their own awareness.
Years ago I was lucky to have graduate professor that taught me how to stretch my awareness in a way that was engaging. It’s not just a 5 minute thought exercise, but rather a way of life. Day in and day out he practiced examining life from other people’s point of view to help his students become better leaders. I can sum his approach in one word: read.
On a weekly basis he encouraged us to read things we would normally not read. Blog posts, articles, books. Not just the mainstream, but the unusual and even things that challenged our beliefs. Especially things that challenged our beliefs.
But he didn’t stop there. He also had us watch movies and documentaries.
After we read or watched new material, we always discussed it openly with one another. At first it was difficult because everyone was guarded. But after a few sessions we all shared our true reactions and thoughts about the material we consumed and the result was an amazing increase in awareness and appreciation for others’ points of view.
Why would you spend the time to do this?
To get us unstuck from your small little world.
To appreciate the lives of others.
To begin to understand how others live.
To begin to truly connect with others in conversation.
So if you truly want to be a master communicator, read something you would not normally read.
Where do you start?
How about looking across the aisle at the person reading on the subway.
Walk to that section of the library or bookstore that you have always avoided.
Ask colleagues what they are reading.
Even better yet, ask your audience what they read.
And so I ask you to send me a note to let me know: What are you reading?
A personal note: The professor I mentioned has recently passed away. The news was heartbreaking, but his legacy lives on in every student and with every person who interacts with those students. Thank you Dr. James Larkin.