Two singers perform a song; one leaves the audience with goose bumps, the other leaves the people cold. Two professors teach the same class; for one the students stand in an hour long registration line, the other class dwindles to a few students. Two mangers work in a restaurant; for one the employees are willing to but in overtime, while the other only gets excuses why they can’t stay late. Why is this a fact? What is the difference?
You’re Actions Speak So Loudly, I Can’t Hear Your Words: Verbal and nonverbal messages are not consistent. What people see us do and the tone we use can far outweigh any words we say while we are trying to communicate.
- What we say accounts for only 7 percent of what is believed.
- The way we saying accounts for 38 percent.
- What others see accounts for 55 percent.
If we believe that communication is all about words, we are missing the boat and will have a hard time connecting with others.
All communication has three essential components:
- Intellectual – something we know.
- Emotional – something we feel.
- Action – something we do.
If we fail to include any one of the three, there will be a breakdown in communication:
- Something I know but do not feel, my communication is dispassionate.
- Something I know but do not do, my communication is theoretical.
- Something I feel but do not know, my communication is unfounded.
- Something I feel but do not do, my communication is hypocritical.
- Something I do but do not know, my communication is presumptuous.
- Something I do but do not feel, my communication is mechanical.
The Characteristics of Connection: Any message you try to convey must contain a piece of you. You must be the message you want to deliver. It is difficult to try and communicate someone else’s vision. It’s hard to get excited when you’re presenting someone’s else’s ideas. To gain credibility you have to make it your vision; discover how the vision impacts you personally.
Teachers can fall into this trap when they teach right out of the quarterly. While the message is believed, we can be dispassionate about the subject if we cannot relate it to life. We must allow the lesson to flow from our own lives. That will make a greater connection. Remember that nothing happens through you until it happens to you.
- Integrity – did I do my best?
- Expectation – did I please my students?
- Relevance – did I understand and relate to my students?
- Value – did I add value to my students?
- Application – did I give my students a game plan?
- Change – did I make a difference today?
The Four Components of Connection: Communication goes beyond words.
Connecting visually – What People See: Sight is the most powerful sense in communication, we remember 85-90 percent of what we see but less than 15 percent of what we hear. It is helpful to bring in visual aids when teaching; a movie clip, a prop, or a photograph. We are a visual society, getting news from TV and online, watching YouTube, Facebook, PowerPoint, video games and movies. They say that we have only seven seconds to make the right first impression.
- Eliminate personal distractions – proper grooming and clothing will help people focus on your message more than your appearance.
- Expand your range of expression – actors can tell much of a story without saying a single word. If your face is going to talk for you anyway, you might as well communicate something positive.
- Move with a sense of purpose – Don’t wander aimlessly into the room, have confidence that you have a message to share and your students are lucky to be present today. Let them see your eagerness. Move closer to the students, and don’t allow a natural barrier get between you and the students. Let them feel your energy and excitement.
- Pay attention to your surroundings – Take an inventory of your room to discover any clutter or obstacles to your communication. Check the lighting, and the sounds around you.
Connecting Intellectually – What People Understand: Two things are necessary; you must know your subject and know yourself. This is the difference between a good teachers and someone who knows what he’s talking about. I read a story about an event where people were asked to recite their favorite passage of Scripture. One man read the 23rd Psalm, and the audience applauded at the performance. An elderly woman who had dosed off was asked to share her passage and she recited the same psalm, and the audience was in tears. The man was asked, “What was the difference?? He replied, “I know the psalm, she knows the Shepherd.”
You also have to know yourself. You need to have confidence in your abilities. Training is always a great way to increase your abilities and confidence. When you find yourself, you find your audience.
Connecting Emotionally – What People Feel: Great leaders and teachers win over the hearts and minds of others. Notice that we don’t win the minds, or even win the minds and hearts. The heart comes first. Teachers should not rely too much on their intellect to persuade others; logical arguments and apologetics does not work if we do not capture their hearts first. Remember that people will hear your words but they feel your attitude. It’s probably why some people have charisma and others don’t; some believe it is due to personality, John Maxwell says it is more a function of attitude. Charismatic people focus on others, are outward, pat attention to others, and desire to add value to them.
Connecting Verbally – What People Hear: To make an impact we must pay close to attention to what we say and how we say it. Pay attention to pace of speech, tone, background noise; we learn through experience how to hear more than just the words in order to connect to others.
Connecting Principle: Connecting goes beyond words.
Key Concept: The more you go beyond the words, the greater the chance you will connect with other people.
- Connect verbally by giving the other person your complete attention.
- Connect intellectually by asking questions, listening carefully, and paying attention to what is not being said; by investing in the growth of your students.
- Connect emotionally through appropriate touch with boundaries; by honoring students’ efforts and rewarding hard work; and through facial expressions, humor and tears.
- Connect visually by setting the example so the group can see you live what you teach; and by smiling.