ES2007S Blog Post 1- Effective Communication

Effective communication – 2 words that can potentially be very fuzzy when put together. The first step, then, would naturally be to break it down.

Let’s visit Susan meeting Jake with a miserable look on her face.
Jake – What happened? Are you okay?
Susan – Gosh! Everything in life seems to be going wrong..

Jake’s reaction could be one of the following –
1) ‘Oh, let’s sit down and talk about it’
2) ‘Susan, I have exactly 7 minutes before I go for my jog. Please be concise, frame an agenda to begin with and stick to it.’

We are always told to focus on being efficient(cue ‘be more efficient in managing time/tasks’). However, while being efficient may work well with tasks and machines, there is a need to be effective when it comes to homo sapiens i.e. do what it takes to make sure points get across.

How do we get effective? What would effective communication entail?

I feel effective communication is about getting your point across in a way that the receiver remembers it for life. And to make that happen, I’m going to draw inspiration from Dan and Chip Heath who co-authored ‘Made to Stick‘. Based on their research, the way to make something stick is –

S: Simplicity
U: Unexpectedness
C: Concreteness
C: Credibility
E: Emotions
S: Stories

Let’s look at a few great examples of words/phrases that have ‘stickiness’ –

‘A bird in hand is worth two in the bush’ – Traveled all the way from times before Christ.

Or let’s examine John F Kennedy’s famous statement that inspired America to work ceaseless to send a man on the moon. His call was to –
‘Put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.’

It is interesting to observe how these statements are simple, unexpected, concrete(easy to imagine bird in the hand or a man on the moon), credible(more so in the case of JFK), bring out emotions and yet, are stories in miniature.

The big lesson here would be to think through what we are planning to present in our next presentation and test if it meets the ‘SUCCES’ criteria.
And here’s to trying to use ‘SUCCES’ to become communicate effectively then. All the best to me!

3 from Invictus..

Morgan Freeman was, as always, at a whole different level. Matt Damon and everyone else played their roles to perfection. An inspiring movie..

1) Be a light, not a judge: Mandela was always a light on how to behave, leading only by setting the right example. For a man who was imprisoned for 26 years to forgive those who imprisoned him required thinking for the greater good.

2) Think from a level above: While it may have been intuitive for Mandela to dive into solving problems like corruption, crime etc, he sought first to unite the masses under the rugby flag. That was a master-stroke..

3) Inspiration: As demonstrated by Mandela in his message to Francois Pienaar, the captain of the Rugby team – what was needed at all time was inspiration. That’s what helped the South African’s to defy all odds..

Do we summon inspiration every day of our lives to remind ourselves to look at the bigger picture?

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Of Nadal, Federer, Ronaldo, Messi…

Disclaimer: If you are not a sport lover, you may not enjoy it as much.. feel free to comment with questions though!

Watching Cristiano Ronaldo in full cry on a football field is quite a sight. He torments defenders with his pace, trickery and aerial strength. Watching Messi is a different experience altogther – we still have pace, trickery but also witness genuine footballing intelligence.

If we had to think of 2 similar figures in tennis, it would be Nadal and Federer. Nadal taking the Ronaldo spot, while Federer taking the Messi..

While I’ve always been a supporter of Ronaldo(he’s ex-Man Utd after all and was made at Carrington), I know that Messi will probably stand the test of time and probably have a longer career than Ronaldo. It’s not because of his arrogance or any such thing, it is just because Ronaldo is a born athlete, Messi is a born football player. And that makes all the difference in the world..

The day will arrive when Ronaldo is 30 and will not be able to summon that lethal pace, while Messi’s intelligence would still be intact. It’s similar with Nadal.. Every fan of Federer has great respect for the man, his fighting spirit is second to none. The day will soon arrive when Nadal won’t be able to summon that dogged determination.. he can’t be a human express train for ever. The cracks are showing..

While in the case of Federer, he would have his lows – he is already no longer invincible, but on his day, he would still be unplayable thanks to his class.

There would be examples like this in every sport. I’m still looking for a life’s lesson – what I’ve understood is that, maybe when we choose a way of life, it should not be something we can just pull off when we are young – there needs to be a balance of short term and long term thinking..

for eg: we could make lots of money with a job that takes 20 hours of our life.. but is it worth being burnt out?

Where can you and I be ‘class’, ageless and timeless..?

Just as an additional note as a Man Utd and Alex Ferguson fan: For all those critics of Dimitar Berbatov of Man Utd, he would still play his languid stylish game when he is 35.. and that is why, at 27, he was worth every one of those millions paid.. :)

Attitude and Spirals..

Attitude and positivity often moves in spirals..

When good things happen, they keep spiralling up till a point where we feel we can practically achieve anything. Then, all of a sudden, life hits back and shows us who’s boss and we fall a peg or two. This is generally combined with similar circumstances and suddenly we are staring at the ground all over again..

(Also, reflective of the economy as stocks and shares are based on feeling as well..)

The difference in the attitude of winners is that while there are phases of ‘lows’ per se, they do not let their confidence spiral all the way to the bottom.. Basically, the higher the lowest point of the spiral, the better we are. That’s why Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo in football, Jordan’s and Bryant’s of basketball are where they are.. incredible self belief in picking themselves up.

This fluctuation happens even more so in our teenage when we are susceptible to emotions.. and I guess I’m finding myself in a phase of growing up where I’m learning not to get too high on the highs(even though it is tempting when I feel like I am king of the world.. haha) because I am going to get hit – that’s a fact.. atleast it’ll make the fall softer and the rise easier..

Important to have a base which is right in the middle.. and that base, in my understanding and interpretation, comes from a strong value system..

Again, it’s just a viewpoint.