Let’s connect

A few weeks back, I sat through the inauguration of a club which claims to hone the communication skills of its members through structured practical speaking exercises – “????.to speak effectively?????” as the president said.

Most of the participants seemed to know each other and I felt like a fish out of water, not knowing what I was in for. Even as I was looking around for a familiar face to connect with, a young guy in his early 20?s sat himself in the chair next to me.

He seemed very nervous, his mind pre-occupied with something. He looked up the papers in his folder and took out a form. Suddenly, he turned towards me and seeing a pen in my hand, without even a formal greeting, asked me, ?pen?? I gave him the pen and he used it to fill up his form, after which he turned towards me and returned it to me without a customary thanks or even a smile.

For a moment, I tried to analyse the situation – here was a youngster keen to acquire good communication skills by giving speeches on different matters to an audience, but who lacked the basic skills to connect with a person right next to him.

As soon as a child starts speaking, he is taught to wave goodbye, say thank you to the ?uncle who gives sweets? or request with a ?please? while asking for an ice cream at the roadside ice cream parlour. Most people, however, leave these essential manners behind as silently and normally as the tadpole its tail while growing into a frog.

I am often amused when people refer to someone as having good communication skills only because he or she can speak in public without any fear or inhibitions, even if the same person is not a good communicator in the real sense.

Theoretically, communication is merely the transfer of opinions, ideas, suggestions, feelings, information of any sort, but its success has to be gauged on the impact made. A warm smile can build an instant rapport whereas even an impeccable delivery of carefully assembled jargons and concepts can fail miserably, if the speaker fails to connect with the listeners.

For all the variety of communication equipment and modes available these days, the art of communication itself seems to have deteriorated. Heartfelt  communication can bond even strangers but on the other extreme, uncouth communication can create rifts in relationships of any kind.

I believe effective communication progresses from will to communicate, to the thrill to communicate, till it matures to good communication skills.

Will to communicate

Quite a lot of people are not keen to communicate any more, the most obvious reason cited being lack of time. I would suppose they are not willing to make time because they lack the interest, rather the inclination to connect.

The point to remember here is what goes around comes around. One who does not connect with others, is likely to be kept away by others in the long run. It would not be wrong say that such people are silently building their own cocoons of loneliness.

Thrill to communicate

Only when we are thrilled to communicate, can we progress to building  meaningful relationships. Mere will to communicate seems very formal if not selfish and need-based, while the thrill to communicate infuses enthusiasm into whatever we say. Which is why they say a smile can be heard over the phone.

An acquaintance of mine subscribed to a new scheme which sends encouraging thoughts by SMS daily to all her contacts. Once, when the messages stopped for some reason, I got worried for her and sent an urgent message enquiring whether she was fine, whether everything was alright with her, for which there was no response at all. Later, when we met each other, I asked her whether she got my message, to which, she said dryly that her messages would go automatically to all her contacts, but she would not read any incoming messages and couldn?t care less. I was appalled by her response, for she lacked the zeal to remain connected.

Skill to communicate

Once we have the urge and the excitement to connect with someone, it is worth acquiring skills to do so effectively, though they come easily to the passionate. Fluency in language with a strong vocabulary and good accent, comfortable tone and modulation are some aids to excellent communication skills.

Considering how important socialisiing is to building connections and living joyfully rather than mere existing, investing in good communication skills becomes essential.

Man is a social animal, meaning man (or woman) by nature thrives on communication. Yet, from merely conveying something to connecting with someone, if all it takes is our wholehearted sincere effort, we should go all out and connect.

Deepa Suresh Dumblekar

Author: Deepa Suresh Dumblekar