Art of Communication
In May 1889, Emperor Menelik II of Ethopia and Count Pietro Antonelli of Italy signed a treaty. During this time, European nations were rapidly conquering numerous territories. They would invade and colonize whichever territories they could get their hands on.
In order to avoid chaos from a prolonged war, Ethiopia and Italy agreed to a treaty to give control over the Ethiopian territories of Bogos, Hamasen, and Akale-Guzai to Italy. In exchange, Italy would give money and weapons to Ethiopia. Part of the treaty focused on the use of the Italian embassy. The treaty came to be known as the Treaty of Wuchale.
The treaty was first drafted in Amharic, and thereafter translated to Italian. The treaty agreed to in the Amharic version indicated that the Italian embassy may be used for foreign affairs. However, in the Italian translation, the treaty read that the Italian embassy must be used for foreign affairs.
The simple, one-word mistake in translating the treaty from Amharic to Italian altered the entire meaning of the treaty. The Italians assumed that Ethiopia wanted to be an Italian colony, when in fact the Ethiopians wanted to remain independent. The controversy led Emperor Menilek II to abandon the treaty, consequently leading to a war.
A single word turned a treaty for peace into a declaration of war. In our lives, a simple miscommunication may not result in a war, but it can surely cause mishaps and arguments. Needless to say, effective communication is an essential art worth learning.
Currently, social media and various technological advancements enable us to connect with individuals around the globe. Your uncle halfway around the world is just as easily accessible as your next-door neighbor. A message can reach our friends and family members within a matter of seconds.
At times, we will even message members of our own household with our phones rather than walking over and speaking with them directly! This has become the norm in this modern age. Communication has become extremely methodical — type a message, send it, and await the response.
For many of us, this may be the extent of our communication. Yet, there is an art of communication, the art of connecting with people, which goes well beyond a simple phone call or text message.
A study performed by Dr. Albert Merabian at UCLA reveals that only 7% of communication is expressed through words. The other 93% of communication is actually nonverbal and expressed through facial expressions, gestures, posture, and even active listening. Therefore, effective communication goes far beyond purely speaking. Remember, a single word can change the meaning of the whole message.
What is the technique to becoming an exceptional communicator? Ralph Nichols, the founder of the International Listening Association, stated,
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
Imagine you are driving and you see a yellow traffic light. Most of us would begin to slow down. The light would then turn red as you come to a complete stop.
A little time would pass and the light would turn green. You would speed up and continue toward your destination. An effective communicator treats communication like he or she treats a traffic light. Before engaging with someone the individual should slow down and take a moment to think. The communicator should then stop and listen to the person with whom they are communicating. Finally, the communicator should speak accordingly.
How to communicate effectively
- Know your audience, whether it is one person or a group, and communicate with them in the best way for them to understand. This involves listening to them beforehand.
Always be respectful with whom you are talking to.
Keep your words sweet at all times and avoid speaking in anger as your words will most likely cause offense. Instead, think over a sentence in your head before you say it, and if something seems offensive, say it in private or do not say it at all.
Know the intent of your message and make sure that you get your point across. While you always want to be calm and considerate, confusing someone by speaking in circles is often just as bad as offending them by being too direct.
Never use 100 words to say something that can be said with 10.
Many of our daily mistakes happen through our speech, so doing introspection at the end of every day to introspect on our mistakes can help us avoid the same mistakes in the future, and ensure that our communication remains positive.
Source: This article was published in haridhamnj