Mark Eckhardt

Thoughts On Cool Shit That Matters

ark is a Zen Priest who trains visionary leaders, launches social businesses, loves cycling, composing music and trying to make the world spin in the opposite way.

Effectiveness in communication

People put a lot of effort into being effective with their communication. Towards that end there are many schools of thought. There is the school of thought that suggests that one should speak often and as much as possible. Another advocates speaking as little a possible. I say both of these approaches are flawed.

Throughout my career I have never made an impact by simply saying more or less. The reason for this is that neither approach is based on anything real; they are empty strategies that ultimate frustrate people and kill off any chance of creating the result that I want. To increase effectiveness in communication I suggest that you turn towards neuroscience.

Making an impact with your words has many aspects to it; tone, volume, intention, etc. One critical component is knowing how much information to share, when and why.

David Rock, Founder of the Nuero Institute, describes the brain as a stage that has the job of taking in bits of information, matching them with something already known or understood and then forming a conclusion. In David's model, he refers to incoming stimuli as "actors" that enter that stage from the wings. Once on stage the brain turns up the lights, holds the actor in place and then recalls stored memory, or "audience members."  In order for the brain to know what to do with a new actor on the stage, it calls up an audience member and has the audience member stand next to the actor so it can compare the two.

This process of comparision is the brains way of tapping into stored memory so it can identify what kind of actor has entered the stage and then respond in an appropriate manner. What is important to know about this process is that is requires a great deal of energy, so, if you over or under load the brain you will not get the result you want.

Think of it this way. If you overload the stage with too many actors, eventually none of them will be able to act. The stage will be too crowded too move as the script calls for and lines will be lost as everyone speaks at once. On the flip side, not providing any actors on the stage makes it impossible to understand the point of the play.

Given the above, I suggest that effectiveness in communication is nothing other than supporting the brain in processing incoming information and making new connections that will later be recalled as memory. To do this, you first need to understand how the brain works, and then train yourself to be pick up the subtle indicators that will guide you into providing more information or less. In my experience this requires time, patience and training.

We often take for granted what is actually going on when we speak to people. Just imagine what is possible through understanding what happens when we communicate.