Communication is at the root of all our interactions. Often times we communicate with people based on the assumption that they understand all of our different expressions in the exact same fashion as we do. This plays out every day all the time in e.g meetings, interviews, job applications, amongst friends and family members and the list goes on. Presently, the fact that we have to do a lot of non verbal communication has further widened the possibility of being ‘easily’ misunderstood.
It’s important to ensure that the recipient of our message understands the message as much as we do (based on what is practically possible taking into account all limitations that may exist).
The culture map by Erin Meyer has really been eye-opening for me (still reading) and at some point, I wondered if this topic of implicit and explicit communication is as important as the topic of #unconciousbias. The Author alluded to some #cultures being more explicit in their communication than the others. While this is valid, I personally believe that we must be careful not to generalise.
In this article titled ‘Someone called Comms4comms’, I share more about this, I give a figurative use case and I share some helpful communication tips. I’ll leave you with these 2 statements:
- At the root of every misunderstanding is a lack of understanding and
- By taking on the burden of communication, you may be one step ahead of ensuring that a potential conflict is resolved even before it starts out.
The world is indeed a global village! Covid-19 taught us this amongst many things. Watching how the pandemic spread from one part of the globe to several other parts is indeed a testament to how connected we are in this world.
Some people come from cultures that are predominantly known to communicate in an implicit fashion while some come from the exact opposite however making sweeping generalisations is a critical mistake that people make more often than not. For instance, my home country Nigeria is made up of 3 major tribes with several minority tribes. Our rich cultural heritage is clearly seen in our diverse assortment of foods, clothing styles and of course our local dialects (this topic of communication again 😉). Perhaps the most important point is the clear difference observed in the way we speak and how we non-verbally express what is being said. Therefore fitting all Nigerians into one box based on the predominant communication style referenced by other people, the media or even personal experiences would be a massive blunder. I also want to ‘assume’ that this is the case for most countries of the world (if not all).
Now let’s play a little game with the figurative use case of someone called Comms4comms (aged 45).
- Comms4comms grew up in an ‘explicit communicating society’ but attended schools that predominantly had people from ‘implicit communicating societies’.
- Comms4comms went on from there to work full time in an international organisation that had a mix of different cultures (in other words a rich mix of implicit and explicit communicators). So far, Comms4comms has worked there for 10 years.
- To further complicate this use case, Comms4comms accepted an offer to relocate to a country where communication was largely expressed in an explicit form and has been based there for the last 5 years.
Question for you dear reader, what communication style would you expect Comms4comms to predominantly express? explicit, implicit, mixed or unknown?
Finally, here are a few tips that might help you when communicating or receiving information.
Be intentional about ;
- Not making assumptions.
- Reducing the expectation you have of people (especially the ones you are not close to).
- Giving & receiving feedback by allowing room for ample questions ( silly questions don’t exist in instances where the one asking the question is really asking to understand or seeking to be understood).
- Avoiding the use of colloquial terms, abbreviations or technical expressions that are not known by your recipient. For job applicants, it is important that your cv and or cover letter are as clear as can be while ensuring that your story is consistent and authentic.
- Be as clear as possible without of course insulting the intelligence of your recipient (keep in mind that some things are really not that intuitive).
I wish you God’s speed!