Communication: Enough Said

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A wife asks her husband, "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get 6." A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk.

The wife asks him, "Why on earth did you buy 6 cartons of milk?"

He replied, "They had eggs."

(Okay, so a career in comedy may not be in my future.)

Recently, David Bernstein posted a piece in which he describes ten essential skills students will learn by being campus advocates that are not taught in the classroom. Most of those skills – marketing, recruiting, writing, public speaking – center on the larger concept of communication. Whether on campus or in the workplace, the ability to communicate effectively with friends, peers and colleagues, can be the key to achieving desired outcomes. This is especially true in the world of advocacy where relationships and messages are critical.

Kevin Daum, on Inc.com, recently listed seven best practices for effective communicators. While few, if any, are surprises, they are worth noting for their brilliant simplicity. Here are snippets from two of his points that should resonate with everyone involved in engagement and advocacy.

They Connect So many people begin with their own agenda. They have something to say or prove, and so they just start right in without considering the person on the other end. Often they simply broadcast their message, assuming people will think it's the most important information in the world. Amazing communicators know that people won't start listening unless they connect intellectually and emotionally.

They Disarm People are naturally on the defensive from over-communication these days. Amazing communicators are able to lower the defenses of those with whom they communicate. It's not that they are manipulative; rather they are comfortable, humble and authentic. They show genuine interest in the other person and use humor and authenticity to make themselves likable and nonthreatening.

Daum concludes with one point of advice that will make all of our little-league coaches or piano instructors smile: Practice! No one can expect to master a skill or technique without repetition.

Learn to be a great a communicator and the opportunities for success will be limitless. Learn to tell jokes and hopefully you'll be better than this.