What I realized doing the work I do is... Communication is like mixing chemicals. Sometimes it creates exciting discoveries… sometimes it’s fruitless and sometimes it just blows up!
The Chemistry class at my high school was pretty cool. I’m sure yours was similar. Marble counters, Bunsen burners, microscopes. Petri dishes. But the most important piece of equipment in any chem lab are the goggles. Because hey, mixing chemicals can be messy and dangerous.
Unfortunately, we don’t have goggles to protect us from the mess and danger our communication can cause BUT we do have other ways to protect ourselves - training in the brain science and techniques of effective communication – something I call the Chemistry of Communication.
Imagine a communication as an empty test tube. Each person pours his or her mix of elements into the tube. Sometimes those elements blend and harmonize and we get a discovery like penicillin, a terrific marketing strategy or the iPhone. Other times, a particular element hits the tube and the contents smoke, bubble, give off a putrid odor and explode. Why does that happen? Could have been because the test tube environment was the wrong temperature or one of the elements needed to sit longer, be diluted more, be diluted less… these are things that in a lab, scientist can experiment with.
These are also things that in the workplace, home or social situation, communication coaching can help with.
To master the Chemistry of Communication you need to:
- Recognize the goal of the communication.
- Know the qualities of others involved
- Know to mix in just the right concentration of your element
Often communication messes can be avoided by steering clear of the following habits:
- Failure to take the temperature: Do you walk into a conversation determined to say all you need to say without taking the temperature of the room? Are people tired, hungry, ready for a break, busy with something else, emotionally triggered by a situation or event? No matter how fabulous you think your contribution is, if people aren’t ready to hear it, things can blow up.
- Failure to Dilute: Are you coming on too strong? Are you over-sharing, saying more than people want to or need to hear? In this information age, many of us feel that we have to do huge data dumps in order to be seen as smart, competent or important. Dumping data on someone is like overfilling the test tube. All of the elements spill out and the solution is rendered useless.
- Over Diluting - Are you not assertive ENOUGH? Or are you passive aggressively withholding your opinion? Do you struggle to get to the point or clarify your message? Just remember, you might be just the element a particular formula needs but if added at the wrong concentration - too weak - the entire experiment/experience is fruitless! Don’t weaken your contribution.
Keep these tips in mind and contact me if you want a complementary discovery phone call with me to find out how to work on your communication chemistry.