Communication: Striking the Right Chord

I’m always fascinated by the different ways people communicate with each other. Professionals in a boardroom speak differently to each other than if they were hanging out at a backyard barbeque. Folks in the trucking industry interact differently than they would in a room full of teachers or television producers or college students. Medical professionals have their own industry-speak, yet they may communicate differently with corporate healthcare businessmen and women.

Even when I travel home to East Tennessee, my speech and mannerisms clearly change. Yes, I can slip into a pretty cool twang when I want to. But, I wouldn’t be able to use the same accent, voice, or mannerisms if I was recording a voice-over or benefits video for a large corporation … that is, if I wanted to work with them again. That approach probably wouldn’t reach their audience. Yet, a southern edge would work nicely for, let’s say, a southern home-cooking show.

Why is it that we use so many different voices when we’re around different people? The answer is simple, isn’t it? We know that people won’t hear us unless we speak their language. Whether you’re reaching out to peers, employees, customers or consumers, you must speak to them in a way that relates to them if you want to be heard. It’s all about meeting people where they are and listening to them. That’s the tough part.

Effective communication is not just about what we say or even how we say it; it’s understanding those to whom we are reaching out, and learning to interpret what we hear in return. That’s truly the only way your message will touch your audience.

Are you striking the right chord with those you need to reach?