Be A Better Communicator.

Suppose hearing aids come with three settings.

  1. Help you hear by amplifying and clarifying sounds in your vicinity
  2. Help you listen by focusing your thinking on what is being said.
  3. Help you understand by assessing the meaning of what is being said.

Which setting would you value most?

If your hearing is perfect

You may have noticed that a child cannot hear you call them for supper when they are playing a video game, but they can hear you open a bag of potato chips from across the street. Their hearing is fine.

How often do they mangle your instructions? Their listening skills are less perfect.

Everyone successful has a carefully tuned ability to catch the meaning of what someone else says.

What you hear, even if you are paying attention, is not necessarily the meaning.

Words don’t convey much meaning.

The theory is that communication with language is about 7% the words, about 33% the tone, and the rest is found in body language. If you listen carefully and only notice the words, your life will be very difficult. A Ralph Waldo Emerson thought, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.In another form, the idea becomes “Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.”

We help children learn to speak, but we spend less time on the skills of listening and extracting meaning.

Success relies on meaning. 

Suppose you are a young man who has met a young lady and would like to take her out for dinner. You text an invitation for Friday. (Text is a bad choice because both tone and body language are absent –  the 7% solution.) The same is true with email. Be sure your message contains is a bigger idea than words.

She replies she can’t go because she is doing research for a term paper due in three weeks. What does that mean? It might mean she has to do research, but probably not. It could mean she is uninterested or threatened, or maybe she is shy. She might be married or in a serious relationship. Maybe she doesn’t like men with dark hair. You cannot know. because your chosen method couldn’t capture enough communication.

How you communicate matters more than the words you use.

Deriving meaning 

There are many in our lives who wish to deceive us.

Politicians are the most common. They are often the best at it too. Prime Minister Trudeau is a master of tone. The comforting voice conveying an order. Donald Trump used tone differently. It was used to arouse those who already supported him or to induce an ill-considered emotional response from his target.

Most use body language well, but in the form you get from media training. Once you know what to look for, you can tell it is controlled rather than spontaneous. Then then you look deeper. Pay attention to what you see. It is contextual. Does the body language match the tone and the words? If not, what should you think about that?

If you watch experts do it, notice they pay attention to establishing a baseline behaviour and then look for variations from it.

You can learn from videos produced on Youtube by The Behavioural Panel. This one, of murderer  Colonel Russell Williams, is quite helpful but very long. You will quickly discover that body language inconsistent with the message or previous baseline is to be noticed.

Have a listening aid and a meaning aid. Hearing is not enough. Communicating is active.

The bits to take away

Most of us don’t pay enough attention to communication. People can fool you if you don’t.

If you are the sender of the communication, you can learn to be more impactful if you pay attention to previous responses received from that form of communication.

If your approaches are not generating the desired result, get some training and experiment.

Many people, especially since the Covid-19 shutdown, have too little skill in face-to-face conversation and overuse text and email.

Learn how to start a conversation. It is an everyday useful skill. The key variables are interest and respect.

I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software startup, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning. I have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Federal Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at

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