Communication Skills: What You Say, To Whom, How, And When
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking if you become competent and master the subject matter of your field, that your success is assured.
That by itself does not guarantee success.
Don’t get me wrong. Competence and deep knowledge and mastery are very, very important. In fact, there is one common denominator that differentiates highly successful individuals from those who aren’t. It’s competence. Every highly successful person I’ve ever interviewed or studied is able to do something very, very well. Competence is the sine qua non of high achievement.
(I spent a number of years at universities with large and distinguished schools of engineering. Engineering students almost always regarded the courses they were required to take in the English department as an unwelcome burden. They needed to learn formulas and solve mathematical problems, not learn how to write an essay or do a term paper. That is, until they got out and discovered that from the git-go, they would need to be able to write reports and make effective oral presentations to their supervisors.
One highly successful Georgia Tech graduate whom I called on gave a large donation to the school specifically dedicated to teaching engineering students how to write. He told me that his first supervisor taught him how to do it and why it was important. He credited that instruction with helping him rise in the ranks of his company until he eventually ran one of the largest refineries in the world.)
The point is, whether you’re an engineer or a musician, you must find a way to let people know you are competent or talented or that you have discovered something really important.
What does it matter if a scientist discovers a cure for a deadly disease if he or she is unable to persuade physicians to try it? What does it matter if a better mousetrap is invented, but no one automatically beats a path to the inventor’s door?
Pericles is said to have observed, “He who cannot communicate his ideas stands at the same level as he who has no ideas.”
So it follows that you must learn how to communicate effectively—in your written communication, in your speeches and reports, and in your one-on-one conversations. Each of these modes of communication requires a different set of skills.
The time and money and effort that you spend mastering the communication process are an investment that pays a very high rate of return.
Knowing what you say, to whom, how, and when–those are the essential elements of effective communication—whether you are persuading a member of the board to support your idea, making a speech, convincing a customer to use your product instead of a competitor’s, writing a letter or an email, or preparing a business proposal.
–Gene Griessman’s presentations on Abraham Lincoln are internationally known. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. To learn more, contact us at 404-256-5927 or [email protected]
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