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Communication, a learned skill or inherent trait?

Communication: is it a learned skill or something that is inherently in us, a part of our personality?

The reason I ask is because in my 40 years in business it repeatedly comes up as the most significant characteristic needed to be truly successful.

Simply talking is not communicating. Listening, processing other people’s thoughts and opinions, and then speaking is communicating.

Sharing of information is key to successfully completing any endeavor we take on. But we need to be prepared to hear and understand other’s thoughts and concerns in order to truly be effective. If we go into a conversation with our own pre-determined opinions as our goal, there is no point.

So I’m sure you are asking: ok, so what’s his point?

My point is this: education even from the best schools does not teach us to truly listen before we talk. Speaking without having all the information is an absolute recipe for disaster. Superiority is a curse. Business is about collaboration, communication, listening and learning from one another in order to put the best ideas on the table. When egos drive communication, the result is an epic failure.

Our industry is complex with many disciplines working together to execute every aspect of what we all do everyday. Multiple disciplines working together is the very reason for the need for excellent communication. Bringing together architects and designers with real estate and facilities with contractors and furniture people is our daily lives. How we communicate effectively is the measure of our success or failure on any given project.

So, learned or inherent? That is the question. I believe that no small part of communication is inherent, but it is not impossible to learn and develop the skills necessary to be a successful communicator. Our only obstacle at times is our ego.

So I encourage you to stop, listen, process, and then speak — you will be amazed at the difference.



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