I have always been passionate about communication, a confident speaker, writer and diplomat but as is often the case when things come naturally to you, I took them for granted. I managed to get my own way in discussions and captivate audiences where ever I spoke. People would ask me how I did it and in my arrogance I shrugged and said I was a natural. That was good enough until I began working with others and I realised that sometimes I was not getting my message across, I was entertaining but not informing or influencing nearly as much as I thought I was. I began to study those around me, reading books on the craft of communication and watching myself and this was the most valuable analysis. I realised what worked well and what didn’t. What worked well, I made work better and what didn’t, I learned. I joined groups like Toastmasters to study others and practice techniques in a safe environment. I worked with others at seminars and watch them like a scientist watches a Petri dish and with some we fed off each other becoming better. I no longer took anything for granted.
Living and working in a country where my native English is not the native language of those around me gave me an insight into crossing communication borders, you see language, words and grammar is not the most important part of interactions. Many business people, particularly those from Japan will take interpreters with them irrespective of whether they speak English or not. They have realised that sometimes a buffer is necessary when in discussions with people of a different culture. They do not see it as a weakness but an extra line of strategic defence so they can focus on their strengths.
Globalisation has opened, quite literally a world of opportunities but it has also created a world of skills that business people and entrepreneurs need to acquire. I have been working with computers for over twenty years and I’ve managed to build my own and work with demanding operating systems like Linux but when I need some programming done, I ask a pro if I want it to work.
Communication is everything; the rise of the internet has taught us that. It has become such an essential part of the world we live in because existing media were not enough to satisfy mankind’s need to share ideas. Many would have you believe that it can replace the need for an office or a boardroom or a business lunch but what we can get down a bundle of fibre optics is a long way from replacing the interaction between two live human beings. I love music and listening in the car or at home or just from my phone is great but I wouldn’t pass up the chance to see my favourites live.
Opening and maintaining effective and meaningful channels of communication has facilitated the growth of humankind since the AGORA of ancient Athens through the Sermon on the Mount, the printing press and radio to where we are today. I am still passionate about communication, I am still learning but now I can teach what I know and teaching is one of the most challenging forms of communication.