I gave a talk at the end of March about my concept of feeding the goldfish when it comes to communicating. At one point during my presentation, I discussed just how valuable communication is as the most fundamental skill we possess as human beings.
We discussed how effective communicators, especially in agriculture in the social media age, are able to connect on such complicated topics, with audiences that have no understanding of a topic. One of the ways they are able to do this is through being relatable - they somehow connect with an audience on a mutual level. An easy way they do this is by finding common ground and finding out what the audience thinks and feels before they share their opinion and perspective.
One of the lessons I imparted with the audience of enthusiastic agriculturalists was the following idea:
Communicating is a two-way street, involving listening AND talking.
So often, we think communication is about talking, when it fact communication is a two-part process involving the most important part of the process... listening.
We all know those people who forget this concept.
The people who do a lot of talking but don't care to listen to what others have to say. Or those situations we all have been in where you are speaking with someone and you recognize early on, they aren't even genuinely listening to you, they are already thinking of the next thing they want to say.
You can see it in their facial expressions; their head is nodding but you can see behind their eyes that their wheels are turning, already thinking about the next thing they are going to say back to you. And you can tell instantly with their initial response, whether they sincerely took in what you said before they spewed out what you knew they were cookin' up.
Yes, we as human beings like to hear ourselves talk.
But the best communicators are those who take in what people say and listen.
Those communicators get the most out of conversation because they genuinely care about the people they are conversing with and what they have to say. Through listening FIRST, they are able to find common ground and mutual respect so the person/people/audience listens back to them.
As I shared that day with my audience, communicating is in fact a two-way street - try and not only be the driver, but the passenger. People will respect you for it and you'll be a better communicator because of it.