PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
For years I’ve used an introductory dialogue for classroom Communication topics. It involves a tee-up, “Based on research done by the US Navy years ago, different people have different preferences in the way they receive information.” And then I write on a flipchart the following, while saying most of these words:
- 45% Readers
- 45% Listeners
- 5% Both
- 5% Fool
The key is this: While I’d write Fool, I’d say Neither. Typical of American humor.
In a room of 20-25 people, around half would laugh, the others would wonder why they are laughing. It is because some were listening, and others were reading.
Improving Communication Effectiveness
But this little vignette brings up a very important point: Statistically, about half of all people prefer to listen to get their information, and about half prefer to read it. Which are you? While the cited statistics say that about 5% do both equally well, the majority of all participants usually think they are part of that 5%. And the majority think their husband/wife/manager/co-worker/customer (pick one) is the last on the list above.
Great communicators seem to intuitively understand the preferences of their audiences. Meanwhile, I resort to using simple models and observation to approximate a similar result. At least, I do when I focus on Conscious Communication, rather than just using my own preferences, and expect that everyone else understands perfectly. Is this Reader/Listener preference why many of us only communicate effectively with half our audiences? And then we wonder what’s wrong with them? Perhaps we can all benefit from a bit more Conscious Communication.