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Am I Making Myself Clear?Secrets of the World's Greatest Communicators
By Terry Felber
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Terry Felber
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Art of Communication
There may be no single thing more important in our efforts to achieve meaningful work and fulfilling relationships than to learn to practice the art of communication. -Max De Pree, Leadership Is an Art
Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to have been the greatest American president. Winston Churchill has been regarded as the most inspiring English statesman in history. Johannes Gutenberg has been named one of the most influential men of the last millennium. And Mother Teresa is recognized the world over as an outstanding humanitarian.
What has made the lives of these individuals so different? What is it about these persons that has set them apart? Certainly it is a combination of many factors, including passion, determination, faith, circumstances, and a positive attitude.
But there is something else-a "something" rare and yet available to everyone on Earth-that turned a gangly lawyer into a world leader, changed a stuttering adolescent into a catalyst for allied peace, enabled a simple newspaperman to transform the way the world thinks, and helped a frail woman give hope to thousands.
That special "something" is the lost art of communication.
This is more than simply talking to another person. The art of communication is the dance that we have with others. It involves our words, our actions, and our intentions. It is a two-way dynamic that relies on our vigilantly watching and reading the other person in order to determine the next step. The individuals listed above all engaged in this dance, and because they did they were able to deliver their incredible gifts to the world.
A new generation of world-changers is alive today. Every one of us, including you and me, has been placed here on Earth with a special set of talents and insights that can benefit people. Don't let yourself be content to rock away your best years with drifting thoughts of what life "could have been." Grab hold of your destiny!
If we could only communicate our ideas well, our world would dramatically improve: Our jobs would become more satisfying, our bank accounts would grow, our marriages would be happier, our families would be healthier, our minds would be sharper, and our overall quality of life would be brighter.
As you read this book, I invite you to enroll in the School of Communication. As you determine not only to study these principles but also to actually apply them, I guarantee that your life will change for the better.
You're a good candidate if:
you're a parent who would value more meaningful conversation with your teenager.
you're a wife who would enjoy more time and attention from your spouse.
you're a salesman who wants to close the next deal.
you're a husband who would like more affection and zest in your marriage.
you're a student who hopes to have your choice of jobs after graduation.
you're an employer who would like to cut turnover.
you want to be the person God made you to be!
This book will teach you the significance of what you say and how you say it. If you embrace and practice the skills taught in this book, your life will be transformed. The possibilities for fulfilling your potential will be limitless. Not only will you have ideas that can change the world, but also you'll have the skills to communicate them.
We've all seen the results of poor or inaccurate communication:
poor instructions-a failed exam
poor posture-a lost job opportunity
poor listening-a rejected sales offer
I love this true story of professional golfer Tommy Bolt who, while playing in Los Angeles, had a caddy with the reputation for constant chatter. Before they teed off, Bolt told him, "Don't say a word. If I ask you something, just answer 'yes' or 'no.'" During the round Bolt found the ball next to a tree. He was going to have to hit the ball under a branch and over a lake to land it onto the green. He got down on his knees and looked through the trees to size up the shot.
"What do you think?" he asked the caddy. "Five-iron?"
"No, Mr. Bolt," the caddy answered.
"What do you mean? Not a five-iron?" Bolt snorted.
The caddy rolled his eyes. "No-o-o, Mr. Bolt."
Bolt hit the ball with the five-iron, anyway, and the ball stopped about two feet from the hole. He turned to his caddy, handed him the club, and said, "What do you think about that? You can talk now."
"Mr. Bolt," the caddy replied, "that wasn't your ball."
That's the way life seems to work sometimes, doesn't it? Breakdowns in communication are all too common. The primary reason families struggle is poor communication. USA Today recently published the eye-opening results of a study on teenagers and stress. When the teens surveyed were asked where they turn for help in times of crisis, their most popular choice was music, second was peers, and third was TV. Amazingly, moms were number thirty-one on the list and dads were number forty-eight. These teenagers obviously experience little ability to connect with their parents in a meaningful way.
According to another survey, married couples have nothing to talk about after only eight years of marriage. Professor Hans Jurgens asked 5,000 German husbands and wives how often they talked to each other. After two years of marriage, most of them managed two or three minutes of chat over breakfast, twenty minutes over the evening meal, and a few minutes more in bed. By the sixth year, this was down to ten minutes a day. A state of "almost total speechlessness" was reached after the eighth year of marriage.
There is the account of a woman who went to a lawyer saying that she wanted to divorce her husband. The lawyer asked, "Do you have any grounds?" The woman said, "Yes, we have nearly three acres." He said, "No, ma'am, you don't understand. I mean do you have a grudge?" She said, "We most certainly do; it's a three-car garage." The lawyer tried again. "Maybe I'm not being specific enough. Does your husband beat you up?" The woman said, "No, I generally get up a half-hour before he does." By now the lawyer was frustrated. He said, "What I need to know, ma'am, is why you want a divorce." "Oh," she said, "that's easy. My husband just doesn't know how to communicate."
Other surveys tell us that over 80 percent of the problems people encounter at work are related to a breakdown in communication. Think of it: If we could just discover the secret to successful communication, we could avoid 80 percent of the challenges that occur in our professional lives.
The twenty-first century is alive with technology. There are more and faster means of communication today than ever before. We can send e-mails across the world in seconds. We can phone our friends from the tops of mountains. We can connect live via video to people thousands of miles away. And yet the chasm between our current situation and our future opportunities seems to grow bigger and bigger. In spite of these incredible tools of communication, we have failed to learn the art of communication.
My hope is that this book will build a bridge between where you are today and where you want to be. As you read this book, you will see POWER POINTS set apart in each chapter. These are specific "nuggets" of information that can be applied to your communication arsenal for immediate results. I encourage you to highlight these points and to practice them in everyday situations.
Excerpted from Am I Making Myself Clear? by Terry Felber Copyright © 2007 by Terry Felber. Excerpted by permission.
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