Roadblocks on the Communication Highway

communication-roadblocks-2There are all kinds of roadblocks that can get in the way of effective communication. Part of being a skilled communicator is understanding what stands in your way and how to avoid or overcome it. Just because you’ve been reading this blog for months and are on your way to being a communications master doesn’t mean that communication can’t fail. After all, (unfortunately) everyone else may not be working on their communication skills.

The art of communication is the language of leadership. James Humes

Ineffective communication leads to wasted time and money, confusion and misunderstanding – basically, a wreck on the communication highway. Here are a few roadblocks that you need to be aware of and prepared to avoid or overcome.  

  • Jargon. We all know people who insist on using long, complicated words or acronyms that are unfamiliar to almost everyone else. If your point is to understand each other, just don’t.
  •  Taboo. Some topics are simply off-limits. If their body language tells you the topic is taboo, switch gears.

 You can change your world by changing your words… Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue. Joel Osteen

  •  Lack of Attention / Distracted. If you can tell they aren’t focused when you need them to be, give them a minute. Go to bathroom or get something to drink. Still distracted? Change the subject and gain their interest then move back to your topic. If necessary, reschedule. Remember, you have no idea what’s going in their life. This may just be a bad time for the conversation.
  • Perception & Viewpoint. You should be able to express an opinion that isn’t shared by your audience… and so should they. Speak carefully and listen carefully.

Until you have learned to be tolerant with those who do not always agree with you, you will be neither successful nor happy. Napoleon Hill

  • Physical disabilities. Sometimes someone can’t hear you because they can’t hear you. Be aware of your surroundings and your audience and watch for non-verbal clues such as turning one ear toward you, leaning forward, or watching your mouth (lip reading).
  • Lack of non-verbal communication. Keep in mind that if you aren’t face-to-face, your body language and facial expressions have lost all their effectiveness. Find a way to verbalize your thoughts and emotions.
  • Culture. Social norms vary a great deal between cultures. Study up in advance.

America is a noisy culture, unlike, say, Finland, which values silence. Individualism, dominant in the U.S. and Germany, promotes the direct, fast-paced style of communication associated with extraversion. Collectivistic societies, such as those in East Asia, value privacy and restraint, qualities more characteristic of introverts. Laurie Helgoe

Here’s to a week full of productive, effective communication. I’ll leave you with this last valuable tip for the road…

 There aren’t too many principles of proper business conduct with which just about everybody will agree. Two come to mind: 1. Unless you’re a professional athlete, don’t offer co-workers encouragement by patting them on the butt, and 2. Don’t burn bridges. Dale Dauten

 As always, if we can help you get your messages across more effectively, in person or online, we’d love to help! Leave a comment here or on our webpage, and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Marie Mallory, Communication / PR Specialist, Irons Media Group


6 Tips for Building Better Relationships

photodune-6320359-build-relationship-s-740x371From my house to the White House, and all across this great nation, this has been a crazy and exciting week. In our office we’ve seen a lot of new faces mixed in with the familiar ones which means a lot of opportunities to build new relationships and cultivate older ones.

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection. — Robin S. Sharma

We all want more positive relationships in our lives because they just make life better all the way around. Positive relationships are the foundation of, well… life, and communication is the foundation of positive relationships. Focusing on relationships is truly my favorite part of what we do and I believe that it is the reason for a lot of our success. Still, none of us is perfect. So, what we can we do to build better relationships? Start with better communication.

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success. — Paul J. Meyer

Here are a few tips to get moving in the right direction:

  • Listen to the words being said but also pay attention to the non-verbal messages (body language).
  • Think about what is being said, not what you are going to say next.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. — Stephen R. Covey

  • This is hard to fake without getting caught so you need to find a way to be GENUINELY interested in what other people are saying if you want to have a positive relationship with them.
  • Be sympathetic to their trials and excited for their successes.
  • Make eye contact (but avoid the Creeper Stare).
  • Use first names when you can.
  • Make them feel like their thoughts and opinions are important because, if you want a relationship with them, they should be.

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. — Rudyard Kipling

  • Being able to see things from others’ point of view is crucial.
  • Keep your judgmental thoughts to yourself.
  • Be honest but kind.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. — Harper Lee

  • Do you know who likes encouragement? Every. Body.
  • Make people feel valued, wanted and appreciated through your words AND actions.
  • Ask open-ended questions – then refer to #1.

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • People like to laugh and people like people who make them laugh.
  • Laughing releases endorphins which relieves stress and anxiety and seriously, who doesn’t need that??
  • If you’re not funny and you know it – leave this job to your buddy and smile.

If you could choose one characteristic that would get you through life, choose a sense of humor. — Jennifer Jones

  • Be friendly, be optimistic, smile. It really is contagious.
  • Complain without criticism.
  • Don’t whine. Nobody likes a whiner.

You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind. — Joyce Meyer

Relationships can make you or break you – personally and professionally. Take some time to think about areas you need to work on and spend some time on them. And – I know that while you were reading this you thought of all the people in your life that really NEED to read this. Go ahead and send it to them… just make it a group email so you don’t single anyone out. As always, if you need some help with your online reputation or just need some Monday morning inspiration, we’d love to hear from you.

Have a tip for better relationships? Leave a comment! We can all use a little help.

Marie Mallory, PR / Communication Specialist, Irons Media Group

Seeking Strong Interpersonal Skills


We’ve all seen (and maybe written) ads “seeking employees with strong interpersonal skills”. Basically all that means is that we like to deal with people who can work effectively with a team and are able to communicate effectively with those they come in contact with. That doesn’t seem like much to ask.

In reality, strong interpersonal skills are harder to come by than you may think but they are worth the effort to master. Research shows us that people who have worked to develop strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives and more productive in general. Plus, they tend to be viewed as positive, optimistic, calm, confident and charismatic problem-solvers. These are the folks that everyone wants to work with and be around. If this is NOT you – here’s help… and a few funny quotes from Wiio’s Laws to keep it all in perspective…

What you need to know about interpersonal communication:

  1. It’s inescapable.You can’t not communicate. Even if you TRY NOT to communicate – that communicates something. If you aren’t talking – your body language is still communicating.
  • People judge you by your behavior – NOT your intentions.
  • Be sure your words & body language are saying what you mean.

“There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.” Osmo Wiio

  1. It’s contextual. Keep communication appropriate to the context you’re in.
  • You should not communicate the exact same way in the office, your home and a bar.
  • Think about where you are and who you are with before you walk in the door. 

“If communication can fail, it will.” Osmo Wiio

  1. It’s complicated. Theorists write that there are at least 6 people are involved in every communication interaction:
  • Who you think you are
  • Who you think ‘they’ are
  • Who you think they think you are
  • Who they think they are
  • Who they think you are
  • Who they think you think they are

Told you it was complicated. There’s a whole lot going on behind the scenes   during communication.

  • If you can tell that your messages aren’t getting across the way you intend them, stop and try a different tactic. 

 “The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.” Osmo Wiio

  1. It’s irreversible. Once it’s said, you can never really take it back.
  • You already know this… but it bears repeating:Think Before You Speak.

“If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.” Osmo Wiio

If your customers aren’t “getting” the messages you’re trying to communicate, give us a call. We’re always here to help.

Marie Mallory, PR/Communications Specialist, Irons Media Group