If you actually read my pompous words of wisdom, you may have noticed that many come from things I have heard or noticed from normal life. Part of my normal life is to mindlessly watch television. Occasionally an actor says something that is so profound that I must write it down, analyze it and bore you with my analysis. This is one of those times.
The quote: “Well … generally, a key part of good communication is that both parties are conscious.”
What a great statement! I wish I had thought of that. The context does not matter nor does the show where it was said, however, if you are interested, Google the quote.
In my presentations I speak on communication a great deal. I mention that one must ensure to ask for feedback and demand the ability to provide feedback. I speak on the need to minimize internal and external noise. I even cover nonverbal body language to a great extent.
I never once said explicitly that a requirement is that both parties be conscious in such an elegant way. Quite often, we are speaking with others and their body language indicates that they have become unconscious. I don’t mean that they faint. I mean that the other individual gets that glazed look in the eyes, or suddenly turns the feet toward the door indicating that they are no longer listening. This is a form of communication unconsciousness because the body language is, in fact, an unconscious act.
Listening is hard work, and active listening is even harder. We all have had instances when we become unconscious during a conversation. Not just distracted by external happenings or internal thoughts about what the individual is saying. I’m talking about a total disengaging from the conversation where the speaker would do just as well by spontaneously disappearing.
To prevent ourselves from becoming unconscious participants we must be active listeners. To do that, we must ask genuine questions and provide good feedback often. This will demonstrate that we are actively listening and are fully engaged in the conversation. Yes, I am proposing that we interrupt the speaker at appropriate times.
What about when we are the main presenter? First, it helps if you are a great, knowledgeable, and interesting speaker, just like me. Otherwise you must ask genuine questions and ask for good feedback often. Yes, I am proposing that you stop making your main point to be sure that each argument toward that point is understood and accepted. Don’t just accept a head nod as it may only indicate a nodding off to sleep response. Ensure that you ask questions that require explanation rather than a yes or no. If this does not prompt consciousness then I offer these other, more dangerous actions.
When someone is literally unconscious some of the actions that are often taken include taking of the pulse, checking for breathing and elevating the feet and calling 911. If the person is standing and breathing then other actions may be required. I again caution that these actions may be detrimental to your own health. You can employ the use of smelling salts, slapping of the face, shaking by the shoulders and yelling in the face.
If you employ the above actions, be prepared to employ the ducking of your head and your swift evacuation of the room.
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