Best Practices, Operations, V7I6

Communication is Key

(Photo courtesy of Usman Yousaf on Unsplash)

Let me just start out by saying the show in Grand Rapids was phenomenal this year! If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, I’m sorry for you.

Not going to lie, it ran me a bit crazy. I paid to have a booth there (Shed Haulers Brotherhood) and I got paid to be in another one (, so it went by way too fast.

Lots of people, lots of old friends, and even more new friends. Thank you Shed Builder Magazine team for a great Shed Builder Expo! Well done!

Also, thank you for all the great feedback and encouragement from so many readers on my column here. I was amazed at how many young people read the magazine, and a lot of non-Facebook people that I got to meet. I tend to forget that. 

Sadly, this article will be more geared back toward my boring ways, and no shriekers involved. All good. Thanks again for the support. Means a lot.

Now, for this article. I’m going to dare to approach the touchy and over-used subject of communication. “Oh no!” you say. Yes, I know—the subject everyone and his neighbor has already covered. But, hey, this is me. Not your highly sophisticated and professional writer, so bear with me. 

Here, we can start with a couple of jokes about communication. There once were three dear old ladies sitting on the front porch visiting. 

“Sure is windy,” the one said. 

“No, it’s not Wednesday,” said the second, “it’s Thursday.” 

“I’m thirsty too,” said the third, and she got up and went and fixed them all some lemonade. LOL!

One more. Grampa and gramma were sitting out there on the porch, too. Grampa was getting a little hungry, so he suggested to gramma that some eggs would be good. Gramma hopped up and headed for the door. 

“I’ll make them scrambled,” she said. 

“No!” grampa says. “I want them over easy!” 

“Okay,” gramma says. 

It took her forever. Grampa started getting worried about what she was fixing him. 

“She’s going to scramble them,” he muttered. 

Finally, gramma came back out the door. She handed grampa his bowl of ice cream while she kept her own. All nice and fixed up with chocolate syrup, nuts, and a cherry on top. 

“I told you I didn’t want nuts!” grampa exclaimed. 

“But I remembered the cherry,” she said. Oh, dear.

Communication. It helps. Life is busy and hard enough without having bad communication. So, here are some simple points to help us along the way.

Focus. Why is it so hard to stay focused? I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone in particular, but oh wow! After being around people for 10 days straight, I started noticing something. We can’t stay focused anymore. Just watch. We get sidetracked almost immediately. Watching other people. Our phones. Anything. More later.

Energy. Hard to stay focused when you have zero energy. This is a tough one for me. You have to get your rest. Energy is important. Especially when you are the one presenting! Lose energy, lose your audience. Same if the audience loses energy.

Respect. Half the problems with focus can come back to respect. Respect the ones you are communicating with. Respect their thoughts. Their time. Their ideas. Their stories.

Rapport. Build Rapport. Some of y’all need to look this one up. Build rapport. It doesn’t “just happen.” It takes effort. And focus. And energy. And respect.

Engagement. Now, with the above tools, you can engage properly. You can ebb and flow. Back and forth. But, be careful. It is easy to take it over. 

Gramma says you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen. There are a lot of great communicators out there. The best ones are great listeners. Engage by listening. But, you have to listen with your face. Your mind. Your heart. Not just your ears. Don’t forget to stay focused.

Repeat. This one is weird, and it takes some time and practice. And sometimes it’s repeating back exactly what you hear so they know you actually heard it. Other times, you can be more subtle.

And repeat the thought back in a different tone or in different words. Repeating (mirroring) is a highly effective way to make progress and gain rapport in communication. When you repeat what was said, they know you are listening. And paying attention. 

Interesting note: Most people listen with one ear while they are already formatting their reply. They “listen” to reply, instead of listening to learn.

Attention. Stay focused, for Pete’s sake! They deserve your attention. Use everything I’ve just given you and learn to pay attention. So easy to do. So easy to fail. Could I ever tell some stories. 

I’ll give you one short one. A successful builder was at the show. (It’s hard to pay attention and stay focused at the show, I know.) He was not impressed with a couple of exhibitor owners; said they never gave him their attention. Always looking elsewhere. 

That’s tough stuff. Especially when he “was” their client. Oh boy. His comment was, “I guess that’s why they hire salespeople, to communicate better.” 

I’m not pointing any fingers. I’m saying we can be better than this. My toes were properly mashed. Ouch.

Personable. You have to be yourself. You have to let them be them. If the guy talks a lot, settle down and listen. Won’t hurt you. If they are a quiet crowd, engage them. Be yourself. Wait. If you want to be a public speaker, that’s different.

Some people shouldn’t be themselves, but that’s a different subject. Quite possibly, you need to get off your high horse, too. It amazes me how often I hear the cliched statement that you need to hang around people you want to be like. Come on. 

Sure, you need mentors, better people to help you, but you need to be the same to others. What if your mentors treated you the same way? We are all on our journey. Together. Be personable to everyone.

Exciting. Exciting is good. Overbearing is not. Learn to put a lid on it. And guess what? You can be excited when you listen. Huh? Yep, be excited that you get to listen. When you listen, you are learning. Be exciting, but tempered.

When we get excited, we tend to dominate the conversation. Learn control. At the same time, no one likes listening to a dry dish rag.

Connection. That’s the whole goal, right? Remember that. You have problems? Need solutions? Connect. Great communicators know how to connect. Learn your crowd. Learn your subject. Learn your art. So you can connect.

When you connect, you get great rapport. Which leads to great communication. Whether with one, or hundreds. Or thousands.

I’ll end with this. I love to talk. Whether one on one, a dozen, or a thousand. But more than that, I want to connect. When we connect, great things happen. Let’s make great things happen.

Communication is key. Without it, there are lots of assumptions and imaginations that can get you in trouble very quickly.

As always, I am here for all of you. If anyone wants to connect, I’m available. I love meeting each and every one of you. Life is so much better with people!

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