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Communications 101 By Christina Nepstad When it comes to effective communication, there is a fine balance between giving and receiving The Gift of Communication “I f we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” These are the words of Thomas Edison, a man de- scribed as America’s greatest inventor. Al- though mostly known for his invention of the electric light and power utilities, it was his creation of sound recordings and motion pictures that made him the single most important contributor to the development of mass communication. How cool is that? What is also remarkable is that each of us has the op- portunity to be the single most important contributor to the development of our personal communication. This is really exciting, not only because we get to be like Thomas Edison (kinda, sorta), but because how we communicate shapes every aspect of our lives. Take a moment and think about your current communi- cation style as it relates to your friends, co-workers, teach- ers, and parents. Are you patient, a good listener? Maybe you are more of a “talker” with tons of energy who gets dis- tracted easily. It is possible your communication style changes depending on who you are with. If someone makes you feel insecure, you might come up with a communica- tion style that is anxious, shy, and doubtful. If someone makes you feel appreciated, your communication style might be grounded in awareness, gratitude, and respect. Al- though this may seem like an effective approach, don’t be fooled by feelings; your best communication style will al- ways be reflected within the facts of what makes you unique and equipped to bring out the best in others. In fact, you are as unique as your communication style, which means it is up to you to accurately reveal your 46 PAGEANTRY strengths, gifts, and abilities through your communication skills. There are important communication philosophies which can also help you develop strong, effective, and con- sistent communication patterns. Here are four of my favorites: 1. Focus on the Facts 2. Cut the Fat 3. Offer Composure and Personality 4. Have a Gift-Giver Mindset FOCUS ON THE FACTS One of the most common ways we stumble into bad communication habits and patterns is by reacting to the way others make us feel, instead of trusting in the facts and believing in who we are. Yet, we must always remember, opinions and feelings are unproven and temporary, while truth and facts are proven and lasting. My former client, Denise, learned a great lesson about the importance of communicating with the facts. After an interview experi- ence where she broke down in tears and excused herself from the room, she decided to come see me. As we sat down to get to know each other, Denise cried at least four different times. Yes, she had blown a wonderful opportunity in her interview, and yes, she was understand- ably upset. She had developed a bad habit of filtering every- thing through feelings, until her feelings had become her facts. It is hard to be logical or effective when you are emo- tionally charged. Since feelings can change instantly and frequently, they tend to be distracting and counterproduc- tive. Denise started focusing on where the facts lived within her. Her homework was to identify 100 facts in life and 100