The BLOG: Voices

Six understandings about communication that can change the world

The past week brought communication of conflict and crisis. I read news of human violence, learned about friends in difficult circumstances, and I had hard conversations. My mind was on high alert. As situations arose, I was one part anxious, one part awkward, and one part focused. Have you been there?Where I was directly involved (with my parents, with my colleague, with my client, etc.), I knew that my words would either increase peace or provoke hostility. The way that I responded to conflict, tension, and difficulty, would result in more unity or more division. Six key understandings helped me to respond in a way that improved the world around me. Perhaps you could apply these understandings to your challenges also.

Let’s start with the understanding that, the way people relate to one another determines the degree of peace and unity within a community, organization or family. Communities, organizations and families cannot flourish if the relationships inside of them do not. To strengthen community, organization or family then, you have to start by improving how you relate to others.

Second, humans relate through verbal and non-verbal communication, which means communication is the basis for your relationships. Relationships only get better when the communication inside them gets better too.

Changing How You Communicate

Communication is a byproduct of how you think about yourself and how you think about others. Filters, biases, thought patterns and mental clarity determine what you will say, what you will write or what you will reveal in non-verbal communication. To improve communication then, you need to change how you think about yourself and others.

Yet studies show that, even when your intentions are productive, messages don’t always land as intended. This leads us to the fourth understanding. To improve the likelihood that your message lands well, you need to structure your communication to align with your intentions.

Here are contrasting examples that illustrate this point:

I remember a meeting not long ago when I rambled and over-explained an idea. My intentions were to build trust and consensus, but I left the other people confused and frustrated.

In a different meeting, though, I clearly and methodically structured my explanation in a way that made sense and was congruent with my intentions. People were more unified and cohesive as a result.

Have you experienced the impact of well-structured communication?

This brings up the fifth understanding: coaching helps us grow.

You can improve your intentions and how you structure your communication through practice and coaching. I work with a coach, for example, and he recently had me “re-live” a relationship interaction. He first demonstrated how I could have communicated differently and then had me practice it. His coaching not only applied to that particular relationship interaction, but it was also transferrable to other similar interactions. It was a model for structuring my communication to align with my intentions.

And this is the sixth understanding. Models and systems form the framework for coaching. Coaching is about transferrable and transformational growth. Coaching helps you change how you structure your message to align with your thoughts so that you can communicate more effectively.

So changing the world boils down to these six key understandings:

6) Models help you grow as you 5) accept coaching related to how you 4) structure your message to align with 3) your intentional thoughts as you 2) communicate verbally and non-verbally in 1) your relationships which form the basis of your community, organization or family.

Do you want to change the world? Start by finding a coach with a good model.

Matt Norman

Matt Norman

Matt Norman is president of Norman & Associates, which is the largest provider of Dale Carnegie Training programs in North America. He is the author of several articles published by Dale Carnegie Training and Training Magazine on organizational effectiveness and personal growth. He blogs weekly at