October 30, 2019 ~ 2 min read

When struggling to connect, mix up your modes

SpeakingWritingWeekly Tips

Different people perceive things in different ways.

Some people understand things best by hearing them. To explain something to them or persuade them of something, the most important thing is to have a verbal conversation.

Others perceive best by reading. I'm in this boat. If you want me to really grok what you're saying, write it down for me.

Others have to see something in pictures. My last boss was extremely visual - if you wanted him to understand anything you had to sketch it out.

If you don't know what it is for your audience, you can get stuck. So if you feel like you're not getting through, mix it up!

Trying another mode

Most of us not only have a go-to learning style, we have a go-to communication style. Maybe you like to talk to folks one on one. Or you like to put everything in writing.

Whatever it is, at some point you're going to run into a situation where it's not working. Instead of banging your head endlessly trying to find new ways to say the same thing, try another mode.

If you're speaking, try drawing what you had in mind.

If you're writing, ask for an in-person conversation.

Oftentimes just changing things up can help you break through.

Some content works better in particular modes

The other thing to be aware of is... sometimes it's not about the person and more about what it is you're communicating about.

For example, I've found that when talking about a software design, it is infinitely better to show a prototype than try to explain it.

Similarly if you're planning a physical space, a few quick sketches will communicate your intent far better than any words.

Expanding our modalities

Do you know your go-to mode? And what are you doing to expand beyond that?

My go-to mode is writing, so I'm now continually working on my speaking skills, reminding myself to try that mode.

What's your go-to? What are you doing to expand beyond that? I'd be curious to hear from you.

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Kevin Ball

Hi, I'm Kevin Ball (alias KBall). I'm a software engineer turned trainer and coach focused on communication and leadership skills. You can follow me on Twitter, or check out my software-focused work at Zendev.com.