Running a start up and being a parent are very similar in many ways. There are a lot of sleepless nights, many things are out of your direct control, and there is a lack of a consistent routine. When things are this hectic, it makes effective communication even more important.
The reason this is so fresh in my mind is that I just witnessed some really poor communicating at the airport, from a gentleman in his 70's no less. I was late for my flight but I have a CLEAR card which allows me to skip to the front of the line so the TSA (free massage!) can do their thing. When he saw me being ushered to the front of the line, he lost it and began yelling at the top of his lungs about someone cutting in line. This is an example of horrible communication.
What ensued were several CLEAR employees explaining to the man that this is a service that San Francisco International Airport offers and that I was not cutting in line. It took a few minutes to calm the man down and he only calmed down after other passengers repeated what the CLEAR employees explained to him. If you get wiser as you get older, this man lost in the game of life.
I can understand the outrage and the emotion (I'd get pissed too if someone cut in front of me) but the lack of civility was quite disheartening. Society likes to reward the alpha male/female and because of this, people think effective communicating is talking louder (or more forcefully) than someone else. If the way you communicate makes someone tune you out, it doesn't matter how intelligent or articulate you are, the message will NOT be received.
Humans are very emotional so what is the best way to communicate? For me, if it is something that will be emotionally charged, I always try and sleep on it for a night and see if I feel the same way the next morning. In normal situations, I always try and use a calm and assertive tone. When dealing with my daughter, I noticed that if I raised my voice even a little, she would go into her shell. Once in her shell, it becomes extremely difficult for her to hear anything that I say. I see this happen amongst adults as well, especially if someone REALLY wants to be right.
Ego is one of the things that really gets in the way of effective communication and something we should try and be cognizant of. When communicating, have an open mind, be receptive to what the other person is saying. Try to understand their viewpoint and LISTEN to their full argument. My first sales manager once told me, "Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk."
So what does this all boil down to? It all comes down to showing each and every person that we share this planet their fair share of respect. While we still have many of our mammalian instincts, we were also blessed with cognitive brains. Use that brain to fight off some of those primal instincts to curse or yell your point across and speak calmly and intelligently. Nobody likes a raving lunatic yelling things at them (even if that lunatic is right) so the next time you feel the urge to yell your point, just take a deep breath, and ask yourself "Is this a good way for the person to truly understand what I am trying to say?" This monkey will bet that 99 times out of 100, it isn't. Respect and one love.
Seibo aka StoneMonkey