Those strong in the Communication talent theme generally love to express themselves and bring energy into dialogues. They turn events into stories that they can tell. Often, they strive to express their ideas or feelings into expressions that stick. They use stories, catch phrases, analogies, examples, metaphors and pictures to put across a message. The genius of the Communication talent theme lies in one's ability to find words for not only his/her own thoughts and feelings, but also those for others. The Communication talent at its infancy stage is often labelled “talkative” or “bad listeners.”
Communication as a talent can however be easily confused with communication as a skill. A communication skill, such as the ability to project your voice or the ability to use the right graphics to enhance a message, can be learnt by anyone. However, the Communication StrengthsFinder talent can only be developed by the person who owns Communication as a dominant talent. Someone with the Communication talent investing in gaining communication skills will likely out-perform another without the talent making the same investment. The classic example in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller “Outliers" serves to prove that to succeed in life, heavy investment is needed, even for one with great talent. Conversely, one without the Communication talent might struggle to perform given the same investment of time and energy into gaining the skills. For someone lacking in talent, 10,000 hours of effort put in may still result in them looking silly.
From this point onwards in the article, Communication will refer more to the StrengthsFinder talent theme and less to the skill.
Communication is ranked second in my Strengthsfinder profiling test results. I enjoy expressing my thoughts in different ways. There was once feedback given to me that stuck: “Victor, every single time I hear you tell a story, I feel like I can enter into your story … and it comes alive. Your message is so much more dynamic and powerful because of the stories you tell.” This feedback deeply encouraged me to keep finding ways to grow my Communication talents and use it productively. Today, I use my Communication talents actively as a Singapore StrengthsFinder coach to run workshops both in Singapore and in different parts of Asia such as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India. Part of my passion to blog also stems out of my Communication theme.
How does one grow the Communication talent into a strength? Here are some suggestions.
1. FIND AN OUTLET THAT ENGAGES YOUR COMMUNICATION TALENT.
Some love to write. Some love to speak. Some love to sing. Find an outlet that allows your Communication talent to be expressed and used productively. Write blog posts or publish articles on topics you are passionate about, take on emcee roles, seek out speaking engagements, or sign up for singing performances. Do whatever it takes to find an outlet that can engage your Communication talent. When others spot this talent at work and encourage you, it will motivate you to keep improving and to find ways to be productive.
2. IDENTIFY THE LISTENERS AND THEIR NEEDS.
During public speaking sessions that are predominantly one-way communication, ask yourself: What are a few of the questions the audience might be asking? What are the needs to be addressed? Present and communicate in a way as if there were an imaginary two-way dialogue. Anticipate and answer questions that you believe people are asking as they sit in the audience. These questions can be easily sussed out by either imagining yourself as the audience, or simply doing some research by means of formal or informal surveys. The same concept can be applied to a written message.
3. SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.
Often, the key to effective communication is simplicity. Imagine your audience as very young children and focus on communicating in clear, simple ways. Practice using pictures, diagrams, simple words or short statements. The more you practice, the more you sharpen your thought processes and the quality of your communication. Forget complex phrases and big words. If you want to connect with people, keep it simple.
4. USE OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS.
Open-ended questions encourage others to express their thoughts and feelings more freely, without fixed structures. This is particularly important when it comes to 1–to-1 or small group conversations that focus on building deep relationships and trust. Seek to communicate by demonstrating that you are interested to discover more. Instead of yes-no questions, ask questions that provide opportunities for conversation. For example, a close-ended question like, “Did you have a good day at work?” can easily be changed to an open-ended question, “Can you share about your day at work with me?” Coupled with feedback, this technique of asking open-ended questions might allow you to find words to express thoughts and feelings for others as you listen in.
5. UNDERSTAND THAT THE MESSENGER IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE MESSAGE.
- Walk the talk. A humble messenger ultimately brings out a message filled with humility and such a message is deeply impactful. Align your life with your message.
- Level up. Great communicators constantly review their communication skills and take effort to sharpen them. Be it listening or expressing, in small groups or big ones, a great communicator constantly works to improve the effectiveness of his/her communication and is convicted about doing so.
6. COMMUNICATE WITH AN OUTCOME IN MIND.
As you communicate, remember that the goal of any good communication is outcome-driven. Good communication can lead to paradigm shifts, a greater understanding of any given subject, or an action that needs to be taken. Every time you speak with someone or to a group, give them something to feel, something to understand, something to remember, or something to do.
7. BUILD A COMMUNICATION TEAM.
A good communication team consists of those with strong creative talents, strong language skills and strong abilities to research and organize content. Strong partnerships can motivate a person with the Communication talent to deliver greater results. My communication team of 3 people, based in Singapore, has people strong in Communication, Ideation and Maximizer. I enjoy immensely the cohesion within the team and every article published gives me new motivation to go for another!
8. SEEK COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERSHIPS.
Partner those with Empathy
People strong in the Empathy theme enjoy listening to people in order to understand what others are going through. They prefer to listen first before speaking. People with Communication usually do the exact opposite, preferring to talk and share stories to excite and engage others. Effective communication requires both listening and talking and such a partnership can help one another to be sharpened and become better communicators.
Partner those with Deliberative
People with Deliberative like to be careful and vigilant. They hate to be rushed into doing something that they have not thought through clearly. Likewise, they prefer to think before they speak. They are mindful that loose words that come out of someone’s mouth can have negative consequences. People with Communication tend to be verbal processors. Words uttered merely reflect their thoughts and do not necessarily reflect any decisions made. People with Communication prefer to speak their mind because their thoughts are sharpened when they are able to speak freely. This partnership between those with Deliberative and those with Communication brings the awareness of the balance often needed in communication effectiveness. One needs to speak out more in order that others understand their thought processes, while the other needs to watch for careless words or the raw verbalized thoughts that can cause misunderstandings.
Partner those with Adaptability
People with Adaptability are very flexible and can respond quickly in circumstances that would otherwise be frightening or intimidating to many. They can easily imagine a scenario, unfold a game plan and perform in the most optimal way that best suits the situation. Many of those with Adaptability are talented in areas which demand that they adapt to situations on their feet. These can include live performances or emceeing roles. It has been observed that people with Communication can partner very well with those with Adaptability in speaking engagements. While the person with Communication enjoys sharing in a dynamic way that captures attention, the one with Adaptability is often talented at responding to the public speaking dynamics and fills the gaps with their own imaginative ideas. Such a dynamic partnership often has the greatest potential to captivate the audience.
Ending note: People with the Communication talent do not necessarily communicate thoroughly. They might not close the loop when it comes to communicating with others. But you can count on them to be dynamic and expressive people who can bring information alive!
Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command
As a Gallup Certified Singapore Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com), based out of Singapore. He has been actively giving Strengthsfinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.