Back in the old days of journalism there was a reporting rule that an objective news story should be written at a 5th grade level. Anybody over the age of 10 should be able to read the newspaper and understand what’s going on in their community and world. Though modern news media has moved beyond this philosophy in the same way it has moved beyond objectivity and print on paper, it is a great backdrop for what this post's talent seeks to do when it has been developed into a strength.
Communication is a Connect talent that builds relationships through the wonder of words. They talk their way into your life or use the pen or other creative expression to engage with others. They relate ideas, events, concepts and feelings to life and help others learn using stories, examples or visual aids. When Communication has been developed into a strength it does what the community newspaper used to do - take complex information and break it down so everyone can have mutual understanding.
The Kryptonite of Communication is those with this talent may forget good communication is a two-way street – a dialogue and not a monologue. They may have a habit of thinking so much about what they are going to say next that they are not listening to what is being said to them. A huge upgrade to this talent is when those with it have added listening skills and the art of asking questions.
I have been surprised to see how few people who have Communication have developed it into a strength. It seems they realized at a young age they have the “gift of gab”, whether it was getting in trouble for talking in elementary school or being able to wing it in a high school speech class. This early success can bring a confidence that keeps them from adding skills, knowledge, and experience to the “gift” as they progress through adulthood. Left undeveloped, they may be perceived as a poor listener or an “overtalker.”
A common misconception to debunk is that not all people with Communication enjoy speaking in front of a group. Some may prefer one on one or intimate group interaction. But once they begin the journey of intentionally taking their Communication talent to a Strength through writing workshops, public speaking, media courses, or groups like Toastmasters they rapidly rise to new heights of connecting others with their messages.
One of the best communicators I have worked with is Connor, a young man in his 20s. He has developed this talent not only in his speech but through leadership classes, creative writing and video production. He can connect with a crowd in minutes in a way that transcends age and experience and colorfully takes complex concepts and makes them easily understood to be applied. He is always thinking and preparing new and better ways to engage with individuals or help his audience, personal or virtual, learn and comprehend.
Connor and others who work to develop Communication into a Strength comprehend the magic of the talent because at the end of the day communication is not about what we say, but about what others understand.