We see a street hawker here, there and everywhere. He is a common man in our streets. We see him generally near schools, fairs, corners of a road or near stations.
He hawks his wares all day long.
The street hawker’s dress is very ordinary. He puts on poor looking shirt and a pair of pyjamas. His clothes have the stains of perspiration, grease and dirt. He often carries a bell in his right hand and a cane stand in his left hand.
He deals in things of daily use. They consist of vegetables, fruits, clothes, utensils, sweets, ice-creams, parched grams, soap and toys.
He places these things in a large iron tray. The tray is placed on a four feet high cane stand. He does not cover his wares.
He keeps them open so that one can see them at a glance. He hawks his wares at the top of his voice.
Hawkers are cunning. They know well how to attract a person. He rings his bell in a peculiar manner. He cries in a strange and sweet manner. He makes strange movements of his body. He beckons to this one.
Image Source: upload.wikimedia.org
He nods to another. To some he gives a sample. To others he gives something to taste. Thus he makes them say “yes, nice very nice”.
Thus he gathers a large crowd of his friends and admirers. As soon as a crowd gathers round him, his articles are sold like hot cakes.
His habits are dirty. They are unhygienic also. Flies sit on his sweets and other articles. He has no sense of cleanliness.
Still children wait for his arrival with their money in pocket. The street hawker brings things to our doors. Thus he does a good service to us. But he is not honest.
He is a big cheat. He overcharges his young customers. He sells stale and second-hand things. Inspite of his dishonesty he serves us.
He comes to our streets in the burning heat of the sun and the severest cold weather. Rains cannot keep him indoors. We need not go out to buy anything. The hawkers supply them at our doors.
The Municipal Committee has made some rules of cleanliness for him. He is supposed to cover his goods with a clean piece of cloth.
He should put on neat clothes. He is fined if he does not care for the warning of the Municipal Committee of the town.
The street hawkers are very popular among women and children in a big city. But they are so dirty that one should not buy anything from them.
The principles of effective communication that I am about to share with you will not only affect your business life, but impact every area of your life because communication is vital to everything you do.
- Principle One – Think First
This might seem like a simple and obvious principle, but you will be shocked at how many of us are in too much rush to talk, that we don’t think through what we are about to say.
Slow down. Think before you speak
What do you want to say?
Beyond what you want to say, think what do I want to achieve by what I am about to say. Sometimes, when we crystallize what we want to achieve through our communication, it alters our communication. Our communication becomes clearer and more direct.
When we rush into talking before thinking it through, we often look stupid and might even find ourselves in an embarrassing situation, where we have to stop-mid-sentence, saying “what am I trying to say?” (Has it ever happened to you?)
Leaders particularly have to master this principle because they are saddled with the responsibility of motivating others, which is primarily done through communication.
- Principle Two – Listen To Understand
Communication is a two-way street not a one-way lane. So, if you are going to be an effective communicator, you have to learn 'principle two': “listen to understand”. You must be a good listener. There is a reason you have two ears and one mouth. You should listen at least twice as much as you speak.
There is a difference between listening and hearing. You might hear something without listening; it does not take effort to hear (except for the hearing impaired); but listening, takes effort, it means you are making the effort to hear and understand. So, you can hear without listening but you cannot listen without hearing. You must listen with the intent of understanding what is being said, so that your reply can be intelligent and on point!
How many times has someone began to speak, and once you heard the first sentence, you assume you know where he was going, so you stop listening and start preparing your response? Then when he pauses briefly, you interrupt and rant off many miles, he looks at you incredulously, and says, “Did you hear anything?”
When you listen, and the point the person is making is still not clear, use clarifying questions to make sure you understand. Questions like “Did you mean...?” “Are you saying...?” “Exactly what did you mean...?” “I don’t understand, can you explain...?”
Listen with more than your ears, use your eyes too! We will learn shortly that communication is not just in words; a person’s posture and gestures can add a lot to the words they are saying.
- Principle Three – Communicate to be understood
Communicate to be understood and not talk to be understood, because, communication is in more than just words. What do you want to communicate? (i.e. what is your message?). What do you want to achieve through this communication? (i.e. what do you want the other party to do?). How can you best communicate so that it is clearly understood? (i.e. what is the best and clearest way?). What tone, volume and posture will communicate the message clearly? How do I communicate without putting the recipient on the defensive (unless that is what you want)? Is this the best time and place to communicate this for the desired result? (i.e. will I have the attention I required?).
If you ask yourself these questions when communicating, your communication skills will improve.
- Principle Four – Deploy Other Means
There are other things that make communication effective; they include tone and volume of voice, eye contact, posture, and gestures.
Your tone of voice can greatly impact the message that is received. If the tone is wrong, the message may be wrong. You may say, "sorry," yet, it does not sound, nor feel like you really mean it.
Some people are just too loud. Loudness brings emphasis. If you shout everything you say, we may not know what you really want to emphasize. Ensure you use the right volume for your messages. It is not appropriate to use 'bedroom voice' in an office conference meeting, it WILL be misunderstood.