KATHMANDU: Larry King, award-winning host of CNN’s Larry King Live was very nervous on the first day of his radio broadcasting. He writes in his book How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere, ‘My mouth feels like cotton. The music comes on. Then I fade the music down so I can begin to talk. Only, nothing comes out. So, I bring the music up again and fade it again. Still no words come out of my mouth. It happened a third time. The only thing my listeners are hearing is a record going up and down in volume, unaccompanied by any human voice.’ Finally the general manager (GM) of the station kicked the door open and exploded: ‘This is communications business.’
That instant, Larry leaned forward on the microphone and said his first words as a broadcaster: ‘Good morning. This is my first day ever on the radio. I’ve always wanted to be on air. I’ve been practicing all weekend. I’ve had a theme song ready to play. But my mouth is dry. I’m nervous. And the GM just kicked open the door and said, ‘This is communications business.’’ He then writes, ‘I was never nervous on the radio again.’
What Larry did was authentic speaking, that is, simply communicating exactly what is going on at the moment. It was so
powerful that it transformed the situation. Had he tried to hide the nervousness and pretended to be confident, the problem would worsened. Authentic speaking is effective — not only in the case of nervousness, but in all situations.
Most communication problems occur because we speak everything but the truth. It is not because the truth is very complicated, but because it is very simple and we ignore what is simple. Truth is the only obvious, but we do not pay attention to it, hence
it becomes oblivious. Here truth does not mean something philosophical but the simple things going on around us and how
we feel inside.
Mostly what we talk about are our interpretations, arguments, justifications, judgments and rationalisations. But not the truth! According to a
communication expert, truth is that which cannot be argued about. If we can include them in our communication, our communication becomes authentic.
If we analyse what Larry said on the air, they are unarguable. He said, “My mouth is dry.” It was a bodily sensation. Physical sensations can never be argued about. Then he said, “I’m nervous.” It was his core feeling. Can someone’s feelings be argued over? He said, “I’ve always wanted to be on the air.” This was his intention. How can we argue someone’s desire? Rest of what he talked was the plain description of the situation.
Usually rather than simply describing things, we unintentionally complicate the situation by trying to explain it. If we can only be little more in attendance to our bodily sensations, sense feelings of the heart, observe the thing with neutrality and articulate them precisely, our communication will be much powerful.
(The author is a leadership trainer and consultant associated with ‘Kabule — The Wise Leader’ and ‘Catalyst for Transformation’.
He can be contacted through email@example.com)