We humans are the most skilled at it. We use a more complex form of it than any other species. And yet… we’re often found woefully lacking in it.
Communication is one of the key reasons we have evolved from nomadic, cave-dwelling creatures into the technologically advanced race that now populates most regions on Earth.
Or at least, that’s the theory.
In reality, despite our many complex languages and huge brains, our ability to accurately discern what each other thinks, feels, desires, and needs is often found wanting.
To help you improve your own communication skills, here are some quotes that shed light on the many nuances of effective transfer of information.
Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.– Roy T. Bennett
I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.– Larry King
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.– Epictetus
When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.– Ernest Hemingway
You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.– M. Scott Peck
Two monologues do not make a dialogue.– Jeff Daly
On Saying Too Much
Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.– Robert Greenleaf
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.– often attributed to Plato, but no evidence for this
Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.– D.H. Lawrence
Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.– Pythagoras
Today, communication itself is the problem. We have become the world’s first overcommunicated society. Each year we send more and receive less.– Al Ries
Speak only if it improves upon the silence.– Mahatma Gandhi
On Being Understood
The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.– Sydney J. Harris
How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.– Andrew Grove
Good communication does not mean that you have to speak in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs. It isn’t about slickness. Simple and clear go a long way.– John Kotter
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.– William H. Whyte
On Nonverbal Communication
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.– Peter Drucker
What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.– Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.– Stephen Covey
Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.– Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.– Walt Disney