talk to your spouse, your
association president, your
friends, an assocation
director...what is so difficult about that?
Nothing should be. We have done it since
childhood. One-on-one communication is as
easy as breathing? Or is it?
The talking part is easy. Communicating
usable information one to one, or truly
understanding what your communication
partner is saying to you--that is the difficult
part. You think that just because you can talk
you can communicate effectively. Nothing
could be further from the truth.
Effective one-on-one communication
involves a whole series of learned skills, and
in this age of sophisticated communication
technology you would think interpersonal
communication would be flourishing. But it
is not. That, say authors Peter Urs Bender
and Dr. Robert Tracz, is due to the fact that
few people take the time (or feel they even
have the time) to learn the necessary skills.
Worse still, most people are not even aware
that communication skills can be learned.
Bender (author of three best-selling busi-
ness books and keynote speaker) and Tracz (a
professional speaker and personal develop-
ment coach) saw the need for a guidebook
on communication skills. They call it Secrets of
They realized individuals in government,
education, medicine, association and indus-
try sectors needed to be trained in one-on-
one communication to function effectively in
Both saw individuals genuinely trying to
communicate, but noticed that this interac-
tion often resulted in very little understand-
ing. In fact, misunderstanding was more
often the rule as face-to-face communication
went awry. Whatever the size of the organi-
zation, ineffective interpersonal communica-
tion was hindering growth.
Both men believed everyone could learn to
communicate freely, persuasively and with
confidence. So they set about to create a
guidebook that would help.
Central to the belief of both men is that a
systematic approach to one-to-one communi-
cation will help anyone excel at improving
their skills. Communication is one of the most
important and fulfilling activities humans can
accomplish, but like any human activity it
needs to acquire some conscious structure in
order for it to proceed with success.
From birth, humans begin to communi-
cate. If they do it well, they may achieve suc-
cess byond their wildest dreams. If they do
it poortly, they can be condemned to a life of
mediocrity and unhappiness.
By the time we reach adulthood, most of
our communication activities are performed
subconsciously. We use whatever communi-
cation skills we have whether we are aware
of them or not. The object of Secrets of Face-
to-Face Communication is to make individuals
more conscious of how they communicate
and how they can change their style to
become better at it.
Certain aspects of one-on-one communi-
cation are critical to its success. Listening,
questioning, understanding personality dif-
ferences and non-verbal communication
(NVC or body language) are crucial, says
The ability to listen and to respond with
intelligent questions is more difficult than it
first appears. The average rate of speech is
about 150 words a minute. The average rate
of hearing 500-750. Unless you listen atten-
tively and participate in the communication
process, you can be easily bored.
Active questioning indicates to your part-
ner you are interested in the communication
process. You are participating in an exchange
The trick is to use these skills appropriately
when dealing with different personality
types. Bender identifies four broad personal-
ity types that enable you to determine how a
person is behaving at any given moment.
He labels the four types The Amiable, The
Analytical, The Driver and the Expressive.
They are broad portraits, simplified so as to
be instantly recognizable, but each portrait is
drawn from extensive psychological, philo-
sophical and behavioral research. (To find
out what personality profile fits you, visit
Peter Bender's Web site at www.Bender.ca
and take the short, ten-minute test).
Once you recognize how a person is behav-
ing, you can deal with that person on a com-
munication level that is appropriate to the sit-
uation. Each individual responds differently.
For instance, there is no sense asking The
Driver extensive questions. He or she only
wants answers. But when talking to The
Analytical, be prepared to answer questions
about everything in detail.
The Amiable wants you to be prepared to
answer the "why" questions he or she will ask.
Do not push, do not rush and be a good lis-
tener. With the Expressive, ask and answer
"who" questions and keep the details minimal.
It is when you combine the ability to listen,
question intelligently and recognize person-
ality types with the ability to "read" a per-
son's body language that truly meaningful
communication becomes possible.
Charles Darwin was one scientist who rec-
ognized that our ability to signal feelings,
needs and desires was criticial to our survival.
Non-verbal communication, or body lan-
guage, reveals the truth about us more accu-
rately than words. Studies have confirmed
that it is more reliable, more accurate and
more informative than what is said.
Bender says that if the body language dif-
fers from the verbal message, the message
becomes confusing and listeners will go away
with a feeling of disbelief. Desmond Morris,
the British behavioral scientist says it most
succinctly, "Even the smallest actions become
gestures and gestures transmit messages."
Those messages, if you understand them,
enable you to read the individual and com-
The unspoken assumption (even if intellec-
tually we know differently) is that everyone
sees, hears and feels the world as we do. Yet
each of us receives, processes and remem-
bers information differently.
Communication proceeds on visual, audi-
tory and kinesthetic (or emotional) levels, so
it is important to use sensory words that
reflect that. Here is an example:
"I knew it was a robin because I saw its red
breast," is a visual image.
"I knew it was a robin because I heard its
cheerful song," is an auditory image.
"I knew it was a robin because I felt my
heart swell with spring," is a kinesthetic
image, loaded with emotional overtones.
Each of these images would react different-
ly with visual, auditory, or kinesthetic people.
If you are speaking to a group you might say:
"I knew it was a robin because I felt my
heart swell with the joy of spring when I
heard it's cheerful song and saw the flash of
its red breast against the green grass." You
have now communicated on all levels to your
entire audience, not just a part of it.
Everyone will get the message.
You have heard the phrase "I hear you!" It is
fine if you are talking to an auditory person.
But what about someone who reacts best to
visual images: "I see what you mean," might
be more appropriate. To someone who is
emotional or intuitive you might reply "I
understand you and feel the same way."
As well as understanding your partner's
personality type, try to always respond to
the appropriate sense of your listener. Your
message will be perceived more rapidly and
In Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication,
Bender and Tracz lay out dozens of practical
and down-to-earth communication tech-
niques and suggestions. Their objective is to
make you more conscious of how you com-
municate and how you can change your style
to become a better communicator.
Shannon Moore is a Toronto-based freelance writer
whose work has appeared in many Canadian pub-
lications. Peter Urs Bender is one of Canada's most
dynamic andentertaining business speakers, and
the author of three best-selling books: Leadership
From Within, Secrets of Power Presentations, and
Secrets of Power Marketing. His fourth book, Secrets
of Face-to-Face Communication, is now in book-
stores. He can be reached at 416-491-6690, or
©1998 Peter Urs Bender
Developed and Maintained by: