fbpx
Bank Your Knowledge

"Learn. Learn. Learn. The greatest competitive advantage for an entrepreneur is knowledge."

– Mark Cuban, billionaire, Shark Tank

Home

Back to start

START HERE

KNOWLEDGE PROFIT

TESTS

TAKE & HIRE

TOOLS

Products I Love

BLOG

GET THE LATEST

My STORY

WHO IS TAMELA?

The Nature of Communication: People Fill in the Blanks

The Nature of Communication: People Fill in the Blanks

SHARING IS CARING

a roller coaster being built as a metaphor for the communication processBeing an entrepreneur, creating and selling an online course in your area of expertise, and/or doing life coaching demands excellent communication skills and a fundamental understanding of this essential communication principle:  People fill in the blanks for what is not communicated.

My suitcases are monstrosities: big, black and very heavy. And of course, at every airport I am given a “Heavy” sticker (not good for a woman’s self-esteem). Fortunately for me, I don’t have to lug those suitcases around myself. Paid drivers abound.

Since I am usually engrossed in my own thoughts (Where is this hotel? What city am I in today?), it’s easy for me to forget entirely about the weight of those suitcases. Their presence had simply become a “given” in my traveling life.

What Do You Do For a Living?

This was why I was startled by the question of one driver several years ago: “Ma’am, what do you do for a living?” Before I could answer, he shot back, “Are you a geologist?” Then I remembered the suitcases. We both laughed and he quickly added the explanation, “Rocks in those suitcases, Ma’am?”

Another trip. Another driver. “Ma’am, did you just leave Fort Knox?”

Another trip. Another driver. “Ma’am, do you have Little Men in those suitcases?”

And so the saga went. Each driver assessed the suitcases and came up with his own explanation for what made those suitcases soooo heavy. And therein is my point: All a driver KNEW about my suitcases was that they were big, black, and very heavy. The drivers filled in the rest. People do the same with your communication. What you don’t communicate, people fill in.

This Communication Principle Needs to be Applied in Every Setting:  Same Issue, Different Place

I once watched this scenario play itself out in a community college setting. There was a very vocal “student council representative” who had many grievances against the administration. Suddenly there were accusatory posters covering every public bulletin board in the college. I was a part-time new faculty member and didn’t know much about the intricacies of the situation.

I did, however, know from lots of conflict training that there are always two sides to every argument and that judgement is best reserved until you have heard from both parties. I also knew from the classes that I was teaching that there were a lot of students who didn’t share his sentiments, but who did express concern about the accuracy of the accusations.

With time, the messages on the posters increased in both frequency and vehemence. One day, while in the Dean of Student’s office, I casually mentioned the student and the situation.

The Dean simply said, “He has the right of free speech. We’ve looked into his behavior at other institutions and this is a pattern. We are not going to his level.”

“Are you sure that is the right approach?” I queried. “People don’t know whether the accusations are true or not if you don’t address them.” He shrugged. “It will blow over. I think we have chosen the best approach.” Something bothered me about that choice.

one fish not allowed into the communication process because he can derail itThe Costs of Not Understanding This Communication Principle

A couple years passed and I had the opportunity to ask the Dean about the results of that decision. “Well in retrospect,” he said, “I think we should have addressed it. We chose the wrong approach. There have been many repercussions since. We are still cleaning up the mess left by that guy.”

As a final aside, the “dissenter” had now moved on and was doing the same thing in another institution, but the repercussions of letting others “fill in the blanks” in this institution lingered.

In addition, the more the anxiety around an issue, the more people crave explanations and information. When there are rumors flying through the office grapevine, it is very important to “fill in the blanks” with correct information. Nature abhors a vacuum and something will be created….it might as well be the facts.

Let’s say the office rumor is that the plant is going to be closed down, used for scrap metal, and employee’s job duties will be taken over by gnomes. Soon, people will “fill in the blanks” with the personality, the gender, and the political persuasion of each gnome. They will be discussing how the scrap metal will be used, and when the cranes will be showing up—in a word, they will “fill in the blanks.”

The Higher the Stakes, The More Important it Is to Get This Communication Principle Right

Application of this communication principle means that you take the time and energy to communicate as comprehensively and accurately as you can.

The higher the stakes, the more important this communication principle is.

And it means that when there is an obvious problem of miscommunication, you take the time to address it.

The application of this principle obviously varies by situation, circumstance, person, and relationship. Friends “fill in the blanks” with good intent; enemies “fill in the blanks” will ill intent; neutrals “fill in the blanks” with an explanation that seems plausible to them, whether or not it has any basis in fact or substance.

This principle does NOT mean that you over-communicate or over-explain; such choices can easily be seen as weakness or insecurity. You simply keep this “fill-in-the-blanks” communication phenomenon in the back of your mind and be astutely aware of its impact. In other words, communicate very consciously with your clients, family, and in other important relationships.

And if you want to know what’s really in my suitcases…it’s all three: gold bars, rocks (to put in the mouths of the Little Men so no one suspects their presence), and of course, Little Men …well, okay…gnomes…I got them from the last plant closing.

SHARING IS CARING

CREATE A PROFITABLE COURSE

(Using Knowledge You Already Have)

    Find Your Purpose

    How to Find Your Calling from God: 7 Truths about Your Purpose

    One of the most challenging, but also one of the most important things, we will ever do as believers who strive to follow God’s will is to discern His calling or purpose on our lives. How do we know what God has planned for us? What if we make the wrong choices? Will...

    Career Change at 40: 4 Famous Case Studies That Prove You Can Do It

    Making a career change at 40 can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right attitude and support, you can make a successful transition to a new field. First, understand the reasons why you’re making the change. Are you bored, burned out, or are you...

    How A Professional Coach Got Me Unstuck & Into My Law Career

    The road to becoming a lawyer had its challenges but it was the Bar Exam, waiting for me at the end of three years of law school that had me facing some inner weaknesses which were so profoundly overcome with the help of a professional coach. After All the Work of Law...

    Peter Principle Pivot: From Incompetence to the Perfect Fit

    The Peter Principle is a concept that was developed by Dr. Laurence Peter in the late 1960s. It is defined as the idea that “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” In other words, it is the tendency for employees to be promoted to...

    Create Your Course

    12 TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE You Need to Create Your Course

    Did you know that having the right knowledge can dramatically impact your success and your income? There are 12 types of knowledge and each one matters. Having the right kind of knowledge can help you create an engaging course that would ensure the success of both the...

    8 Ideal Traits of an Epic Instructor Who Loves Teaching

    Most of us, somewhere in our lifetime, has been the recipient of great teaching and have sat under the tutelage of a great instructor.  Today Lifelong Learning is a must.  Everyone in every professional community will be asked at some time to fill one or both...

    Knowledge is Power Quotes

    Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world. -Archimedes (and Knowledge is that lever) No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire. - L. Frank B....

    Create Your Breakthrough

    Finding Meaning in Pain and Struggle in Life with the Right Tools

    Sometimes pain and struggle in our life don't make sense.  We often fight the same battles over and over, but there is a way out and a gift at the end.  However, these are not automatic and only come when we met certain conditions. Pain and Struggles in Life Create...

    Olympians Balance 2 Mindsets for Max Impact: Mindset is Everything

    When desire burns white-hot, it is a powerful motivator. Maybe you want to make money from your ideas, teach what you know, or create an online course.  Becoming a Knowledge Entrepreneur is mentally stimulating, financially lucrative, and can truly make a difference...

    PROFESSIONAL GOALS: Increase Your Odds of Achievement by 40%

    Are you looking for ways to increase your odds of achieving your professional goals? It can be daunting to try and set and reach a goal, especially when it involves something you are passionate about. However, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of...

    Overcoming Obstacles: Her Arms & Legs Don’t Work (But Her Life Does)

    “Please raise your hand if you understand this concept,” I said, to the college class. Angela cleared her throat loudly. By this time, very comfortable with Angela, I smiled and said, “Okay, Angela, you are excused.”  It was a testament to Angela and her self-effacing...

    365 Quotes for Every Day of 2023

    January 1, 2023 If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. - Dalai Lama January 2, 2023 Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success. -Biz Stone January 3, 2023 Reality is...

    Categories