We humans have evolved over many a millenia. A couple of thousand years back, our primitive super ancestor (no not the monkey) who supposedly came from somewhere in Africa decided one day that he should really get out of his immediate confines and perhaps go on a vacation someplace and see how far he could really go.
This bloke got out of Africa and went far and wide and his family and his family's family and their family and their servants and their families and their families' dry cleaners and cooks and their.....you get the picture.....went all over the world and established communities. Today with the help of modern science we can each trace back our route to our earliest ancestor and really witness the amazing journey which they embarked upon. About two years back I participated in National Geographic's Landmark Project - The Genographic Project which is a five year study to establish an atlas of human evolution across centuries.
Participation is in the form of sending your DNA sample and getting it evaluated to ascertain your origin and the journey of your ancestors. And its really amazing to know that almost the entire upper part of India is directly descended from that one super ancestor group called the Haplogroup which emerged somewhere in Central Asia about 30000 years ago and gradually migrated to India.
So now that we've glanced back in time and history, let's come back to the point. Our multi-location evolution also resulted in the emergence of cultures, languages, gestures and religion. These characteristics stemmed initially from the lifestyle that was literally imposed upon by local terrain, climate and living conditions as humans settled across the planet. However a lot of our understanding and beliefs have had a more common and universal origin, our quest for answers and communication.
Answers to questions about a supreme power, the sun, the moon and seasons. Each culture and subculture interpreted these questions in their own way which is why we have vibrant interpretations and answers for some pretty fundamental questions. Our fundamental desire to share knowledge and thoughts led to the evolution of language, the spoken word and other methods of communication. Here too we get a taste of vibrant cultures and lifestyles. For instance, from the gentle and polite French language to the mechanical, rugged and stern German language to a common denominator amongst many popular languages - the elegant Sanskrit.
However, returning to the root this article, simply knowing the language does not really make you an excellent orator or an intellectual. Deep inside each one of us lies an interpreter which absorbs, processes and delivers responses which we speak in our native language or known languages. Spoken word & style is one of the most fundamental components of communication and behaviour and is unique to most human beings. We learn from everywhere, from hearing our parents, friends and peers speak to reading newspapers and books to watching films and television. Our ability to absorb cultures, images and sounds and adapt is what makes us a unique sentient race amongst so many living creatures on Earth.
Understanding and studying behaviours, communication and cultures is therefore, of paramount importance especially for creative professionals such as animators and artists who have to ultimately reach out to diverse culture groups and deliver content which makes sense and evokes the right string on the emotional mandolin.
Over these years, I've had the chance to meet a wide diversity of people and have had the good fortune to learn more about their unique characteristics, lifestyles and communication abilities. What makes you successful in life is also based, to a great extent on your ability to communicate your thoughts and project your skill in the right way and your ability to convert your thoughts into accurate sentences, phrases and gestures and finally be able to respond correctly.
As an example, when someone asks you a question, your ability and spontaneity to Anticipate the direction of the query before completion of the sentence followed by your body language and Action and finally a composed and correct Reaction defines your talent and skill in the most appropriate manner.
There are people who think before they speak and then there are the ones who speak before they think and this makes up for a huge difference. When you listen to someone speaking, pay attention to each and every word and think about what has just been said. Those who have the patience to listen are the ones who can think correctly before a response. However the most important behaviour or trait to develop is perhaps the spontaneity with which you Anticipate the question, devise/deliver an Action followed by appropriate and consequent Reaction itself.
Another issue is that you will find a lot of people who do not speak clearly nor have a neutral or generic accent. Most of us who come from far and wide have local accents. This only tends to put a hurdle between you as the speaker and someone else as the listener, especially if he/she is from some other region as well, because almost everyone can understand a neutralized accent but it becomes difficult to comprehend cross culture accents. And is it difficult to neutralize your accent ? Not really, if you start listening to people with a tad bit more patience and go that extra mile in making sure you refer to the right resource and correct your words and accents. You can talk in any language and thats immaterial as far as this discussion goes. But talk clearly and talk sense. Its as important as good clean handwriting.
The worst comes in the form of people who can see clearly, hear clearly and even then cannot reproduce factual/visual/intellectual data correctly. As a rather odd and simple example, a lot of people in our country pronounce the word 'Desktop' as 'Dekstop' simply because its phonetically convenient and comfortable. Others cannot pronounce 'Sh' as in 'Sharbat' and end up with a comical 'Sarbat'. So its not just English we're after. What you're intentionally or unintentionally doing infact is exposing your inability to pay attention to details and follow a correct response mechanism. This may go unnoticed generically speaking but such things come lashing down upon you at some point or the other where your services are required in a mission critical situation. You're most certainly not bound to be the preferred one unless you're in a group of similar-abled individuals.
Let me define the basics here.
Anticipation in communication is the ability of a speaker to know his audience before he acts or reacts. Your observational skills are paramount here.
Action in communication is your performance as an orator/speaker and how accurately you interpret your thoughts moulded as per your Anticipation earlier.
Reaction in communication is your ability to respond to the audience's reaction as a direct response to your own Action earlier.
Its essentially a cyclic process but requires an involuntary concentration to ensure smooth and efficient run.
Yet one more interesting observation is that while people do work on their anticipation skills, they often undermine its importance. For instance, let's say you're with your friends who are all from marketing while you're an animator. You show them an animation clip which you've made. They tell you that the clip's great but the video quality looks bad and weird. And you tell them its only a playblast !!!!! Now, did you anticipate your audience's frame of knowledge and domain of expertise here ?
Most surely not because they will jump back at you asking you what a playblast is.. If you had only explained to them in plain simple sentences that you created a low quality version because it gets created quickly and you get the benefit of checking up the animation, they would've understood it bang on. This is critical when your job involves speaking or you're in a situation such as an interview.
If your interviewer is from the management side of things and is not a techie and you tell them that the demo reel is not playing smooth on their machine because its Sorenson Video 3, do you think they will understand ?? But if you tell them that your demoreel's video file type plays slow from a CD but if they copy it on the hard drive it would play correctly, they would be able to understand. We often assume the other person knows what we're talking about and this is the single biggest mistake. Assume your audience has to be spoon fed everything.
That way when you're speaking, you will cover all points to ensure the conversation or lecture is meaningful right down to the core.
You will be able to extend your success gamut by paying attention to your inherent ability to communicate. So start learning right now. You don't have to join any courses when you have the whole world in front of you as your mentor. Learn from everywhere, read books, newspapers, watch and listen to movies, television, your friends, parents and that monkey at the zoo......
The worst comes in the form of people who can see clearly, hear clearly and even then cannot reproduce factual/visual/intellectual data correctly. As a rather odd and simple example, a lot of people in our country pronounce the word 'Desktop' as 'Dekstop' simply because its phonetically convenient and comfortable. Others cannot pronounce 'Sh' as in 'Sharbat' and end up with a comical 'Sarbat'. So its not just English we're after. What you're intentionally or unintentionally doing in fact is exposing your inability to pay attention to details and follow a correct response mechanism. This may go unnoticed generically speaking but such things come lashing down upon you at some point or the other where your services are required in a mission critical situation. You're most certainly not bound to be the preferred one unless you're in a group of similar-abled individuals.