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Communication = Angle + Timing

Mayan_equinoxHappy first day of Autumn!  We're coming up on my favorite time of year... the cooler temps, the colors, football, holidays... and, oh yeah, the Mayan ruins.


The Mayans, whose culture centered around southern Mexico and the central Americas, were amazing astronomers.  The ruins at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula are evidence of this.  Every year, on both the vernal and autumnal equinox, a shadow forms on the staircase of the main pyramid (the Castillo) and takes the appearance of a giant snake.  Accident?  I doubt it, or the Mayans would not have created a giant snake's head at the base of the stairs.  I was there 19 years ago (next spring) and it is truly a phenomenon to behold.  Still, it only happens twice a year, at exactly sunset, on this one building.

That's also how it happens in communication, isn't it?  It's all about timing and the angle with which the message is delivered and perceived.  I was checking out Ron Karr's blog, and he provided a great example of timing in communication.  Our timing is a constant conscious decision... or at least it should be.

So... how can you adjust your communication to achieve just the right angle or perception at just the right time?  Well... there's an ART to timing and perception:

  • Ask - start your communications with the question:  "is this a good time?"  Often body language will give you the answer, but be sensitive to the message recipient if it's not a good time.
  • Role Play - test out your message on somebody else before you deliver it to your intended target.  You may have some unintended sub-messages imbedded.
  • Target - determine the outcome of your communication.  Instead of asking what you want to say, ask what you want your target to hear.

And if you can make it Chichen Itza by sunset, say hi to the tourists for me.


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Valeria Maltoni

What a fascinating way of looking at communication! You had me at "is this a good time?" Yes, permission is the first step in establishing an open line where communication can take place. As well, testing your message is sage advice. As much as we'd like to think we're rational beings, there is always an emotional component to communications. I quote myself, "The meaning of communication is the response it elicits, not the intention." You put it so well! Thank you.

Timothy Johnson

Valeria - thank you for stopping by. Coming from a conversation guru such as yourself, your comments are very high praise. Yes, timing and testing are important, and they derail communication way too often.

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