Communication Skills Learned from a Kite
The beach was perfect for our kite flying –great wind gusting in from the ocean, and the beach a wide expanse of soft sand. We hadn’t flown our kite in years. I wasn’t even sure we would remember how to rig it, launch it, and keep it airborne. This is no ordinary kite. It is a trick/stunt kite, one that can be guided, directed, indeed “steered”. Several failed attempts at rigging and launching finally resulted in success as the kite eventually climbed up to the sweet spot in the air currents where it danced in the sky.
The trick is to keep the kite moving so it doesn’t stall. It does not have to be moving fast, although fast is where the fun begins. The most important skill is re-acting at the right moment and with the exact pressure. Sometime this can be a gentle tug and sometimes it requires a sharp snap. Many times the smallest course correction can result in the most severe and dramatic changes in flight pattern. This is the most fun – steering the kite to dive abruptly, soar suddenly, and plummet quickly dancing wildly in the skies.
Flying this kite is a great metaphor for how we use our communication skills. Whether to persuade, sell, coach, convince, the goal is typically to produce some change in action. Yet we all know that the hard sale, pushing too hard, forcing a point, seldom succeeds. Successful communicators know that course corrections must be relative to the persons and the environment in order to work well. What is too much and what is not enough?
- Gauge the environment
Test the wind. Learn the level of coachability and needs of people/patients.
- Rig it right
Just as rigging a kite correctly ensures the ability to fly, setting foundational standards is critical for successful communication. Establishing best standards, systems and protocols from the start sets you up for success that launches quickly
- Keep moving so you don’t stall
Don’t give up. Just because something doesn’t work the first time doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Adjust and Keep trying.
- Small course corrections can produce massive results
Don’t overcompensate. Small shifts one at a time build to bigger changes creating ultimately huge shifts in actions and behavior.
- Work with what you got.
If the wind is strong you’ve got to pull hard. If it suddenly stops, your course correction must be small and subtle in order to re-capture that little puff of wind. Some patients/people require very strong support while others need only the smallest nudge to help them escalate their progress.
Go fly your kite. Rig it right, launch it, keep it airborne with constant course corrections and have fun dancing wildly in the skies of success!