Communication Changes the World

I’m a believer in the effectiveness of communication for social change. But I wasn’t always.

I used to think that talk was cheap, but now I know better. Words do, indeed, matter.

In fact, I’ve come to believe a radical truth: Communication changes the world like little else can.

Communication Changes the World
Photo Credit: Kheel Center (Creative Commons)

Where would we be without the telephone or the Internet or political campaign speeches?

What would the world be like without television or radio?

Where would you and I be without the gift of conversation — of a text message, a meeting, a note?

Talk is… cheap?

Correction: Talk can be cheap. But it doesn’t have to be.

Talk is just talk.

It’s our actions that make them cheap. Not the words. Words are symbols of the lives we choose to lead.

I’m compelled to use this gift of communication to change lives. It’s happened before, and it can happen again. Here are three ways that communication changes the world:

1. Communication breaks down barriers

Learning a second language in college has taught me a lot about cultural barriers and language. It turns out that translation is a myth, that there is no such thing as fluency, and that all communication is interpretation. (Each of those are a blog post or conversation in and of themselves.)

When you are communicating with someone in their own language and style, there is understanding. And with understanding, there is empathy. There is connection.

2. Communication inspires

Have you ever been inspired by a speech? Did you ever see a movie that left you feeling full of life and excitement? Maybe you had a song’s lyrics touch your heart?

That’s communication at work. The artful, dynamic power of a message sent and received with success.

When tragedy befalls a country, what do we expect? We look to our leaders for consolation, for comfort, for inspiration. And how does that come?

Through communication:

  • A radio broadcast.
  • A TV announcement.
  • A speech.

There is something about the written or spoken word that inspires us to be better than we could be on our own, something that unites us and connects us to ideas in extraordinary ways.

3. Communication teaches the communicator

When you’re delivering a speech, writing a book, or even crafting a blog post, there is an implicit requirement: You have to understand the message yourself.

If you don’t, the message makes no sense. You can only fake so much. (Very little, in fact.)

So what do you do if you don’t know the subject? How do you prepare for your message?

You do research. You study. You learn.

Even if you have thorough knowledge of your subject (which is a good idea before attempting to deliver a message), you should still deepen your knowledge.

It may be a quote or a series of historical events or a fun fact that you commit to memory, but professional communicators are always learning new things.

You learn a lot just through the process of putting together the message, because as a communicator, you’re positioning yourself as a teacher.

And everyone knows that teachers make the best students.

How have you seen communication change the world (or you)? Share your thoughts in the comments.

This is part of a synchronized blogging effort that the folks at Dynamic Communicators Workshops are hosting here: “Communication that Changes the World.” You can follow it on their website or via Twitter at #SpeakForAChange.

Other Posts on World-Changing Communication

*Photo credit: Kheel Center (Creative Commons)