What is the essence of communication? According to the 2003 Encyclopedia Britannica, communication is "the exchange of meanings between individuals through a common system of symbols." That finition is certainly broad enough for us to wander around in while we look for its essence.

Let's look at an example. You're hiking along a trail on the North Shore of Lake Superior in late spring. You round a bend in the trail and come face to face with a mother black bear and her cubs. She rears up on her hind legs and roars; you freeze in your tracks and start talking in a soothing tone, maybe even start crooning a lullaby. Eventually, Mama Bear calms down a little, and you slowly start backing away down the trail.

Was there communication there? You bet.Even though you and the bear could not share words, you definitely exchanged meanings. Mama Bear said, "Back off, Jack (or Jill)!" And you said, "Okay, just don't bite my face off." Both of you understood the symbols, her roar and your lullaby, for their intended meanings. And each of you got your intended result: protecting her cubs and your face.

What made the exchange work? A desire to understand and to be understood. That, I believe, is the essence of communication. If there is a true desire for understanding, those with that desire will work out the common set of symbols and exchange meanings until both sides understand one another.

What does this mean for you and me in our network marketing business?

When you sit down to write your newsletter or autoresponder series, you're writing to an individual. You may have a thousand subscribers, or even tens of thousands (lucky you!), but each one is sitting alone, looking at a screen, within his or her little bit of private space when he or she receives your e-mail. Readers should feel like your message was written especially for them.

This desire to understand is what makes coaching the powerful tool that it is. Coach and player exchange meanings, modifying them until they have a common meaning, which empowers the player to do things the player simply could not do before. However, coaching cannot take place without desire. The coach must desire to coach; the player must desire to be coached. Without both, nothing happens.

If your presentation, your Web site or your coaching is designed with a "one size fits all" approach, don't be surprised when it doesn't produce your intended result. There's no one-to-one connection, so there's no desire, and no exchange of meanings. You put yourself in the position of the prison warden in Cool Hand Luke:

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."



JOHN MCCABE publishes
the Success Letter (www.SuccessLetter.com), a weekly email newsletter for home based business owners.