My communication style: I speak little,
I like seriousness, and I don’t like
Here’s a question for you: How do you know if a presentation, a job interview or an appointment went well?
You immediately start off saying “if you were affected at first sight …” We often fall into the trap of “first impressions”. All image consultants follow the idea “You have one chance to make a good first impression,” to have a hit. It is true that you always have first impressions. I know from my own experience that the first thing we hear about someone influences our judgment about that person and the first number we are told forms the basis of bargaining. This is called the anchor effect. But first impressions are not our only chance to make a lasting impression. The effect of a last impression is more important than the first impression. Where did I learn this? In Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschappina’s ‘The Communication Book: 44 Ideas for Better Communication Everyday’, which I read on a plane trip two years ago. It explained the 44 most important theories in the history of communication like a pill, briefly and in such a fluent way that I liked it very much.
According to the Peak End Rule, the reason why we watch television series one after another is the “lasting impression” effect. The Peak End Rule is experienced when television channels finish their episode on a cliffhanger. When it comes to communication, how we start a meeting, how we set the tone and break the ice is of course important, but according to the study of Nobel economics award winner Kahneman, the real impact comes when focusing on the last message, not the first message. The authors conclude each principle with a very beautiful parable. The main point of this subject is: “I don’t care about the opening sentences. The only thing that interests me is the last sentence. It’s the sentence the reader will go to bed with.’ (Elfriede Jelinek)
No communication is impossible. It’s a very natural action. We experience it every day, but I understood from this book that most of us do not know how communication works. Even so, there is not a single day that passes without asking questions, reading, explaining, and writing, listening, discussing, or sometimes just being silent. The Communication Book talks about simple tools to facilitate or improve communication. It takes us on a journey deep into the science of communication.
For example, in which situation are you aware which “I” is the one speaking? I don’t mean this in a way like “There is one other me in me, who is deeper than me” as Turkish Poet Yunus Emre said. But my friends know, there are many ‘Murat’s they deal with, such as the spouse, father, uncle, young man, manager/supervisor, industrialist, Turkish etc. Even they have different types, brave, impervious to the place of attack, with sarcastic characteristics depending on the situation. Do you think you’re any different?
There are examples of spontaneous events, where everyone, was someone else… communication examples.
In 1964, Eric Berne developed a model in Games People Play, and revealed that there are three “me states” that occur when we communicate with others:
1. Parental ego state: We are all a bit like our parents. This occurs when we protect others or tell them what to do or not. But it also manifests when we are thoughtful, empathetic, and helpful.
2. Adult ego state: When we communicate in a thoughtful, controlled and calm manner, we behave like adults. In other words, we use our adult ego when we express our opposition respectfully, act objectively, and react to constructive criticism.
3. Child ego state: Sometimes we turn into the child within us. You are irrational or defiant, stupid or timid. However, positive traits such as our imagination, curiosity and passion for learning are more evident in our childish communication.
When we communicate, one of the three ego states is always in use. However, we are not always aware of this; when we observe ourselves we can find evidence. Suppose a proposal we made in a discussion is rejected by the group: If we react in defense or in defiance, we are in child mode. If we argue rationally and make the proposal ridiculous, we’re in adult mode. But if we are morally arguing that others are wrong and the other party is wrong because we are right, then we are in parental mode. So one has to ask himself, what ego state am I in right now, parental ego, adult ego or child ego? I asked the same question to myself. I like seriousness. Personally, I am a serious man, I both protect and respect the limits of others. Because of my attention on this matter, those who do not know me well believe that I am sullen. However, I do not get angry so easily. The point is to prevent an event from becoming enflamed from the beginning. Getting angry after the fact hurts oneself. A bad temper harms its possersor the most. If you maintain seriousness and limits, the topic does not become hot.
I am patient. I value patience both in my business and in my private life. Even under the most difficult conditions and pressure, I do not disturb my mood and my calmness, I wait. My faith has also advised me of patience. So when I was patient, I don’t remember having any difficulties. I am one of those who believe that salvation can be achieved patiently. But patience should never turn into disgrace! In other words, patience is not just waiting and stopping, showing consent and bowing. It is a word with resistance in it. Looking at all these features, I can say that I mostly use adult ego in my communications. Even in communicating with my children, I use my adult ego, I use my “parent ego” as little as possible. While the family is having fun, of course, my child ego is activated. Another medium of communication where my child ego is active is my friends. How not … I have friends with whom I have been working with for many years. So much so that we have spent more time with each other than I’ve spent with my family. We know each other so well that there is no longer any need to talk and explain fully to each other. When I am with them, my child ego comes into play but of course a rather big boy. In fact, in my life, there are probably many more Murat Ulkers, the entrepreneur, industrialist, manager, friend, husband, father and grandfather… Who knows which one you might encounter when you meet me.
Most of the theories in The Communication Book defend the thesis “good communication is about cooperation”. Meanwhile, based on the book, The 48 Laws of Power, in which the Robert Greene describes classical power strategies, he proposes some fraudulent strategies, to be used against us, even if we do not use it, so let’s learn:
1. If in doubt, do not argue! If you are unsure about something, try not to reveal it to others. Doubt and hesitation only alleviate your arguments. With formulations that work for or against you, your opponent will see an opportunity to attack. Therefore, speak only when you are sure that you will realize your ideas, and do not back down, even if your plan crashes along the way. People forgive the mistakes of the brave, but do not trust those who doubt.
2. Talk less! Contrary to what is supposed, you should not try to convince the other person by talking too much. The more you speak, the more changeable and commonplace your thoughts seem. The victory you get with words is actually a victory with big losses, because nobody likes to be persuaded. If you always trigger your reactions with your actions, you will be in control. First of all, be calm and friendly.
3. Pretend to be ignorant! We often tend to be dazzled by intelligence and charisma. Try the opposite: make your opponent feel smart. He feels smug and become careless. When your opponent lowers his guard, you can attack. Feigning ignorance is the oldest war tactic. The Chinese say, “Look like a pig to kill the Tiger.”
4. Give up! If you can’t persuade someone, reevaluate your own situation: What will it cost me if I give up now? A smiling confession of defeat leaves a more confident impression than a reverse attack. Besides, the less attention you pay to the other person, the less satisfaction of others.
The quintessence of this theory is also interesting: “Oysters open completely when the moon is full; and when the crab sees one it throws a piece of stone or seaweed into it and the oyster cannot close again so that it becomes the crab’s bait. Such is the fate of him who opens his mouth too much and thereby puts himself at the mercy of the listener.’ (Leonardo da Vinci)
Here they suggest tactically “talk less“, but I am not a talkative person by nature. I’m a little surprised at talkative people – how do they find so much material. I guess this is because I speak little myself. As I have explained a little, I do not like to listen to unnecessary words and I stay away from meaningless conversations. Especially gossip. My inner circle knows, I don’t get angry easily, gossip is one of those situations where I can lose my temper, but because I keep my boundaries tight, I am exposed to rumors as little as possible. I mean, nobody comes and tries to “tell me gossip”. Why should I wonder who is doing what and where? Sometimes my friends make a fuss telling me I am never curious. I have never understood why I need to know other people’s secrets. Likewise, I do not share my secrets and troubles. But what if you listen and cure someone’s trouble?
Just as I get angry at gossip, there are other things I get angry with. These are not things that I could personally block, as I did in my private or business life. I get very angry with lies, waste, unjustice, damage to the environment and society. I get angry, but I do not hold grudges. It is not something I can understand to keep anger and hold anger in the heart for a long time. But I cannot forgive, because what has happened, no one can turn back time. But every mistake is valuable, if we learn from it…
FEEDBACK, Feedback is a job and word I don’t like very much, and hard to communicate. It is more about culture, maybe, I am not very good with it either. Sometimes people think that when you miss the dose, you could appear to be rude. If you don’t say “no” and almost never say “yes” like I do, then you get ‘what did Murat Ulker say?’, ‘I wonder if it is this, or was it that he was talking’ about.
“How do we communicate abroad?” There is a chapter with this title. Here the authors identified three main cultural and communication groups in Richard D. Lewis’ book When Cultures Collide (2005);
1. Linear efficient: These societies, including Germany, Switzerland, England and the USA, are linearly active. They speak as much as they listen, have a limited body language, speak politely but directly, tell the truth, and value the written word. They don’t do multiple things at the same time.
2. Multiple efficient: Societies such as Mediterranean or Arabs are multi-efficient; they talk a lot, gesture, are emotional, distort the facts, value the spoken word and do many things at the same time.
3. Reactive: Societies such as Japan, China, or Korea are reactive, they have a smaller area of speech and try to get the other person to speak first, they have good body language, they speak kindly and indirectly, they cannot communicate and confront face to face.
There are also mixed societies. For example, India has both reactive and multiple efficient properties. Canada is on the border between linear-active and reactive. If questions like “What? When? How many?” interest you, you are Linear. If you are interested in ‘how’ people communicate and relate to each other, you are multiple-efficient. If you are sure of ‘who’ is saying what and their experience and authority, you are Reactive. We sell products from Ulker, Godiva and United Biscuits in a geography where nearly 4 billion people and 70 nationalities live. We know different cultures closely. Indeed, although the language of business life is common, since we all have characteristics coming from our own culture, these do not easily change. For example, I look at American friends, they have always smiling faces. The Japanese are not like that. They are quieter. We Turks, on the other hand, seem to be sullen, especially in the mornings. Anyway, when communicating in different languages, I take that discretionary attitude. Even when I speak English, I communicate much more directly and use American English. When I was young, I used to translate for my father. I remember a doctor in Zurich, when he was speaking German to us, when he called his wife, he spoke French and told us that French was a more suitable language for women, who knows.
Returning to the Communication Book, it covers a lot of interesting topics, I strongly suggest reading it. Some points from the stories in the book are taken below for you:
The phrase “In the twentieth century ‘I think, therefore I exist” no longer applies, but rather ‘Others are thinking of me, therefore I exist” (Peter Sloterdijk).
After I die, I want my tombstone to say “Free Wi-Fi” so people will visit more often.’
‘When all think alike, no one is thinking.’ (Walter Lipmann)
‘The most romantic gift is to listen to others’ anxieties for an hour without judgment or ‘solutions’ as an analyst might.’ (Alain de Botton)
We have two ears and one mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak (Epictetus)
‘If you, for example, want someone to confess something, start by talking open heartedly about your own mistakes.
Fear and hope look alike ultimately.’ (Richard Ford)
We become quieter if we believe that we are in the minority.
If you can’t change your mind, then you’re not using it enough.
When it comes to apologies, keep in mind there are only two ways: you can apologize unwillingly or sincerely. Choose the latter.
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. (Mark Twain)
If it’s important, keep it short.
It takes a hammer to break a precious vase, just a quick action. But one word is enough to break a person’s heart. (Eugen Drewermann)
The essence of traditional communication: we all like to be right. The essence of nonviolent communication: we are better off if we resolve a dispute then if we win it or in the worlds of Marshall Rosenberg: Would you rather be right or happy?’
Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you’re thinking about it. (Daniel Kahneman)
As a leader, get used to the idea that you are primarily responsible for the supply of energy. In other words: motivate, advice, stabilize provide momentum – and letting others shine.
As for the person giving the feedback: most people are prone to being critical, as it gives them a feeling of superiority. They feel like they need to crush bad or weird ideas.
Towards the end of the book, self-talk, inner dialogue, is also mentioned. Self-talk has two functions; the first is concentration, the second is motivation. Like every person, I think aloud and talk to myself. I always do this before my interviews and meetings. In other words, I have the person I imagine in front of me speak in various ways and I try to answer him. I recommend this to everyone. You will have studied various scenarios and prepared for the worst. From time to time I ask myself the question “why do I live and work”; my answer is “to be good and do good“. I want to benefit everyone, even people I don’t know. Even if I cannot prevent evil, I live by trying to spread the good and I strive for this. And thank goodness my work and my mercy allow it.
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(*) Krogerus, M. Ve Tschäppeler R., (2018) The Communication Book, Portfolio Penguin.