Mind the Gaps
There are gaps everywhere. You can find gaps in forests, mountains, knowledge, traffic, teeth, and even (metaphorically) in our own lives. And you certainly have experienced communication gaps.
Gaps can represent tremendous opportunity or terrifying threat. For early American settlers, a gap discovered in treacherous hills sometimes led to life, an escape from dehydration, starvation, and danger. Then again, a gap in a makeshift shelter or fort might have doomed those same pioneers.
Gaps are a part of life. When it comes to understanding each other, gaps are what hold us back. You need someone to know something. They don’t understand yet. How will you close those communication gaps and accomplish what you need to achieve?
Communication is the answer, of course.
We figure this out the second we arrive in the world screaming for comfort and sustenance. The rest of our days are filled with using communication to overcome gaps. These spaces between us and what we want or need never go away. A message sender knows something, and their intended recipient(s) don’t know the something yet.
Communication is a bridge.
Life is an ongoing series of communication, and communication is a bridge. We stand on one side with all the information we want our audience to know, whether it’s how to do something or who we are or how fabulous our products and services are. We build one bridge after the next in a never-ending series of communication construction projects.
Each brick in our bridge is a symbol. Over thousands of years of history, we have assigned meaning to sounds like letters and words, and we pick through our quarry of knowledge for the best brick in our stash.
Sometimes we can assemble these bridges quickly. On good days, we might even have entire prefabricated structures already stuck together with the mortar of nonverbal brilliance and some rebar shaped by clear concepts.
If you’re lucky, the person or people on the other side of the understanding gap want to hear from and understand you. In such cases, they’ll be on the other side digging through their own batch of symbolic bricks. Every time they set another section in place, you get that much closer to connecting without having to do all the work. You do need a strong foundation, of course, and finding or establishing shared experiences creates a great base to build upon.
On the other hand, you might be trying to close gaps with folks who aren’t even moving towards you. If you’re an entrepreneurial type, they might not even know you exist. Getting folks to approach and begin peering across the gap to you and all your bricks, well, that’s marketing. (It’s important to be properly positioned before you start broadcasting into the open wilderness).
Take Time To Do It Right
For each interaction you get to have with a prospect or partner, remember that bridges aren’t always built overnight. Communicating well and connecting with others are processes that may happen all of a sudden or over a long period of time.
The key is to be aware of the communication gaps between you and your intended audience. The more you work to build communication bridges between you and them, the faster you’ll get. For every weak stone and faulty bridge that crumbles, you are still learning, improving, and refining your ability to connect with others.