Rewind for winning communications: A gap analysis!

Monday, 3 September 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Fill the ‘gap’ before you fall into it. Once you are in, it might be too late

Not so long ago, Jan Carlson was speaking of the moment of truth to accentuate that moment of contact/experience of a customer with a product or service. Recently, when I was on holiday in Australia, I was listening to a speaker explain about the small gaps in the railway station platforms (gap between the train and the platform) and the messages to this effect warning to mind the gap. The speaker was drawing parallels of this to the gap between our personal lives, passion or career. Rolling through my thoughts I realised that our lives are pretty much shaped by the responses that occur in our minds during that split second – just before we react.

The more we think, the more it becomes clearer. The winners are those who can make that split-second decision to their advantage by being right most of the time. 

I call these ‘filling-the-gaps’. 

The traditional communication process that we’ve learnt and heard is about a sender of a message, which is then decoded by the receiver. This is true in any situation notwithstanding the content. What lies in between this process at both ends is the ultimate truth of the moment. The point emphasised here is, that irrespective of the situation, location, person, subject or any other variable, there is a gap between every message. This is true at both situations – at the point of origin and point of receiving. The focal point is the time lag of this gap.

To rephrase, a thought comes to the mind to express this scenario (this can be action, verbal, both or any form of expression) and in most instances, the contents of the response is decided in a split second. Between this split second (which we term as the ultimate moment) and the expression or action lays our point – ‘The Gap’. 

Similarly, a person receiving the message, witnessing an act, observing anything around, forms an opinion based on what he/she makes out of the five senses. Just before this is decoded, lies a gap. The gap of assimilation based on our own internal thought process.

This is the gap that we are referring to. ‘The gap created in interpreting a message’ due to our personal bias, culture, experience, beaten track record, physical situation and mindset.

Stephen Covey, in his famous 90:10 theory explained the consequences of this gap through what he termed as the reaction to any situation by which one, on his/her own volition, creates the future world around him/her. Most of the time, our thoughts are on how we can improve this response and create a better world around us. Bottom line; there is a sweet spot to decide during that ‘ultimate moment’ to respond better, so that the gap is better managed. 

Though we don’t realise it, in recent times, this gap has widened. The reasons could be many; but one is the speed in which we need to move through our lives, be it in communication or any kind of action. The speed/pace of communication has increased, sometimes just giving us nano-seconds to react or respond.

Take the case of a mobile call. Years back to make or receive a call, it took several minutes (or even hours when we only had trunk calls). By then, our mind has started wondering and pondering into the so-called gap and has analysed and verified many-a-times before responding. The speed was manageable.

How many times have you regretted that you could have done better after having said something or acted in a particular way? Go back and think whether speed of communication/information was an issue or not? 

The information overload is yet another. With increased need to respond faster, the multiple sources of information create further barriers. The ability to verify all such information amidst personal biases and beaten track record can warp that split-second thinking. Hence you respond with warped information at times. As actor Denzel Washington famously stated that ‘One does not even have to be correct any more to lead an opinion but simply got to be the first’. 

The key is to understand that gaps are created within our responses in every situation. This could be due to many factors. However past experiences, cultural background, personal bias, physical situation and overall mindset can have an overwhelming effect.

As we see it, one can broadly respond to this gap in two ways. One, is a quick-fire gap analysis conducted as we move though the information processing and responding process. It’s about thinking rationally and acting wisely in that split second. Tough ask, but then, there are many who do this effectively while some others might need more time. 

If so, then comes the second option where the gap analysis is conducted after the event. Did I say after? Yes….

Great personalities, have the habit of being able to process the gap in split seconds and translate the response to be appropriate and positive. It does not happen by accident but by regular and focused attention. If we are not that smart or quick in thinking, but strive to be right most of the time, then the next best option is to cultivate the habit of GAP analysis at the end of the event or day and to find ways and means to process the information/thoughts better next time. In essence, to create an experiential learning cycle through the gap. 

Can we train to do better?

To my simple mind, a quick rewind, reminiscing the day’s activities and analysing what could have been done better does the trick. Trust me, with practice, this method improves your ability to judge the situation, analyse the GAP and respond positively. The core is not that you must respond to every situation all the time, but when you do – it’s about getting it right.

Can the brain be trained? 

Yes, it can. That’s neuroplasticity. The ability of the human brain to change, in response to different experiences and stimulations. It’s like a muscle, you can flex. As per scientific study, through practice one can stretch it enough to bring about the best in whatever activity you are pursuing. If you do practice rewinding daily on key responses for the day, take stock of what you did which according to you was not the best and consciously program the alternative response that would have been ideal, over a period of time, you will create your own code of responses that would be positive and superior based on the new judgments programmed. In this case, programming only needs deep thoughts and acceptance by your subconscious mind. Merely repeating the ideal response several times and firmly embedding it in your mind should do. All what you need is time and the mindset to practice.

Gaps in communication and responses create the world around us. It can also make or break that ultimate moment you’ve been waiting for. Can we get it right most of the time? The answer is yes.

My simple way of responding to the gaps in life has been a steady learning curve through personal experiences. 

Here’s what those who think they need to learn to respond better throughout their lives should do: 

  • Make it a daily habit to rewind your main activities and analyse how you have responded to the gaps. If there was a gap that you could have responded better, learn and store them in your thoughts.
  • Learn that every situation might not demand an immediate response. There are those that you could buy more time if you are not sure of the response. Remember, you may have not properly identified the gap, but after responding, you can’t fill the gap. It’s before falling that you can fill the gap. If you fall into the gap then one needs to come out of the gap first. In this instance, the situation could become more complicated.
  • That daily, 10-minute-deep thought to picture what you would like to be or what you would like to accomplish. Well, you can meditate. That is probably better. But if that’s not in you, simply think about positives. That helps to unwind, fill your thoughts with positive energy and above all focus your thoughts. Over a period, your mind can be trained to be focused and respond to activities and thoughts better.

Remember! In everything that we do in our lives, there is a gap. The depth of the cavity will depend on the magnitude of issue, our understanding of it and the response.

Every gap need not be filled. If at all it needs to be filled, it may need not be done immediately or fully. We need to be mindful and assess these gap response requirements accordingly. However, there may be some gaps that needs to be filled as we move literally within nanoseconds and respond. It is important that the mind is trained to do that. 

The way we respond to these gaps will determine whether it’s going to become a crater or small enough of a gap to simply pass through.

Gaps are there to stay…. It’s our responses that need to be mastered. 

(The writer is a thought leader and regular contributor to this page. He is currently the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Ambeon Capital PLC and Ambeon Holdings PLC with over 35 years of corporate experience. He can be reached on [email protected]).


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