We might even go further and suggest that it is a sharing of ideas and thoughts between two people; that an exchange of ideas takes place.

But, we already know that human behavior is not a result of strictly logical and rational thought. Therefore, exchanging facts is only part of the process. The feelings and emotions that develop during the course of conversation strongly influence the behavior of those involved and, ultimately, the outcome of the conversation.

Sometimes the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.

As much as 80 percent of the message you hope to convey is nonverbal. About 7 percent of communication is in the words, with 38 percent in tone of voice, and 55 percent in body language. Your expression is the most important thing you wear. Through it, you are communicating with someone, whether you mean it or not.

Good communication skills are mutual respect skills, and each person should show respect for the other as well as respect for self. You can demonstrate respect by listening fully and affirming that you understand what the person means. You respect yourself when you assert or propose your own legitimate self interest without aggression. To have a complete communication each person must both get and give.

To listen is also to communicate. We listen at 125-250 words per minute but think at 1000-3000 words per minute, so you can understand the difficulty of productive communication. Beyond the physical/mental discrepancy of listening, however, there are two essential factors that affect most conversations, (1) how you feel about the other person’s ideas and (2) what you believe the other person feels about your ideas. Once you understand the role emotions play in communications you will be able to place yourself in the other person’s shoes. That old cliché means you have empathy, a quality that can be cultivated by developing genuine interest in other people. An authentic or active listening ability is one of the few forms of competitive advantage.

(Editor’s Note: Ombud’s Insight is a monthly feature on UofL Today.)