PAR for the course

I’m trying to break down the “journalism equals newspapers” myth in my corner of the world.  I correct people by informing them that I have a communications degree, not simply a journalism degree.

USA Today profiled Rebecca Rusch (fitting name) earlier this week.  She’s an endurance cyclist who has found that her online profiles have vaulted her career a bit.

“…[E]specially with the growth of the Internet and social media, the communication requirements of my job have grown exponentially in the last few years.”

Today I interviewed a pet sitter for a feature story.

“It helps to have good communication skills.  Client communication plays a big part.”

I’m scratching my head here.  Apparently communication skills matter in jobs as diverse as caring for dogs or biking down mountains.

I love being right.  I do.  Okay, I’m done gloating.

And can you hear that?  It’s silence, the sound of excellent communication.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. released a study this past June that offers evidence supporting the act of listening in good communication.

Researchers found that a listener’s brain activity mirrors a speaker’s brain activity with a slight delay.  Furthermore, the best communication occurs when listeners’ brains “exhibit predictive anticipatory responses.”

Essentially, the listener’s brain anticipates highly predictable words. The greater the number of PARs, the greater the comprehension level. Bare bones translation: “successful communication requires the active engagement of the listener.”

Interesting stuff.

Try it at home if you happen to have an fMRI machine lying around.

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