Living the Mission

August 17, 2017
Whitney VanKlaveren

Featured in Muncie Power Quarterly, Issue 3, 2017

Experts often say that 55 percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is tone of voice and 7 percent is the words you use to communicate. This in itself tells most of us that we are not always cognizant of how real communication takes place. Even more daunting is something I have learned over the course of my career, which is that most of what we communicate to people actually comes from how we live our lives.

Communication is something we do every day, but it is so much more than verbal or physical expressions. A relationship has to develop and it relies on our willingness to put time and effort into another person, to care about them and have a desire to communicate with them in a way that fosters personal growth. This lends credence to the old truth that people don’t really care about what you know until they know how much you care.

I remember a time in the 1990s when I was working as the manager of a large manufacturing plant. Change was needed – and coming fast. As the plant manager, it was up to me to communicate this to our employees in a way that would help them understand what these changes would ultimately mean for them.

I arranged for a series of meetings with all of our employees. Thinking I would be creative, I decided to use the rate of change that was taking place with computers as a mirror of the rate of change to come within our workplace. Instead of making that correlation, our employees interpreted that they needed to learn more about computers – and fast.

I had missed the mark. My words were clear, but everything else about my communication led them to interpret differently than what I had intended. The people didn’t know me yet and they hadn’t seen me vulnerable. They didn’t know that I genuinely cared for them and wanted to help them on their journey. Regardless of my intent, I left them with a cold directive to get “up to speed” on computers or get ready for tough times. Throughout my career I’ve learned many lessons in communication – discovering through my failures that communication is not easy; it takes hard work.

In our lives, we often have many things vying for our attention and demanding our time, which can make it challenging when it comes to investing in people the right way. To achieve real communication, it requires listening, patience and tolerance. But, most of all, people have to hear you through your actions.

Beyond body language, tone of voice or even the words we use – the consistency of our actions speaks volumes to those around us. After 30 years in leadership positions, I am still learning that my communication takes place most often without saying a word.

Ray Chambers - Chairman, CEO & President

Ray Chambers joined Muncie Power Products as Vice President of the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Division in 2004. He became President of the company in 2009, and was named to his current position in January 2012. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and a master’s degree from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. He is a thought leader and visionary within the industry.