Updated: Nov 3, 2022
Not everyone finds communicating easy.
Some people may find it easy, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are effective communicators.
Whether you find it easy or not, how do you know if you are any good at it?
There are several things to consider when communicating:
What you wanted to say
What you ‘actually’ said
What the person heard
What the person understood
What the person listened to
What the person remembers
So many of these factors you don’t have control over. You can control the first two, and you can go back and correct the second one if you need to. The others are not in your control and therefore are not your responsibility.
You are however responsible for what you say and how you say it. The following will all have an impact on the delivery of your message, and how it is received.
How you communicate will have an impact on how the 'message' is received and therefore the response. It is our responsibility to be mindful of this however, ultimately, you are not responsible for how the other person feels on receiving this message, how they interpret and perceive it, and how they choose to respond.
It is important to recognise this, as whilst you cannot control how your communications are received, you can influence this, and the key to being an effective communicator is to check the level of understanding of what you have said.
It is important to have a good level of self-awareness of how you are coming across when you communicate, and how people perceive you.
Is there a disconnect that you need to work on?
Communication is one of our topics on 'RISE'. We discuss communication styles, especially in the context of conveying your message in more challenging, or emotionally charged conversations.
Not communicating what you feel or what you want can be very frustrating and at times stressful.
The ability to have this type of conversation requires good, effective, communication skills, it needs to be a balanced two-way conversation as the information has to be given and received, as it is intended, by both parties.
These skills can be practised, they are learned skills. If you find it a challenge, keep working on it, and it will improve.
10 Things to Consider When Communicating:
(In no particular order!)
Does your body language match what you are saying?
Be aware of the message your body is sending. Is it matching the words that come out of your mouth? What is the body language needed to help convey what you are trying to communicate?
Is the emotion impacting the message?
In more emotive conversations the tone, pace and inflection can be influenced by the emotions that we feel. Focus on reducing/removing the emotion from the conversation so that the conversation is not impacted in a negative way. Take a moment before beginning the conversation to focus on what you want to say, take a deep breath (or more if needed) to help settle how you feel before you begin.
Are you mindreading?
Have you already gone through the conversation in your head and decided what the other person is going to say?
Is this shaping what you are saying or how you are saying it?
Are you giving the other person a chance to respond without jumping in to try and finish their sentence for them?
Are you avoiding having the conversation because you have already made an assumption on what they are going to say and how they are going to respond?
Mindreading can often influence the outcome of a conversation. Try to enter into the conversation with an open mind and curiosity as to how the conversation may play out.
Are you listening to understand or listening to respond?
In a similar way to how we try and 'work out' what the other person is saying, how often are we failing to pay attention to what is being said to us because we are so focused on what our response is going to be?
If you find yourself trying to jump in at the end of the sentence, then practice taking a moment to tune back into what they are saying and switch on your active listening. (verbal responses, head nods, eye contact).
Listening for or listening to?
Are you listening out for something? – (often a combination of the last two points) or are you listening with an open mind and actively listening to what they are saying, taking note of their tone, pace, inflection and body language?
Are you allowing yourself to observe the full conversation or are you more focused on what you are expecting them to say?
Is the voice inside your head louder than the voice of the person you are listening to?
It is not uncommon for an internal conversation to run inside our heads whilst we listen to someone speak. It is how we assemble a response. What we need to be careful of is that the voice in our head doesn’t take over and we stop listening and lose track of what the other person has said.
Turn down the volume on your inner conversation and tune back into the person you are listening to!
You also don’t want the internal conversation to leak out either!
... Yes, you really did say that out loud!
Conversing to win or conversing to engage?
How are you entering the conversation? Are you entering the conversation to prove your point and argue your side of things until the person either agrees with you or walks away? Listening to understand and speaking with clarity to help the person understand you, will help the conversation rather than create a conversation that is confusing or conflicting.
Are you present? Is the conversation a full circle of energy with both parties fully connected?
Are you in the conversation or is your mind elsewhere?
This is easily done and an easy habit to pick up. Nonverbal cues can help you stay engaged. Put your phone down, turn off the television, remove anything that may distract you and stay connected.
Thinking about what you need from the shops can wait a while!
Can you see it from their point of view?
If you stepped back and observed the conversation as an independent thrid party how does it appear?
Are you able to look at it from their point of view?
If you step back and look at it from a different perspective does this help remove your own emotions and preconceived ideas?
Does it help you to understand their intention and see things from their perspective?
How are you creating the other person as you listen to them?
What is your opinion of the person you are communicating with? Is it your own opinion from previous interactions or is it the opinions of others given to you?
We can enter into any communication with pre-conceived ideas and then look to delete, distort, and generalise what we are seeing and hearing, to confirm what we ‘already knew to be true!’
There are familiar sayings ‘love is blind’ or ‘once I’ve decided I don’t like them everything they do annoys me’ aka 'The ick'
This is what happens when we see what we look for, rather than see the full picture in front of us.
What could you do differently to help improve the way you communicate?
Which one of these 10 points could help you be a more effective communicator?
Prefer this in video form? Why not check out this short video with hints, tips and advice on how to improve your communication and negotiation skills?
If you need coaching support with your communication skills then why not book a clarity call and we can talk it through?
What could you achieve with coaching support?
First published July 2018
Revised July 2022