Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Not everyone finds communicating easy.
Some people may find it easy but 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, you can go back and correct the second one if you need to, but 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 (tone, pace, inflection, body language). How you say it can have an impact on the response but ultimately you are not responsible for how the other person responds.
It is important to recognise this, as whilst you cannot control it, you will want to check the level of understanding of what you have said.
You will also want to have self-awareness of how you think you are coming across and how people perceive you.
Is there a disconnect that you need to work on?
Communication is one of our topics on 'Thrive'. We discuss communication styles, especially in the context of getting your message across in more challenging conversations. Not saying what you feel or what you want can be very frustrating and at times stressful.
The ability to do this requires good communication skills as it needs to be a balanced two-way conversation as the information has to be given and received by both parties.
These skills can be practiced, they are learnt skills, so if you find it a challenge then keep working at it as it will improve.
Here are 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?
Is the emotion impacting the message?
In more emotive conversations the tone, pace and inflection can be controlled by the emotion. Try to reduce/remove emotion from the conversation so that the conversation is not impacted in a negative way.
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 worked out what they are going to say and how they are going to respond?
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 the person is saying 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 just take a moment to tune back in to 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 points 3 and 4) 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 see the full conversation or are you homed in 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 your inside head voice down 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, talking clearly to help the person understand rather than in a way that causes confusion will help the conversation rather than escalate it into ineffective communication.
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 up and looked down on the conversation how does it appear? Are you able to look at it from their point of view, or even from a third persons point of view? If you step away 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?
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!’ You know the saying ‘love is blind’ or ‘once I’ve decided I don’t like them everything they do annoys me’ This is what happens when we see what we look for rather than see the full picture in front of us.
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 in a clarity call and we can talk it though?
What could you achieve with coaching support?