This week’s focus is on communication – namely, the art of being effective in how we express and receive information we hear. Doing so would lead to less conflict, having better interpersonal connections, and getting more done.
The workplace can be a hotbed for problems in this area. When goals are given but vague; when thoughts and ideas are dismissed; or when a look can lead to feeling unaccepted or ignored. Communication can affect all of these and more. Good leaders are effective communicators but it is a skill all need to learn.
So what is communication? It is the sending and receiving of information. However, just because a message is sent out does not mean it was received in the same way. There is both active and passive listening to be aware of:
- Passive Listening: only half-hearing what is being said; not maintaining eye contact; thinking ahead of what you will say in a response; being in distraction; withdrawing; not saying what you would like (holding back)
- Active Listening: being in the present; maintaining eye contact; allowing the other person to finish their sentence/thoughts; leaving out emotion; reframing to clarify; being assertive
Communication goes back to how we learned and how we were raised; they really don’t teach this as a subject in school so our communication is shaped by our family, friends, and other influences. Thus, we can get into bad patterns that affect us in some way and impact our interactions, which may include:
- avoiding conflict
- when I want my way
- I’m afraid you won’t like me or will leave me
- I don’t know how
- I want to feel more powerful
- I don’t think you’ll understand
- I don’t care
The subject of communication is lengthy and indepth but there are basics to be covered. We do have to look at not just words that are being conveyed, as words carry emotion which can deeply skew the words said. Again, interpretation comes into play; words can be said but each person will understand them differently due to how we were raised and how we experienced them, in addition to our values and beliefs that have shaped our world. Essentially, perceptions and expectations get in the way.
Being an effective communicator takes practice and skill:
- being present with those we interact with – making it about them and not you so allowing them the time to get their thoughts and words out
- in that time, it’s about sitting back to understand what was conveyed to ensure if you heard it correctly and clarifying if not
- taking emotion out of the conversation as this can lead to listening being blocked and conflict of some kind occurring; just because words were said does not mean you have to respond right away so letting the other person know you need some time is perfectly fine
- ensuring the words you say are conveyed so the other person understands i.e. being on the same page (i.e. clarifying) and then showing how the other person would benefit from what you are asking to get their buy-in and support
More effective communication and interactions would result if we all did our part in checking ourselves in the communication department and being open to those we interact we and, not just recognizing, but accepting, the individual differences we all have. It’s about being committed to the process of being an effective and involved communicator, one that others want to be around.
“Communication: the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” (Paul J. Meyer)
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