Ten key ways to communicate more effectively
So many miscommunications occur in business and in our lives in general. So how can we communicate more effectively? The answer is not one dimensional, nor a formula that can be followed and applied to every situation.
Here are some key points to help create consistent, successful interactions.
1. Achieving vs Creating
The world is full of high achieving individuals who see the potential for making a lot of money in a few years time if they put in a lot of time and effort now. Internet stocks typify this current trend. Achieving requires constant energy, time and focus – which can be at a cost to your health, relation-ships and long-term happiness. Achieving is mind-driven. Creating is a completely different concept and will change the way you communicate your dreams, visions and outcomes to yourself and to those in your team. Creating comes from the heart, from what you’re naturally drawn to. Creating is energy building rather than energy draining. You may still put in long hours, but you feel fulfiled and content, rather than stressed or wrung out. Get in touch with what’s fulfiling for you from your heart, and notice the difference in your communication.
2. Intention vs Hidden agenda
Being clear and up-front about our intentions and desires will minimise the possibility of going off on a tangent. Hidden agendas can create ambiguity in communication and can be more destructive than constructive.
3. Context vs Content
I heard this distinction a decade ago when Robert Kiyosaki (author of bestselling book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad) was leading a program. Understanding the bigger picture, or why we are being asked to do something in a particular way, gives the content meaning and puts the task at hand in perspective. Context gives the ‘Why’. Content is the ‘What’.
4. Group vs Team
A group of people that come together for a specific reason or are related to each other in some way may not naturally feel a sense of comradeship or purpose. Create a team of people who feel connected to a bigger picture, a sense of ownership of the task at hand, and you will have happier, more motivated individuals. The end result will be synergy, where more is accomplished than any individual member of the team could do on their own.
5. Guidelines vs Procedures
Being clear about this distinction will save you scratching your head wondering why something isn’t being done the way you’ve asked, even if it’s written down. A guideline is loose and akin to advice – you can take it or leave it. A procedure is a must. In order to achieve a consistent result, things need to be done the same way each time. Communicate clearly to people if it’s a guideline or a procedure.
6. Silence vs Active listening
To really hear what’s being said, master the practice of being silent. Allow someone to be heard, then only speak once you’ve grasped what the other person is saying. Active listening requires your full attention, feeding back to the person what you’ve heard them say and listening for when they’re not saying something too. Silence and active listening are key ingredients to all effective communication.
7. Task focused vs Complete work
Women are especially good at seeing all the tasks that need to be done and going about zapping them one after another without ever thinking about the outcome of finishing each task. To do complete work means approaching each task with an understanding of what the end result is and following through to its final outcome. Task focused communication may not get the end result you really want.
8. Previous experience vs Starting afresh
A very common mistake is bringing our negative past experiences to a current situation. If a person has acted a certain way previously we already have an opin-ion of them before they even say a word. We’re unable to really hear what they’re saying because we expect them to react or respond in a certain way. To start afresh requires leaving past negative experiences at the door, setting a clear intention for the current conversation and being completely open to hearing things differently.
9. Agreement vs Understanding
How often have you asked someone if they understand what you’ve just said, and they nod and say yes, then a few minutes later they do exactly the opposite to what you’ve requested? To check for understanding, ask the person to repeat back their interpretation of what the task is, or to explain in their own words the process they’re about to go through. We avoid asking people to repeat back what we’ve just told them because we think it’s childlike or takes up too much time. Avoid this mistake in communication by taking those few extra minutes to make sure the person understands what’s required.
10. Generosity vs Just enough
Generosity means placing more importance on people than their ability to achieve a certain task. Generosity builds connection which builds trust and people who trust each other give more of themselves than ever expected. Be generous by letting people know you are human, that you have dreams and concerns, what you love and what you don’t. Generosity allows everyone to win.