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Are You Communicating Effectively as You Think You Are?

Are You Communicating As Well as You Intend?

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant ~Robert McCloskey

The speaker at a conference I attended not too long ago quoted this. Isn’t it good!? I know, it’s a mouthful, but it drives home the point.

It’s so easy to become accustomed to how we speak, how we talk – how we interact in general, that we likely miss the boat sometimes and not even realize it. We’re human. It happens.

But as leaders, we should take the time to cross check ourselves every once in a while. Our people deserve it. Plus, chances are – we might pick up a pointer or two along the way.

There’s lots of tips out there on how to improve our communication practices, so I thought I turn the table a bit and suggest a few pointers on what to avoid, or at least some considerations….

  • Are you saying what you really mean or sidestepping the situation to avoid a confrontation? Or to be ‘nice’?
  • Did you remember to tell the people who matter the most to you, how much they mean?
  • Avoid ignoring your gut instincts during important conversations. Our intuition is part of our physiology. We’ve been given the gift for a reason
  • Remember the emotional wake we have the power to leave on others. What may seem like a trivial comment to us might blow someone over (especially if that someone looks up to us)
  • Remember that communication is a two-way street. Did you walk away feeling like it was a great conversation because you did most of the talking? Chances are – the other person wasn’t as impressed. I’m not saying that you aren’t a really interesting individual, I just mean that in common conversations, people want to talk about themselves
  • Are you aware of your tone and inclination? It might be coming across differently than what you intend
  • Is judgment reserved? (even judging the poor weather using a negative connotation can come across a lot worse than it really warrants)

Have you ever decided not to pursue a certain working relationship simply because of how well you liked the individual?

The Easiest Way

The single best way to walk away from such a conversation is to let the other person do most of the talking. Studies show the easiest way to walk away from a conversation leaving the other individual very pleased with you is to:

1) let her do most of the talking and

2) frame the conversation around her interests

Another way to look at this is to reflect on a recent conversation. Did he ask you questions about your interests? Did she make you feel good about you – as a human being? Was their positivity flowing… but in a manner that was pleasantly natural?

We can take a not-so-positive situation and completely turn it around based on our communication practices. Have you ever walked away from a conversation thinking it was the greatest one you’ve had in a long time? Chances are the party you were chatting with knew the art of effective communication.

The situation can also be flipped. Really common communication blunders can be avoided. Sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all if we’re not sure how to politely convey a particular message. This is especially true when we’re chatting with a customer or a potential client. If we’re unsure about cultural differences, sometimes doing a bit of homework is in order. For instance, there is a local restaurant in town that my daughter and I love – but no longer go in to eat. We quickly became repeat customers when we first moved here and all of the waitresses and waiters knew us.

Before long, they would comment on how much we eat (yes, we’re big eaters. It’s no secret, but how many women do you know who like to hear comments about how much they can scarf down?) Guess what? We no longer go in to eat. We just call in an order and go pick it up.

PS try asking someone you trust to give you the truth. See if he will offer any constructive feedback. If you are one of those great communicators, we’d sure like to hear some tips 🙂