March 16, 2016
“Communication” is defined as “the imparting or exchanging of information or news.” However, we often forget the purpose of communicating is to be understood. If the person imparting wisdom and the person listening both focus on understanding, would we be more effective communicators?
Everyone knows effective communication is critical to effective leadership and success, so why is it so hard for us?
The most important aspect of communication is listening. Have you ever considered why we have two ears and one mouth? Robert Baden-Powell once said, “If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.”
Don’t listen with the intent to respond.
Sometimes, we will have stories that come to mind, things that make us relatable or that we want to share, but most times, the stories or statements are irrelevant to what the other person is saying. Be present in the conversation, and give the speaker your complete focus. Seek to understand exactly what they are trying to say. As humans, we are mostly self-centered, but in conversations, it’s not about us.
Don’t finish their sentences.
Don’t interrupt or compare your experience to theirs. One, it is disrespectful. Two, you might be wrong. Be alert, but instead of filling in the blanks with observations, ask open questions to gain an even better, deeper understanding. Everyone is different.
Every day, we pass thousands of messages, online, on the road, everywhere we go. We try to process all those messages, but most are lost in translation, especially when we are multi-tasking. If others feel you’re not listening, they will most likely repeat back what they’ve already said. Be open minded and let others know you understand.
I guarantee the person you are in a conversation with knows something you don’t. Find out what that is. Everyone is important and has something worth saying. Not everything you think of should be shared. If you don’t have something nice to say, keep it to yourself. Silence is acceptable because it gives both parties an opportunity to think and process. If you are speaking, don’t do it just to hear yourself talk. Make sure you a clear and direct, understood.