Are you able to get your message across to people, be it verbal or written or do you find that sometimes it is a struggle? Without effective communication, a message can turn into an error or misunderstanding and can be really frustrating. Ultimately, if we don’t commit to continually improving our communication skills, it can even lead to relationship break ups.
In business when budgets, forecasts, reputations and other important goals are at stake, it is imperative that we give attention to some type of ongoing communication training, to avoid sabotaging our own success.
When you are misinterpreted it can be provoking. Communication skills have to be acquired, honed and developed regularly on an on going basis. Oral communication particularly has to be fine tuned, whether you run a business or just want successful personal relationships.
The other day I was speaking to a colleague and all of a sudden he bit my head off. My first gut instinct was to bite back and hard, as it seemed way out of context and aggressive. Luckily for me I have spent a large part of my professional career learning and teaching the value of communicating well. I was able to rely on my training and not my emotions, which made it relatively easy to formulate a response diffusing the heat of the moment. I realized the simple problem was that I was not speaking his language.
For example, imagine going to a foreign country that did not speak any English and only using English to try and communicate. I am sure it doesn’t take long to work out you are not going to get very far in making any connection or understanding. In this situation with my colleague, as he spoke a different language to me, I was able to use some simple techniques to realize and understand his frustration. By adjusting my communication response I was able to speak his language and navigate our discussion to a greater degree of understanding and acceptance.
So I guess the next logical question could be; “That’s great David, but how do you do that?”
Well here is a simple strategy you can use next time you’re finding it difficult to communicate with someone…
Most communication can be grouped into 3 language types:
- Assertive or non-assertive
- Task or People Focused
- Detail or Bottom Line
These 3 simple distinctions are not absolute but do make it easier to understand what someone’s communication language preferences are. For example, it is easy to tell whether someone is task or people focused by how they frame the conversation. If they are task focused they generally don’t like to spend too much time building rapport.
The same goes if someone is assertive, they talk a lot as opposed to being more introverted or non-assertive. If they are detailed they want to get into the ins and outs of everything and if they are bottom line, they just want you to get straight to the point.
Following are some simple strategies you can use to help you speak the language of the person you are communicating to;
Assertive: Facilitate by asking questions to direct and steer the conversation.
Non-Assertive: Fish and ask more probing questions to gain more information.
Task: Keep the rapport building to a minimum and talk more about process and facts in your responses.
People: Allow for their emotional response more in the conversation and ensure that you use more empathy in the response.
Detail: Make sure you are logical and detailed in your response.
Bottom Line: Don’t muck around or waffle, just get to the point.
So there you have it, some very simple strategies to help you the next time you are struggling to communicate with someone. Remember that committing to ongoing communication training and speaking the language of the other party are two important parts of relational success. This essentially means that you must listen to their native tongue before you respond.
P.S. I would love to hear your comments and experiences. Start a conversation by adding your comments!
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