How To Master Communication And Avoid Misunderstandings
“Most Of The Successful People I’ve Known Are The Ones Who Do More Listening Than Talking.” – Bernard Baruch
Communication and miscommunication, understanding and misunderstanding, how hard it seems to us to say what we want to say and be understood by others who want to do the exact same thing. We all want to feel important, feel heard and understood. We all feel certain that what we have to say is important and should be said first. We are naturally selfish, emotional and irrational beings.
How can we connect with and communicate in a healthy and effective way? How can we avoid being misunderstood? The Book entitled Point and Grunt with forward by Claude Hamilton breaks down the communication dilemma into bite-size pieces to help us improve in this crucial area of being human. Here are 4 main points (with subpoints) covered in the book.
Master The Big 5
There are 5 big fixes or important unavoidable areas that must be adhered to no matter what context of communication you are dealing with. These are not earth-shaking ideas and most of us are familiar with their importance. However, in the context of improving communication, they are important to review.
Being professional in our communication implies that we raise others to a level of professionalism. It gives others the sense that you are trustworthy, that you are dependable. A professional approach also lets people know that you adhere to high standards and are consistent. In other words, you do not have others feeling that you are somehow unpredictable.
Whether we are speaking or writing clarity is important. We need to say what needs to be said, what the other person needs to know rather than what we think they would like to know. Sometimes we get tripped up in unimportant and confusing details and lose focus on what is essential. The natural results are miscommunication and misunderstandings. If necessary repeat and confirm that your message has been understood.
There is a saying that we need to say what we mean and mean what we say. This is integrity. Being honest is also about being authentic no matter who we are talking to. In every situation, we are consistent and genuine. Again, it is all about trust- can people take you at your word and is your track record consistent?
Communicate often and with everyone, you come into contact with. Communication builds and strengthens relationships and people remember those who take the time to have a conversation with them. When we communicate often, whether, in personal or professional relationships, people see and know that we care and that we care about what we share.
Communicate Your Intentions
Our message is so much more than words. Whenever we speak, our tone, our body language, gestures, and other elements. all combine to give a message which may or may not convey what we intended to say. What is in the inside- in our heart- will always come out through one of these paths. Our tone of voice may convey hurt even if our words do not. So, we need to make sure that our intentions are right before speaking.
- Heartful intentions
“Good Communication Is As Stimulating As Black Coffee, And Just As Hard To Sleep After.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The Small Important Details
The practice of remembering names is important but often underestimated. In fact, in business, it can be a difference maker. We all have told ourselves that we are no good at remembering names and therefore, we don’t even try. But making the effort to remember people’s names is professional and it conveys the idea that a person is important to us. It is a very small detail that can have a huge impact.
Watch Out for the Big Slip-ups (oops!)
Awkward! Try not to say those incredibly dumb “foot-in-mouth” things that make you feel like a skunk at a garden party. You know the kind – asking a lady when her baby is due when she isn’t even pregnant. That is just awkward. Try not to do this, but if you do apologize or smooth it over with as much grace as you can.
Use Communication Softeners
Sometimes we have to confront and communicate a message that is uncomfortable. But, as much as possible, we want to avoid making the other person feel uncomfortable especially before we have even said what we need to say. We can use softeners to lessen the impact, that makes our message less direct. We can add words such as maybe, perhaps, probably – or any expression that somehow makes our message less polarizing and more collaborative.
- Remember names
- Avoid the slip-ups
- Soften the speech
“I Speak To Everyone In The Same Way, Whether He Is The Garbage Man Or The President Of The University.” – Albert Einstein
Good Listening Practices
Practice Active Listening
Active listening means being fully engaged in and connecting with the other person. It means seeking to understand with genuine intention. Often the tendency is to listen (out of politeness), but, at the same time, think in our head about what we want to say. So, in doing this, we are not really (or fully) listening, but simply preparing our response. Change and transformation happen when true communication takes place – speaking, active listening, and engaging.
Use Appropriate Eye Contact
Good eye contact is important, but don’t be cheesy or weird about it. The eyes are “the window to the soul” and so making eye contact establishes trust and connection with the other person. It shows that we are engaged with them and interested in them. Eye contact also helps us to gauge how the other person is responding to our message. Keep the eye contact appropriate – as a connection and gauge, but not to intimidate them.
Summarize what we have heard (or repeating in our own words) serves two purposes. First, it helps us to make sure that we have understood what a person has said to us so that we do not misunderstand and second, it shows that we care and respect the other person enough to take the time to make sure we have understood. A lot of times people pretend to be listening. they may have all the appropriate mannerisms, but clarifying through repeating truly shows that we have been listening.
Don’t Interrupt- Just Nod
We know that we shouldn’t interrupt, but we all do it. We want to make our point regardless of whether the other person has finished speaking. Sometimes we may think we are helping by finishing sentences or jumping with a “helpful comment” that may turn into a paragraph. Steven Covey has as one of his principles in conflict resolution: Seek first to understand. We should also apply this to conversations. Rather than blurting out our “2 cents worth”, we should nod and acknowledge the speaker to show that we are genuinely listening.
- Listen actively
- Use appropriate eye contact
- Don’t interrupt
Heal, Don’t Harm
We all make mistakes. We all hurt other people. Sometimes we are wrong. In all cases, it is our job, our responsibility to own up for whatever our part in the hurt or misunderstanding is. Apologies need to be done as soon as possible – Don’t wait for a storm to brew. They also need to be done well. Sometimes a simple “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. An apology given in the wrong spirit can often make a situation worse. so, it is also important to be humble and accept our part in the matter. Above all, it is important to only focus on apologizing, not explaining or justifying. The goal is to establish peace.
Our society thrives on gossip from the coffee machine gossip at the office to the tabloids and just about everywhere else. Gossip is so prevalent that most of the time we are not even aware that we are doing it. What is gossip? Gossip is betraying the trust of someone in their absence, it is speaking negatively about someone else when they are not present. What is devastating about gossip besides that fact that it can destroy a person’s reputation, is that it comes back full circle. It destroys relationships, organizations, businesses and much more. Gossip should never have any place in the conversation.
Don’t Criticize for Sport
What does it mean to criticize for sport? Criticism can be constructive in order to help another person to improve. but when criticism is done for the sake of criticizing, out of habit or even to have a sense of superiority, this is criticizing for sport. There are “haters” or “trolls” in the world who spend their time finding things and people to criticize. They seem to get their energy in finding ways to criticize others. Other times people criticize as a way of “getting back” at someone, In any case, criticism in this spirit has no place in a conversation.
- Don’t Gossip
- Don’t Criticize for Sport
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca