Effective communication is an ancient challenge. Relationships of all kinds meet their end over faulty attempts at verbal connection.
Most of us respond to failed communication with blame shifting: If a relationship fails, someone else must have lead to its demise. That’s a natural response and a reasonable attempt at self-preservation. But it just doesn’t serve us well to think like that. The reality is, our business communications are just like any other… faulty.
What can we do to avoid communication pitfalls?
If your communication with others isn’t garnering the desired results, you’ll be doing yourself and your business a favor by starting with an honest self-evaluation. Avoid shifting the blame to a more productive thought process. You can start by seeing if you’ve made one or more of the following communication mistakes:
Are you distracted?
If the other person isn’t interesting or able express their thoughts in a captivating manner, it’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts. Maybe you start making mental lists while they’re talking. Maybe you fidget with the stuff on your desk.
The problem is this; if you appear distracted, your partner in communication will not leave the conversation feeling that they’ve been heard. They’ll probably leave your office feeling they’ve wasted their time talking with you.
Are you secretly angry?
Past misunderstandings with a person can lead to future miscommunications. If you’re harboring resentment, it may spill over to present time situations. Your non-verbal cues can send a powerful message that you’re closed off to even truly good ideas based on passed communication failures or personal vendettas.
You may be justified in your anger. However, forward momentum in your business means embracing new ideas and cooperating with those on your team. While challenging, you are better served by facing your feelings of hostility and choosing to put those feelings aside in an effort to improve the immediate circumstance.
Are you impatient?
When faced with someone who struggles to find the words or who expresses themselves with scattered, disorganized thoughts, it’s easy to get frustrated. Does it show? Do you find yourself inserting the words you think they’re searching for?
For the other person, they may sense your impatience, which leads to pressure to speak more quickly, which only leads to a huge case of nerves and a loss for words. It’s a vicious cycle that YOU can stop simply by choosing to take your time, listen intently and focus with patience.
Do you categorize people?
We all do it… we just don’t tell anyone. And in business, this is especially true because we have high-powered positions in a company right along side those who are starting at the bottom.
If in conversation you tend to tune-in more acutely to those with more power while tuning-out those with little, you may be missing some valuable insights. Respectful listening, regardless of a person’s position, can yield huge rewards. Not only will you learn from many different angles, but you’ll also earn the respect of those you personally interact with.
Often times, miscommunication and misunderstandings happen on our own doorstep. With conscious effort, you can carefully improve your communication and listening skills.