A while back, I was asking a friend for guidance and she said something a not being a mind reader and therefore I needed to speak my mind. We laughed, stayed on topic and I communicated clearer so that she was able to understand me. I started thinking about this and noticed that when I don’t know what to do or have a difficult problem to solve, I get quiet and think. This generally takes time……….and while I am processing away, what message are others around me receiving? Or in the instance of when we are tying to communicate something, we assume that people are getting the message that we intended.
I brought this up at our cohort meetings and we have discussed this in detail. We all agreed that for clear communication to happen, you need the following address the following areas:
Someone must talk
Despite the many technology aids that we have, face-to-face verbal communication still remains the most effective method of communication and therefore someone needs to talk.
The reason behind the face-to-face communication and not TXT’ing, email, telephone is that these communication mechanism are all single mechanisms. Face-to-face is the only mechanism that provides us with the ability to get at least three communication mechanisms. The key ones are verbal, non verbal such as eye contact, expressions and gestures, and environmental situation (noisy room).
However, if it is not possible for face-to-face dialogue, then it is far better to use a single faceted communication mechanism such as TXT’ing, phone, and / or email.
Someone must listen
Not listening is biggest challenge with communication because we are so focused on getting our message across that we miss what the other person is trying to communicate to us. If you catch yourself formulating your response to what the person is saying, then you are not listening to them. Make sure that you understand what they are attempting to communicate, so ask clarifying questions. Depending on culture, paraphrasing what you understood them to say back to them.
The most important element of listening is to shut up!
Is the person ready to receive the message that you are attempting to communicate? This is a big one that is often overlooked. If you are not sure, just ask them. If you upset someone and even if you are ready and willing to apologize, are they ready for the message?
Is doing nothing the default option?
For those that are disagreeing with me right now and think that doing nothing is the acceptable default option. (Pacific Northwest and the Passive Aggressive Communication style) I would ask you to think about the following:
- What message is being received when you do not communicate one? Are there others that are communicating on your behalf? If so, are they communicating your message or theirs? In my experience, they will communicate a message that is beneficial to them and not to you. Only you can communicate the nuances of your message.
- If you do not know what you want to communicate, it is OK to acknowledge that and communicate that. Acknowledging and communicating your perspective will form the basis on which you communicate on.