Communicating So That Others will Hear
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.” A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
We all know that there is more than “fluff” that is preventing your message from being heard. Pooh bear’s sweet innocence puts a lighthearted spin on a very real concern. Effective communication continues to be a problem in every area of human life. What, when, how, why and where something is said will affect what, when, how and why the same is heard or not.
Professionals and workers continue to look for ways to get their point across as evidenced by the massive amount of information available on the internet. Do a search with the terms effective communication. You will find a ton of websites, articles, coaches, and consultants promote effective communication techniques. What makes communication so difficult?
Hearing and understanding are totally different outcomes. Focusing on getting someone to hear does not guarantee that he will understand. Once you gain understanding, it does not guarantee that action that is in your favor will take place. I am sure that you know this from experience. Communicating should be fairly simple. It was when we were babies.
A baby cries and the need is addressed. The baby may need a clean diaper, formula, or nurture. Here is the deal, those are a baby’s basic needs. Also, the parents begin to recognize what the baby needs based on their experiences addressing those needs.
We are certainly not babies, but we often expect our communication to garner the same or similar results that it did when we were babies. We each want to be clothed, fed or nurtured, right now. Perhaps this is because humans are basically self-centered and believe that what we say and or do is more important than what anyone else says or does.
Communication is an exchange that should be savored and enjoyed. We have grown accustomed to sharing information in pictures, abbreviated code and 40 characters or less. This limits our ability to fully absorb meaning and intent. So what can be done to go beyond the superficial? Here are several key areas to consider.
Listen: Expressive language is not just words. It encompasses meaning and emotion. The speaker has feelings about what is being said. Having clarity regarding these feelings will help to provide context. Reflecting back what was heard is a component of active listening. It also allows the speaker an opportunity to clarify or confirm your understanding of the content. Focus on what is being said while reserving or avoiding judgment. It is easy to miss important information or clues if you are critiquing the message or delivery. You will have an opportunity to speak, so relax and be patient.
Speaking: Focus and stay on topic. Say what you need to say in a concise manner, using few words. Wordiness can be distracting. You could lose your listener to lack of interest or other more pressing matters. Bullet points with short explanations are quite effective. Make notes and review them before expressing your concerns. This will keep you on track and save you time. It will also help you to articulate your message fluently.
Responding: Every response should be respectful regardless of how you feel about the person or the topic. Differences of opinion are best worked through when each person attempts to understand the other’s point of view. Sincerity and honesty are valued characteristics. Demonstrate these traits in your response. Follow through with your commitments and give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
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