When was the last time you had a misunderstanding or a disagreement with someone, either personally or professionally? How much did that misunderstanding or miscommunication cost you in lost time, effort, energy, rework, duplication or a soured relationship?Would you like to discover how you can stop such costly communication and, instead, easily engage others in what you say and capture their attention?
Here are seven ways that you can improve your personal and professional communication with others:
1. Build instant rapport – Instantly create a feeling of trust and familiarity with anyone you meet, within seconds of meeting them. A simple way to do this is to observe, then to subtly match or copy their posture ie. how they sit or stand. This will allow the rest of your communication to be that much more effective. Remember that people who are like each other, like each other!
2. Really listen – When we are caught up with all the thoughts inside our head we can miss out on really hearing what others say to us. This can lead to misunderstandings in our communication. Instead, shift the focus from your internal dialogue (that little voice inside your head) and really listen, hear and focus your attention on what the other person is saying.
3. Respect the other person’s model of the world - Each one of us has different experiences, memories, values and beliefs and these determine how we respond and react to situations and the world around us. Respecting each others’ model of the world enables us to see the other person’s point of view and helps to avoid disagreements and miscommunication.
4. Use appropriate words – Tailor the language you use to the other person. There are four major communication styles: visual (pictures), auditory (sounds), kinesthetic (feelings) and auditory digital (self talk), and each style uses specific words. Most people use a combination of communication styles and some have a strong preference for one or two styles. By identifying and utilising their preferred communication style with them, they will clearly see, easily get in touch with and understand what you are saying.
5. Chunk your information appropriately– Some people need a lot of detail before they can proceed with a task or make a decision, while others simply need to be told the big picture. Give too much information to a big picture person and their eyes may glaze over and their thoughts may drift off to other things. Leave out information for a detail person and they may not be interested in doing a task, not know how to do it or may even ask many questions in order to get the detail they need.
6. Influence others through your questions - You can direct a conversation by asking appropriate questions. Formulating questions such as “How specifically?” will assist in obtaining clarity and detail on an issue. In contrast, using artfully vague language such as “You may have noticed...” allows others to come up with their own solutions and empowers them to resolve issues in their own way.
7. Be flexible – I believe that the meaning of communication is the response you get. So if your communication is not being received the way you intend it, be flexible and grasp the above tools so your message can clearly get through each time. Now, imagine yourself as a master communicator!