I will be the first to admit that breakdowns occur often and I am always looking for ways to avoid miscommunication. In fact it happened this weekend and it threw me way off course. I have to remember to consistently ask myself - Are people receiving the message I am attempting to get across to them? Is it a text, a phone call, or simply speaking face to face? Is it even being received?
Albeit difficult, one thing I have come to realize is that communication does not begin with being understood,
but with understanding others.
If you feel unsure about how to communicate effectively with anyone, there are many strategies to do so. I have been reading up on this topic recently and a few points have been presented in different books and blogs I have come across.
I know what I can do and it starts here:
Never Assume - One of the biggest causes in communication breakdown is miscommunication resulting from assumption and unclear instruction. For example, you tell someone you will pick them up at 5pm sharp. I show up at 5pm sharp and they became angry because they have been waiting for over an hour at the wrong entrance. Usually when such things happen, it creates tension to the relationship. Using the “5 Ws” approach can help to clarify and avoid a conflict. They are the “Where, What, When, Who & Why”. Don't pretend to be a mind reader.
Avoid Unexplained Silence - There are times when you are angry about something and you don’t feel like talking to somebody. However, people around might not understand you and you need to be alone or you need a specific time to cool down before you engage in a conversation. Tell them you need to be alone for a moment to cool down your emotions. This is often one I struggle with because I am quick to engage and search for a resolution vs letting things cool down. Silence will help avoid a possible escalation is most cases.
Avoid Talking out of Negative Emotions - Avoid talking out of negative emotions like hurt, anger, frustration, sadness, resentment etc. If you do, the negativity of your communication will be felt and may hurt the relationship. Words uttered can not be swallowed back. In such a case ten minutes of refrain is better than ten years of regrets. Think freely and speak wisely. Don't cut people off mid sentence. Don't overpower the conversation because its YOUR way or NO way. This will only spark more negativity.
Avoid Confusing Instruction - Give step by step instruction. Be clear. Be concise. Tell the truth and most importantly, avoid creating excuses. I have been caught in the excuse blender before and it will spill over and cause a mess. Stick to the facts. Be precise.
Avoid Holding Back Your Energy - Have you experienced a situation where you felt bored listening to someone who seems not to have energy and interest when speaking to you? So put out more energy, with your body, your facial expressions, and your hand gestures. Generate enthusiasm in your voice when you speak to others. My significant other does this well. She is not monotone. She is exciting and even though she talks a lot, she keeps me interested. Another area I can definitely learn and grow in. Energy can create positivity. Its very easy to feel this when you are engaged in a conversation with good energy surrounding you.
Stop Neglecting Eye Contact - One of the surest ways to convey that you are not interested in communicating with a person is to avoid having eye contact with that person. Having eye contact shows that you are committed in relaying your message across to others and committed to listen and to be with that person.
Handle Wrong Tones - It is not so much of what you say counts; it is how you say it that creates an impact. Using the wrong tone will not help get the result you want. Tones that are caring, affectionate, soft and trusting will be more pleasing and will likely yield a positive response. Therefore, use the right tone to get the right response. Speak GENTLY when giving emotional support, FIRM and ASSERTIVE when you need to correct behaviors and actions. Tone is everything. You don't need to yell at someone. Remember, when you feel that coming on, see number 3 above!
Keep in mind, many of these points above can relate to all forms of communication. In today's society we more often then not communicate over social media and digital methods such as text and email, and less in person. Do not forget how important it is to relate to one another in person. Remember number 1 above? Yes.......assumption. The biggest culprit of this often stems from a communication breakdown that is driven from digital roots. Pick the phone up and talk to the people around you. Tone and energy can be felt through voice, not through fingertips!
Happy Monday everyone!