How Can You Create Change Through Communication?
“There are two kinds of secrets. Those we keep from others…And those we hide from ourselves.” – Awwpoo
Eighty percent of the people who lose their jobs do so due to failures in communication rather than for lack of skills to perform their work. While there are some differences between how we communicate at work and how we communicate at home or in social situations, the fundamentals are the same.
Three Main Elements of Communication:
Communicating With Words
Communicating with words means listening for content and speaking the words you mean.
The same words may mean different things to different people at various times, in different circumstances. For example, take the word “star”. What are all the images that word brings to mind?
When we communicate with words, it is important to say what we mean clearly, in a way that others can understand. This requires that you be aware of the other person’s perspective. In order to do this you need to listen with the goal of understanding the other person.
Have you ever used a word that gave a different meaning than you intended? The following story illustrates how not listening from the other person’s perspective can lead to a serious misunderstanding.
When I was a young boy, I liked to use a different word – a word other than the correct one – to describe something bad. We had a team of workhorses we named Star because she had a star on her face. The other we named Snip because she would take a bite at you when you would put the bridle on her. I did not attach any particular meaning to the words so I would substitute Snip for Star.
My younger cousin, who was about three years old, was performing a little dance for the family. My aunt, her mother, said that she was a little star. I quickly retorted, “She is a little snip.” Obviously, I did not get the response I was expecting. Using the wrong word can get a response different than we expect. This however is not the end of the horse story.
We had a set of riding horses named Lady and Babe. One day my sisters and I were at a parade. A group of women stopped in front of us, blocking our view. My older sister told me to ask “the ladies” to please move so we could see lipitor weight loss. I said, “Hey babe, would you please move so we can see?” At the time, I did not know the full meaning of the word I was using. Perhaps being a young child, I could be excused, but as adults, we need to have some sensitivity to how the other person perceives the words we are using. When in doubt…ask.
The importance of Listening
When you listen to someone, you are validating him or her as a person. You are showing respect for who they are. This opens the way for you to get to know them in a way that they feel comfortable sharing. Listening also helps you to learn about the other person.
When you listen with the intent to understand, you are more able to respond in a way that enables the other person to understand you. A good listener listens for both content and the meaning behind the content. Again, if you are not clear on the meaning, ask rather than assume.
We all think we know how to listen, but do we really hear what others are trying to communicate? You can learn to listen actively for content. Listening is both a principle and a practice that can be learned. When you learn this, you listen in a way that validates others and overcomes the blocks to effective communication.
This is the first in a 2-part series on communication. In our next article we will discuss communicating with feelings and communicating with actions.
This is an excerpt from my book “Embracing Change From the Inside Out”
If you’re ready to make life changes from the inside out contact me, I will help you understand how to make those changes.