Like him or not, in my view President Obama is the epitome of a master communicator. Next time you see him on television notice his use of communication strategies including body language, voice inflection, gestures, and the intuitive ability to establish and maintain trust.
Communication is critically important for personal and professional effectiveness. In my experience as an executive coach and counsellor, most relationship issues, especially conflict can almost always be attributed to poor communication.
The following six communication breakdowns include strategies that master communicators use for highly effective communication. See if you can recognize some of them in your work and personal life.
1. Hidden Requests and Expectations.
You want something yet fail to request it. You may be reluctant to ask, fear rejection or feel you are imposing. In fact, making a request is not an admission of weakness and most people are only too happy to help. Take a risk in being vulnerable as this is a great way to build trust and connect with others.
Understand the person receiving your request isn’t a mind reader. Most of us have hidden thoughts and often fail to make them known. Then when people don’t do what you expect then you become disappointed, resentful and angry. Many times I have observed people who expect their partners or colleagues to do things that haven’t been communicated verbally. Translating “shoulds” into clear and precise requests will result in more satisfying relationships.
Strategy One: Make Clear Requests
2. Not Being ‘Tuned In’ to the Listener.
The mood and tone of your speech affects the listener more than words alone. If you’re demanding or come across as weak, people may decline your requests perceiving you as arrogant or needy. Observe the mood produced in the listener of your request; adjust your mood to attune to the other and you are more likely to get the kind of listening you want.
Strategy Two: Be Attuned and Empathize with Others.
3. Weak Promises
Committing without being clear about what you’ve committed to is a recipe for a disaster. For example, lets say your manager asks you to talk to a client. You assume it’s about a sale, however it may be about a complaint. If you’re not sure what the requester wants then clarify the request and you won’t end up looking stupid.
Strategy Three: Listen and Clarify the Facts
4. Not Saying No (Declining requests).
Some of us say yes to every request. We’ve been trained to please other people, and be compliant. The result is overwhelm, anxiety, exhaustion and burnout. The inability to say no is really a case of wanting to look good and the need to be helpful and nice to others. Learning to say no requires practice – start today.
Strategy Four: Decline with Respect and Dignity
5. Breaking Promises (Undermines trust).
Making a promise builds an expectation that you will take action. If the promise is broken, the person will begin to lose trust in you. Its only natural that things come up that may keep you from completion a promised action on time and it may not be in your best interest to complete the task and on time. If you simply ignore your promise, you’re out of integrity with your word and demonstrating lack of empathy towards the other party. In contrast, if you communicate you are unable to keep your promise and do your best to clean up the mess both parties will maintain the relationship in a positive light. Integrity is maintained and trust is strengthened.
Strategy Five: Promise Soundly and Clean up the Mess after Broken Promises
6. Treating Assessments as the Facts.
What you judge and perceive as the truth is not necessarily the truth. Even evidence to back up your statement still doesn’t make it the truth. Treating our assessments of the situation as truth and insisting our perspective is correct is how most conflict arises. We must be flexible and learn to ‘bracket’ others views without passing judgement. Holding assessments as the truth comes across as rigid and arrogant and conflict is sure to occur as a result. Diversity and difference is healthy.
Strategy Six: Listen to Assessments as ‘Assessments’ Not the ‘Truth’.
I would love to hear your comments below.
Photo by: mustafakhayat – CC Attribution License