Updated: Apr 11, 2019
Communication is so often taken for granted. We speak therefore we are communicating – or so many of us believe.
Communication is so much more than words and tone whether it is a meeting, an interview, a networking event or a conversation with your partner. It is about our body language, what is not said and also actively listening to what is being spoken. It’s also about emotional intelligence.
It goes beyond just talking; effective communication requires a change of habit and a sincere presence of mind without judgement or assumption. Just think back to a time when you felt you were truly being listened to. Now think of a time when you were not. What was the difference? Now imagine if an important client who has a problem they’ve come to you about, or a partner coming home from a busy day, felt truly heard by you and vice versa – what more effective outcomes could develop? Interview questions too are often answered without clearly listening to the question - listening well, and the articulation of your answer, can make or break the interview.
Being mindful of the words we speak and how we actively listen isn’t automatically as easy as it sounds – let’s face it, you’ve been talking for years. It helps to prepare what we want to say effectively. It sounds strange, I know, and like anything new you try, it takes a little time before it becomes second nature. However, raising your awareness around how you communicate and listen will pay dividends. Mutual respect in a communication exchange can go a long way. Where would you apply this? With new clients? With peers? In your relationships? I invite you to try.
How can you achieve this? Think KAT
A quick fire way to start you thinking about your communication style may be to consider my 3 tips below:
KNOW: know the relevant facts before you speak. Stop with the facts, avoid dragging them out or making up “facts" in your mind. You may not even realise you do this. Don’t over-dramatise or take longer than necessary to say what you need to say. How often have you heard a meeting has lasted 1 hour when 20 minutes would have sufficed? If it's an interview setting, know what the interviewer is actually asking - people do get it wrong - and, if you need clarification, ask for it.
AVOID: avoid assumptions, judgements, preconceptions, comparisons. Once again, remember not to let your mind race ahead with assumptions or predetermined responses. See with fresh eyes and listen with open ears. Be mindful as you listen.
THINK: control thoughts so they are relevantly attached to the factual event, statement, question or situation. Stop your mind wandering if you notice it doing so. Stick to relevant thoughts that will support your communication to achieve the outcome you seek. Keep that outcome in mind. Aim to be on the same page to create a win-win.
There are many further tips around communication; these are just three quick ones to get you going. Just remember KAT – Know, Avoid, Think.
Let’s talk or share your comments on how you communicate for effect. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org