How Are You Being Heard?

Isn’t it fascinating when you perceive that you couldn’t be clearer in how you communicated something and your co-worker doesn’t have a clue what you’re talking about?

Communication snafus like this happen every day, and sadly, some people think that the way to resolve it is to say the same thing over and over (remember the definition of insanity…). Instead, consider how you can rephrase or use an example to make your point.

Even better is to ask the person a question, and how she answers will tell you a lot. The dialogue that ensues should go a long way to clarify any misunderstandings.

When a communication misunderstanding occurs, consider what happens differently when you write (email or text) vs. talk (in person, phone, video call). Written communication tends to be more black and white while verbal comments reveal more shading, such as tone of voice and gestures.

If you have an ongoing communication misunderstanding over email, switch to voice. Most resistance that occurs over email can be resolved through talking.

It takes two or more people to communicate, so keep in mind that you’re one of at least two participants. If you are in a leadership role and having dialogue with one or more employees, they may be cautious in how they interact with you while you may not be paying attention to the role differences.

For a little self-reflection, note how you communicate with others by email or by voice. How does it change? How different is it when you are in “the boss” mode versus speaking with a friend?

When you have the same kind of communication challenges with different people, observe what you say and do and see how you can adapt your communication to be more effective. You may find this difficult to do on your own, so ask a friend or a professional advisor to help you see how your communication may be improved.

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