We are communicating every day, all the time. Even when we are silent, we are communicating something. If we avoid communicating, that communicates something. If we speak continuously without pausing, that communicates something. If we do not look at people when they speak that also communicates something. We can't not communicate.
Effective communicators are moving in the direction of getting the responses they want. Ineffective communicators either have no clear target, do not pay attention to the responses they're getting, do the same thing over and over again and blame themselves for doing it wrong, or find fault in someone else.
1. Know Your Target Outcome
When you are an effective communicator you know what you want. You know the response you intend to get. You know your target. You go into a meeting and you are very aware of the result you’d like to achieve. You know what you want to happen in your interactions. Sometimes this may mean recognizing that you do not consciously know what’s your desired outcome of a certain situation and that’s when you need to ask yourself, “What do I want? What is my desired outcome? What is my target?”
2. Be Flexible
Effective communicators are flexible. If what they're doing is not working, they do something else. If what they're doing is working and is moving them closer to their outcome, they keep on doing it (unless they get tired of doing it in one way and want to be more creative). If what they're doing isn't working, then it is time to change. Flexibility implies varying your approach. You can be flexible in the way you think, feel and act. For example, you might change your thinking from: “This is not going to work” to “How will I make this work?”. We all can get stuck in patterns of our thinking, actions and feelings (rigidity) that limit our effectiveness as a communicator. By recognizing and changing these patterns, we greatly improve the chances of becoming a better communicator.
3. Sharpen Your Sensory Awareness
Sensory awareness means being able to make a distinction between “what you see and hear in another’s behavior” and “what you think it means” (your interpretation). It's often the case when these two are completely different. Stop doing mind reading. The only way to really know what the person you are speaking with is thinking about is to ask them.
Great communicators also have the ability to balance between being in Uptime and Downtime. What does that mean? Being in Uptime means paying close attention to external sensory cues (both verbal and nonverbal behavior of others), remaining focused on what you see and hear, externally. The opposite would be paying attention to your internal dialogues, visualizations and feelings, which is called Downtime. Downtime is not a bad thing. It is the source of our creativity and intuition. It is how we make sense of the world. That's why it's important it's important to balance the two.
4. Be Respectful
Maintain a genuine respect and appreciation for the other person’s “model of the world,” even when “your model of the world” seems incompatible. This does not require liking or agreeing with the other person. It means respecting their model of the world and the fact that that’s the best they are capable of at this very moment. Our internal programs are based on the distinctions we have learned so far. We upgrade from a software program version 4.0 to 5.0 because we recognize the limitations of 4.0 and the benefits of 5.0. But when 4.0 came out it was the current version and the best one available. Respecting ourselves also means that we accept that we are doing the best we can based on the internal programming we have in place
5. Show Recognition
Being recognized and recognizing the being in yourself and others are two equally important sides of the communication process. We are interacting with a living, breathing, evolving human being. Not a computer. The person you are communicating with has their own thoughts and feelings. Always remember that if they behave in a way you cannot understand, there is probably a reason for it. Just become curious and allow them to express themselves. If they trust you, they will.
I hope you enjoyed this article!
If you want to challenge yourself you can try memorizing the 5 aspects of being an effective communicator and practice them during your next conversation