June is Effective Communications Month!
Last week we shared the first three of 7 communication mistakes that derail effective communication. This week we will consider the last four.
Communication mistake 4: Making assumptions
Throughout the course of life, every person has built up some assumptions about self, others, and the world in general. We tend to filter what another says through what we think the other is like and what we think he or she is saying. We bring our preconceptions to the moment of dialogue. When we filter the dialogue through such images, biases, and assumptions, distortion and separation are the result.
It is better to bring assumptions into the open to be examined and discussed. Ask more questions. Share your assumptions behind your conclusions. Check them out to make sure everybody is really agreeing or disagreeing to the same thing.
Communication mistake 5: Wrong environment
Many times communication fails because we approached it at the wrong moment. Our timing was off. Or the other person was not in the best frame of mind. Make sure to ask if the moment is right, or if you should set another time.
Also, your communication is more effective if there is not too much noise, or not enough privacy. The more comfortable the environment around you is, the more effective your communication will be.
Communication mistake 6: Negative focus
It is easy to focus on criticism and complaints, blaming, or commanding. The problem with this is that a negative focus tends to put people on the defensive, closing down effective communication.
Your focus needs to be on what your want others to do, or what your expectations are. Stating them in the positive always elicits more cooperation. Don’t say: “I’m tired of how late people are coming to meetings. It shows your lack of interest and concern.” You will get better results if you say instead: “I really need everybody to be right on time for meetings. We have very crucial decisions to make. Your thoughts and ideas are very important and I want to make sure I can have everybody’s input.”
Communication mistake 7: Contrary purposes
When starting a conversation, it helps if everybody is “on the same page.” Contrary purposes occur, for example, when one person may want to secure agreement, while the other just wants to explore options. At the beginning of the dialogue it is important to clarify what the purpose of the dialogue is. Your communication will be much more effective, and you will save time and prevent conflicts.
Remember. . .
John Baldoni –in talking about effective communication– says: “It is the means by which we exchange ideas, learn from each others, and perhaps most importantly, connect to each other.” Make sure you are not blocking effective communication by making any of the 7 mistakes I have share over the last two weeks.
If you want to learn more about effective communication, I invite you to buy my book: Transformative Conversations: The heart of the leadership journey On that page you can read the first chapter for free if you want to know more about the book before buying it.