- How do you know when you’ve been misunderstood?
- Can you hide your true feelings when speaking with others?
I am going to go out on a limb and say that most people feel they are good communicators. Those who have attended communication workshops may have been taught the 7 Cs of communication, which are to be clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, considerate, and courteous. You have probably also heard that one should be fully present and actively listen, not just listen to respond. We know all of this, yet communication misses abound. Consider the following scenarios. What did he mean by that? Why is she so upset? All I said was. The boss walked by me without speaking. Is he angry with me? I liked what he said, but not the way he said it. Hmmm.
It is well known that communication is 7% words, 38% tone, and 55% body language. You may have heard those numbers before as well. That is why every day I pray that my words, tone, and body language reach people the way I intend. When preoccupied or distracted I am more likely to fall short.
Influential people deal with multiple priorities and diverse audiences. As a result, they are more likely to be misunderstood or misread. Individual and group information receivers who know them will understand their idiosyncrasies and humor. Those who want to create and maintain positive relationships with people at all levels in an organization and/or in other settings pay attention to how they employ communication skills both technically and empathically.
As noted in a previous post, research has shown that people tend to have a negative bias. That is to say, they are more likely to view a preoccupied or distracted speaker’s communications negatively. My advice to the listener: assume positive intent. Sometimes listeners have preconceived notions about the person he or she is listening to. In other words, effective communication comes down to a variety of factors. It’s up to both the message-giver and receiver to make communication effective.
Essentially, healthy communication is the ability to make sure your words, tone, and body language are conveying the intended message. I almost lost an outstanding job applicant because my tone and body language betrayed me. The candidate thought I was disinterested because of the cold medication I had taken. She was surprised when I called and offered her a position. I am so glad I followed up. The take-home message: if you sense that you’re engaged in a communication miss, reflect on what and how you are communicating and how the person is responding to the message, then circle back when you have clarity. Information sent from the heart reaches the heart. That is empathic communication.
Feel free to share your communication hits and misses!