This is a collaboration blog by Erika Del Sordo and Meredith Kimmel, ACC. This blog can also be found at www.meredithkimmel.com.
How well do you communicate? Are you more of a talker, or a listener? Do you try to avoid communication because you don’t want to have the uncomfortable conversations?
I always say there is nothing more important in the world than effective communication.
Sure, conversations may be tough. We may not want to upset the other party. We may think that we are helping someone out by not telling them the truth or avoiding them. This way we spare their feelings.
That is poor communication!
What is Communication and Why is it so Important?
Communication is more than just talking or having a conversation. It is the exchange of information through talking and listening. Listening is the key component.
So often when we have a conversation with someone, we tend to focus on how we are going to respond to what the person is saying that we don’t really hear what they are saying. We just want to take back the spotlight.
This is when communication can break down. We are so busy putting together our thoughts to respond to what the other person is saying that we don’t actively listen to what they are saying.
For example, if you are having a conversation with someone and they tell you about their unpleasant experience at the dentist’s office, and you had an unpleasant experience at the dentist’s office, you may cut them off before they finish telling their story so you can tell yours. This devalues their experience and what they are trying to tell you.
The Importance of Listening
When I started the Professional Coaching Certification at University of Miami, one of the classes in the curriculum was Active Listening. We had to unlearn everything we knew about listening and re-learn how to listen. I would say that for me this was the most difficult part about the coaching curriculum because I had to toss aside everything that I thought I knew about listening.
Listening is more than just hearing; it is also watching for non-verbal communication. I had to learn and practice listening for what is not being said in a conversation.
Another component to listening is asking the person what they mean by a word that they used. I was in a training program, and the facilitator asked the room, “what does nature mean to you?” My answer was a tree outside. However, several participants said it is a person’s disposition, or some variety of that. The words in our language can have many different meanings. When we assume to understand what a person is saying by their word choice, we are not listening to them. Effective communication is checking to make sure that we understand their word choice.
How to Have Effective Communication
Communication is difficult, but it is the most important thing that you can do in any relationship you have with a person, whether they are family, friends, a romantic partner, work, etc.
So often we avoid conversations or delay them because we don’t want to hurt the other person, we foolishly think that they can read our minds, or we don’t want to make any waves. This fear is unfounded. Communication is especially important because it helps you to feel better.
I had a run in with the person at the front desk in one of my doctors’ offices. I didn’t like the way she spoke to me. I could have let it slide, but I felt I was being disrespected. I said something to her and told her how I felt. I was diplomatic, and not accusatory. I got my point across, and I found out later that her superior spoke to her for how she treated me.
Here are tips for Effective Communication:
- When having a conversation, give your full attention to each speaker when they are speaking.
- Have a conversation in person, or over the phone. Texting and email are not effective forms of communication. Too much is lost in terms of the tone and emotion.
- Listen for what is being said and not being said.
- Ask for the meaning of specific words, don’t just assume you know what they mean.
- Don’t speak over the other person when they are talking.
- Have the tough conversation early on, it will be better than not having the conversation at all.
Practice these tips and you will become an effective communicator.
I’m now going to turn this blog over to Erika, so she can give you her thoughts on Communication.
First of all, Meredith Kimmel just dropped the mic. Very well said and an incredible take on the many different ways us humans communicate. Given that she actually has a degree in this, it is accurately presented.
The Human Desire for Communication
Most of what I do for a living has to do with sales. I’m a radio show host, but I also sell radio ads. I’m a podcast host and I sell ads there, as well. I’m a Realtor. ‘Nuff said. But I’m also a personal trainer and voiceover artist. While the latter two don’t sound like sales jobs, they are! I still have to sell a product, that product just happens to be me! But how does it tie into effective communication?
EVERYTHING ties into effective communication. Any interaction throughout your day is due to communication. Even if that’s just with yourself. But what I’m truly getting at is this:
You must communicate the positive information as much as the negative information.
When I speak to someone about selling a product, I usually have a terrific conversation either in person or over the phone a couple of times. Then out of the blue, they ghost me. I’m thinking, where did they go? Is it something I said? Is it something I didn’t say? Oh what a drama-free life it would be if people just communicated properly! If the budget no longer works or you just decided that you no longer want to run ads anywhere, TELL ME! I’m good with a “no-go” just as much as I’m good with a “yes, it’s a go!” And most people are the same way. Just give an answer. Any answer, whether you think it’s what the other person wants to hear or not, but give an answer. How can I adjust prices or tweak content if I don’t know what the problem is?!
Communication is Key
I believe with all of my heart that with effective communication AND proper listening skills, wonderful things get accomplished!
*Use your voice.
*Don’t be afraid to speak up.
*Listen. Then respond.
*Most of all, always respond with your feelings, whether they be good or bad.
If you do not express yourself, no one will ever know what you’re thinking. That goes for everyone. Don’t assume anything. Respond to everything. Leave people with closure. Leave yourself with closure. Cutting someone off cold turkey is bad business practice. And I strictly mean that in a business setting. Sometimes in personal relationships the cold turkey thing is absolutely necessary. 😉
Now go out there and communicate effectively!