It’s fascinating that the activity which occupies approximately 70% of our waking hours is what we have difficulty with most. The fact is, most of us were never taught how to communicate in a way that produces desired results, so we continue to experience frustration, resistance, conflicts, or breakdowns. Take a look at some of the obstacles that may prevent you from reaching certain objectives during the communication process.
- We want to be heard and listened to but don’t always concentrate on the quality of our message or give the gift of our own listening.
- We want to be understood, yet often fail to check if our communication was successful.
- We want acceptance and agreement from others, so much that we often become consumed with having to be right or to prove our point, instead of co-creating a greater outcome together.
- We want some kind of action or response from another person, without letting them know what we really want, or how to achieve it.
- We want to understand the message the other person is communicating to us, yet our ability to listen is tainted by our perceptions of the person speaking or the outcome we are looking to achieve. So, we often pass judgment on the speaker, evaluating the messenger rather than fully accepting the entire message.
Evolving your communication requires taking full responsibility for the outcome of each conversation; not only for what you are saying but also for the message the other person is hearing.
Since we all listen and process information differently, it is crucial to uncover and become sensitized to the other person’s style of communication in order to align it with your own.
To strengthen your communication, here are ten questions to ask yourself to determine how effectively you communicate.
1. Am I taking full responsibility for the message being heard by the other person? (Remember, it doesn’t matter what you say, it only matters what the other person hears.)
2. Did I respect the other person’s point of view? Did I have a reaction to what they were saying that prevented me from listening to their full message?
3. Did the other person feel heard and understood? (Did I acknowledge them?)
4. If I was asking someone to take a specific action, did I make my request clear?
5. Am I speaking in a way the other person can understand? (Am I communicating in a way the other person will listen? (I.e., Speaking in their “language”/communication style.)
6. Am I checking to see if the conversation worked/was successful?
7. Was I communicating openly, without prejudices, expectations and judgment? (Was I focused on having to be right, or have my point of view be accepted?)
8. Did I leave the conversation with some value? (Did I allow the other person to contribute to me?)
9. Did I give the person the gift of my listening?
10. If the outcome of the conversation did not meet my expectations, did I learn what I could improve upon to better communicate with that particular person? (Did I open up a new and greater possibility that I didn’t notice before?)