Monday, June 22, 2015

Please Understand Me

One of the most common failures in effective communication is to speak to people as if they were carbon copies of us. My father, for example, had one—and only one—style of communication: direct and blunt. Like Joe Friday (Dragnet), dad was a “Just the facts, ma’am” kind of guy, so that was his mode of communicating. Of course this also meant that you were all-in on bluntness. As he experienced a good measure of success with his style, he never saw any need to expand his repertoire. This, too, is quite common: a little success often gets in the way of increasing our effectiveness.

“But this is me, the full me, all me. If people don’t like it, they can move along.” So, let me get this straight: the intent and goal of your communication takes a back seat to your style and mode of communicating? Really? And, when people do not “hear” you, this is the mindset that leads you to conclude, “You can’t handle the truth!”  (Best ever imitation of Jack Nicholson.)  The reality for your audience, however, was that they hadn’t heard much of anything you said, as they were preoccupied with feeling invisible.

Demonstrating Understanding
There is no communication without rapport. Whatever the context of our communication, our listeners need to sense that we have an appropriate understanding of who they are as individuals--their needs and wants, their personalities and preferences, their hopes and fears--before they will give us the right to influence, persuade or instruct them.

If you have little or no understanding of your audiences’ core beliefs, cultures, personality make-ups, and past experiences with those who sought to communicate what you are communicating, sell what you are selling, or teach what you are teaching, you are going to be clueless as to how best to frame your communication. Without sufficient understanding of your audience’s identity, the chances for attaining and maintaining rapport are pretty much nil.

Listen. I am not saying that we must undergo a total personality makeover each time the makeup of our audience changes. I am suggesting that effective communication requires that we avoid unnecessary barriers (for example: forgo direct and blunt, when your audience prefers indirect and solicitous, or vice versa), and that we do everything in our power to discover the mindsets and heart-sets of those with whom we intend to communicate.

Think of it this way: Everyone with whom we speak, be it with loved ones, students, employers or employees, team members, clients, or parishioners, has a request of us – Please understand me. Unless and until we grant their request with ongoing demonstrations of understanding, pretty much every word we speak is heard as only so much blah, blah, I don’t care enough to discover what makes you tick, blah. If all that matters is delivering our thoughts, then, by all means, talk on. If, however, we genuinely wish to be heard, then we will want to grant our audience’s request.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment