It happened to me again this week. I tried to convey a suggestion and it was taken as “an insult.” Like me none of us are immune to mis communicating. No matter how well we choose our words they will have no meaning until they are translated by our listener. Effective communication involves feelings, connections, and other nonverbal signals. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best. “What you do speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you are saying.” Therefore, it is important to understand the meaning others might put on your words. Your gestures, expressions, intonations, and beliefs will communicate much more meaning than the words alone.
Communication is a two-way process to exchange ideas. We communicate to elicit some type of response. Some examples of a response could be more knowledge, a specific action, or some type of emotion.
A good communicator, to be sure of the desired response, is also a good listener. He or she listens for feedback to see that the message is being understand. This also including watching the other person’s nonverbal signals and clues.
Depending on our communications media, the words we use might not have as powerful an impact as other factors. For example, in face-to-face conversations we communicate more information nonverbally through our body language and our tone of voice. Every communication has a nonverbal element.
You can miscommunicate with any form of medium. These are some that I have noticed.
Face to Face – Your body language will say whether you believe what you are saying or whether you are uncomfortable and unsure. When you speak look directly at the other person. If you look away it says you lack confidence or belief in your message. The listener might be reluctant to trust you based on your body language. Some other subtle signals such as the way you stand, the way you fidget, or your facial expression will create an impression that may be contrary to your words.
Email – I have heard people tell me that they can feel the anger in someone’s email. Tersely written emails with no forethought can do great damage. The misuse or overuse of email can damage relationships. I worked with a manager who sent emails to people who were sitting right outside her office. Her staff complained that she was impersonal and did not show interest in their contributions.
Phone - Think about your message before you make that phone call. Your voicemail message on your phone should be carefully scripted. Listen to your message. If you were a caller, what impression would you receive? When you leave messages on answering machines, they should be concise and to the point, not rambling to the point of being cut off by the time limit?
Once again, remember that the best way to give a good message is to be a good listener. Remember, we have two ears and one mouth. Focus on the person receiving the message. Watch for clues of understanding, engagement, and agreement. In short, what to see if you are getting that response you desire. In this way you will ensure that you have connected and established two-way communication.
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