Let me see if I understand where you’re coming from
There is an interesting blog about 8 One-Liners that Stick; short phrases that can be effectively used when communicating with others. Some of the phrases are: “I’ve heard good things about you”, “I think we have something in common”, and the title of this blog.
While these were some interesting suggestions, what got my attention was some of the reader’s reactions to that column. Several comments suggested that using those lines sounded cheesy or insincere, with one strong reaction being, “Don’t stroke my ego, get me results”. What a great opening to write about getting results in communication.
Not every style of communicating, nor any one-liners, will work in every situation. It is not just what you say, it’s how it is heard, and interpreted. The language of business is patterned to influence people and frame words in a way to elicit a desired response from the audience. Whether those words are influential or manipulative depend on the interpretation of the listener.
In technical areas, there is a necessity for precise and factual words to be clearly understood. Getting to solutions means talking about the “unvarnished truth” rather than cloud the meaning in hyperbole. When outside of technical areas, this style can be perceived as blunt or even rude. Again, it’s more the audience’s ear rather than the speaker’s words that determine the effect or result of the conversation.
Here are five tips for better communication.
1) Know yourself, but don’t just be “me”. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Who you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying.” Yes, you are who you are and it is important to be genuine. Please don’t use that as an excuse for how you interact with people. All of us know, and try to avoid, those people who are rude, or manipulative, or unpleasant. All of us want to work for and with people who inspire us, educate and inform us, and help us with our careers. The former are only worried about themselves while the later look at how to benefit others. When you behave in ways that benefit others, you become successful as well.
2) Be mindful of cultural difference. Certainly the attitudes, assumptions, preferences, and even values of other people can be very different than your own. The great benefits businesses are receiving from the diversity of the workplace has also required us to be mindful of the cultural differences based on geography. There is also the cultural differences within organizations that are more departmental or role-based in nature. The Geek Gap, for example, explains the profound cultural clash between technology folks (the Geeks) and business folks (they call Suits).
3) Thinking before speaking. It’s not just politicians and celebrities that have to worry about every word that comes out of their mouth. Reputation and trust takes time to build and, in no time at all, be ruined with the wrong words. Executives have to choose their words carefully for that reason. Just think; everything your boss says, or doesn’t say, is hyper-analyzed by everyone. While you may be all for honestly, there is that fine line the boss always walks; trying to be open and forthcoming while being conscious of sensitive and privileged information. Plato said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
4) If you can’t build a bridge – start swimming. Don’t give up with communication problems. Since friction between people or groups can be managed but not eliminated, you will find yourself in uncomfortable situations. Even though you may be breaking a sweat, conflict can be positive when dealt with constructively. This is where trust and reputation come in again. Continue to strive for positive outcomes and be willing to give as well as take.
5) Stay Positive. Negative comments do more harm to the reputation of the speaker, even if the complaint is valid. Four questions to ask yourself before being negative can be found in a recent blog by Marshall Goldsmith.
Let me see if I understand where you are coming from. Good communication is what we want from our bosses and need with our co-workers. Just as our individual success is dependent upon other people, groups, and departments, organizational success is dependent on all of those areas working together effectively. Since communication is about dialogue, not monologue, what tips or comments do you have about using communication to get better results?