Did You Hear What I Just Said?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion
that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw
 

When it comes to communication, most of us think we’re pretty good at it. But how often have you told your spouse, child, teammate, or subordinate how to perform a task, only to discover the results are not what you expected?

Even if you think you are a great communicator, you’re not nearly as good as you think you are. We could easily blame the listener, but as leaders, we have a responsibility to hone our skills in communication in ways that ensure others are receiving and understanding what we are trying to get across to them.

Are you asking or telling?

When you give directions, the person’s brain may be listening, but this won’t help with recall or ownership. Instead, ask questions that lead a person to their own understanding, involve the person in a two-way conversation. Insights are “light bulb moments” where the brain pulls unrelated ideas together and connects them to reach fresh conclusions. People are more likely to remember an idea they generated themselves than an idea provided to them.

Are you addicted to being right?You’re smart and the topic you’re talking about is important. Surely, it’s faster to just share your knowledge?

Not always, when we’re married to our point of view and feeling right, we lack the perspective to connect with others. We must be aware that others may see the situation differently. The more determined we are to convince them that ours is the only “right way” to achieve a goal, the more communication breaks down.

Meaning belongs to the listener

When people listen and confirm they understand, we assume they understand what we understand. That’s often incorrect. People draw from their experiences and memories. People may be listening carefully to what you say but understanding something entirely different.

How can you help people hear what you say?

  • Tell less and ask more
  • Give others the opportunity to co-create with you and to also be right
  • Work toward a shared understanding of what you are trying to achieve.

The costs of poor listening are staggering: loss of time, respect and credibility, damaged relationships, increased conflicts, loss of business opportunities, fractured families…

An investment in listening to education will pay big dividends.

The road is easier together,

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