Interpersonal Communication – Balancing the “What” and “How Much”!
We talk to people all the time. We’re on auto-pilot most of the time just saying what we feel and feeling certain the other party knows what we are trying to say. It’s usually not until someone gets upset that we begin to give a thought to what we said, and ask ourselves, “could it be said in a different way to better convey our desired message”?
When we communicate, most of us believe that the other person just automatically understands what we are trying to convey. We tell ourselves that we speak the same language, so there shouldn’t be a problem! Sometimes it does work that way, however, very often it does not.
A large part of the challenge is we ignore the fact that clarity in communication comes from the level of relationship you share with a person. The longer you and and the other individual have been communicating and the more in depth your communication has been, the more you are able to decipher what they are trying to tell you. Most of us have probably had a relationship in the past, where we realized too late that our communication was superficial and contributed to the decay of the relationship – in a big way.
Often in those cases it’s not that we didn’t talk, it’s was more of what we didn’t say. Or we avoided conversations that we thought would be uncomfortable only to realize later we avoided conversations we needed to have to maintain the relationship. Sometime the things unsaid have the greatest impact!
People often say things like, “I don’t need people at work to like me, I just go there to work”. While that is true, they don’t need to like us, they do need to be able to understand us. Understanding begins with comfort and a basic understanding of the other person, how they send and receive information comfortably. With people we really care about and want them in our lives, we take the time to figure out how to say things to them, so they can understand what we are trying to share. We often forget or don’t realize we have to do the same thing with our teammates to become effective at working together. Not to the same extent usually but it’s the same need.
Assuming a professional approach, it’s usually how you did or didn’t say a thing, that creates a communication issue. In personal relationships, we often take the time to clarify and better express ourselves. Unfortunately, in professional relationships, most of us just say what we want and assume it’s understood. It’s not until somewhere down the road we find the relationship has eroded. Poor communication creates resentment, misunderstanding, resistance. It’s often that not enough information sharing is the issue! We like to assume people just know how we feel and often find out the hard way they didn’t and as usual, what they assumed we thought and felt was totally wrong!
In any relationship, good communication requires that we take the time to share information thoroughly. Research show that we as human beings operate through assumptions a majority of the time. To make our communication flow easily and effectivly, we must learn to:
- Speak assertively
- Be thorough with our message
- Understand the communication process
To be thorough, we must make certain the other person receives all the information we need them to have. It takes a little more time but removes misunderstanding and poor performance. Being assertive is a learned set of skills. Most people hear assertive and immediately think of aggressive communication. Aggressive communicators will yell, be sarcastic, be accusatory, belittle and sometime even justify being vulgar. They like to say they had to be that way to get the point across. That’s like using a 10-pound sledge hammer instead of a 16-ounce framing hammer because you thought the nail was tough to drive in. With that method you’ll always do damage, which will require more work at some point to repair.
The Art of Assertiveness:
By learning how to be thorough and speaking assertively, you remove the natural barriers inherent in interpersonal communication and make it about the message, not the style of the delivery. This allows for clear communication, positive receipt of the information, and improved relationships between individuals. TLI’s CSP program shares these skills and more. Having these skills will remove stress, increase productivity and allow you to easily build positive relationships. Whether it’s work or home, isn’t easy better?