Are you growing increasingly frustrated with the countless miscommunications happening in your business? Whether these are occurring between you and a business partner, or an employee and a customer, quick and careless communication can quickly turn into avoidable chaos.
When we train ourselves (and others) to practice two important skills that work in tandem, we can avoid a significant amount of distress and dysfunction in our workplaces.
What are the two skills you ask?
Listening, and Asking Questions. In particular, reflective listening is the skill to begin with.
Reflective listening is about listening to the person in front of you with intent and focus versus passively hearing noise as the person speaks. This includes taking in body language, tone, general demeanor and facial expression as you are listening to the speaker’s words.
Reflective listening is factoring all of that in to understand the cohesive message of the speaker and essentially repeating back their message to ensure you have heard that person’s message accurately. It is also imperative for noticing incongruencies and being able to call them out without being attacking or critical, but rather reflecting back with genuine curiosity what you are seeing and hearing.
Taking the extra 30 seconds for reflecting back what you hear can save hundreds of miscommunications and misunderstandings. This is a tool to practice at home and in the workplace.
It may sound like this… “So you need the report in by tomorrow at 5p, is that right?”
When there is incongruency with the speaker’s body language, tone and words, you can simply share what you notice. “On one hand I am hearing you say you are not upset with me, on the other hand your facial expression looks really angry right now… I’m not sure what to believe.”
Taking the extra seconds to ensure you understand someone’s message is the difference between walking away from a conversation with clarity or confusion.
Secondarily, asking questions for clarity and to get enough of the right information is crucial.
Sometimes the person speaking may think that leaving out certain information is helpful, or they may not think it relevant. Your job is to ask good questions so that you have a good enough understanding of what is going on, and the ability to make wise decisions as a result of a meaningful and productive exchange of questions and responses.
While not every misunderstanding or frustration can be avoided, by listening intently, paying attention to all aspects of communication and not just words, and then asking questions to glean the information you truly need, many future frustrations can be avoided.
Anything we can do to reduce peoples stress in the workplace is a good thing as virtually no one does their best work consistently when feeling stressed out and frustrated.
Be sure you are communicating clearly- that your message is congruent with your tone and body language when you speak so that you can consistently show up in ways that enhance great communication. Additionally, this facilitates a higher level of trust in relationships.
The workplace (or home place) and everyone in it will thank you.