How being understood can be misunderstood

Some of you know the story of why I started to do what I do at Beyond.

In February 2011 we lost my father following a pretty awful six months.

Throughout this time, we were being given conflicting information: a stroke, an infection, Parkinson’s disease, Motor Neurone Disease the list seemed to be added to each time someone spoke to us.

Daily we watched dad deteriorate very rapidly from an independent, proud man to a confused husk of his former self.

We wanted a magic answer.

We wanted someone to talk to us and explain what was happening.

We wanted someone to take dad’s hand and explain to him.

We wanted someone to relate to dad like the proud person he was.

During this time my father and my family were subjected to, well pretty much everything we hear about in the press in terms of his care and the lack of communication made this already difficult time even more distressing.

After we lost dad, I was obviously devastated and angry and yet I started to realise that perhaps the clinicians that we came across thought that they were communicating with us? I know that they probably did not mean to come across as uncaring or dismissive. Maybe the myriad of doctors that we spoke to thought that we understood?

Communication quoteHow many times have you heard people complain about communication whether it be within the organisation or a personal relationship?

How many times have you hit your head against the brick wall of frustration that your message is not getting across?

Some Tips that make a difference

Clarity

Be clear with yourself on the result that you want. Many times we go head long into an interaction without being clear what we want to achieve from it

Change your perspective

Often when we communicate we think about our message only from our point of view. It makes perfect sense to us so therefore it must make sense to the person we are talking or writing to right? And yet sometimes it feels like we are talking a completely different language doesn’t it? This is often because we are communicating as the conveyor and not the receiver of the information.

Consider for a moment ……. perhaps you would do things differently if you stepped in as the person receiving the information that you are about to communicate? How does it sound? Does it makes sense? Can you see what it is looking to convey? Do you feel like you get the meaning?

Remember the power of listening. Really listening.

Not listening to solve the problem you think they are giving you.

Not listening to disagree as you pick up all the points that to you are wrong.

Not listening to agree as you want to placate or bond with them.

Truly listening. Because true listening is the often the missing link in any communication conundrum.

We all like to consider ourselves as good listeners but consider – how often do you really listen?

Be curious

If you are a manager and your team is complaining about or not acting on your communication simply seek to find out more, ask why and what can you do to make the difference.

If you work for that “non-communicating” manager, take responsibility for asking specific questions that will help you get the information you need.

If you are feel that your partner doesn’t seem to be listening, be curious about what is stopping them. Ask what you can do to improve the communication?

Be open to feedback

We can only improve if we know what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong so ask for feedback and stop mind-reading!

Be open to learn more

One thing that will have a positive effect just about every area of your life both personally and professionally is to improve your communication skills. Be open to learning from others and devour those good books on communicating effectively, there are lots out there.

For communicating with teams try Caitlin Walker’s ‘From Contempt to Curiosity’ and for those of you who want to write great articles, newsletters or get a written message read and understood try ‘Read Me: 10 lesson for writing great copy’ by Roger Horberry

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