Communication amongst people is a process in which everyone receives, sends, interprets, and infers all at the same time, and there is no beginning and end. How do you send messages effectively? Taking into account your own internal states, what can you do to ensure effective communication of your ideas and feeling?
- Use “I” statements. Powerful and influential statements are made when a person uses personal pronouns when speaking. It contributes to direct communication. Simply say what you think or feel about something. “I feel frustrated when people are late to meetings” versus “Some people may think that people who come late to meetings are passive aggressive“.
- Describe behaviours without judgment or an evaluative statement. “You interrupted me several times during our staff meeting” versus “you are an attention-seeker and have no care for others“.
- Describe your feelings: this is an important part of the message that often gets skipped even though the emotional content is directly colouring your message. Best to just name it so that others can understand what is going on for you. For instance, “I felt angry when you cut me off during our staff meeting.”
- Maintain congruence between your verbal and non-verbal messages. Saying, “I enjoyed your presentation to the board..” with your eyes rolling or a sarcastic tone, will confuse the person and most likely decrease trust which closes communication down. Your body language accounts for more than 60% of your message – verbal and physical congruence will build trust and clarify your intent.
- For many people it will take practice to become an effective communicator. Ask for feedback around the clarity, delivery, and timing of your message. It might feel risky but each small risk will build your confidence and increase trust in those you work with.
Tips for listening and responding
- Focus on what is being said – tune out distractions
- Look for non-verbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions or body postures
- Listening is about the other, not you. Try to refrain from forming your response before you have even heard what the other is saying
- Clarify and ask pointed questions to help you understand what is being said
- Paraphrase: restate in your own words, what the person says, feels and means
- Try to understand the message from the sender´s perspective: “So if I understand you..”
The Johari Window: a model for self-awareness, personal and group development and understanding relationships. http://www.businessballs.com/johariwindowmodel.htm
According to Duxbury and Higgins, to reduce work-life conflict and improve overall quality of life, employers need to focus their efforts on four sets of initiatives:
- Increase the number of supportive managers within the organization
- Provide flexibility around work
- Increase employee’s sense of control
- Focus on creating a more supportive work environment