It’s all about Communication! What is? Well, everything, actually. From the moment you wake to the moment you lay your head on your pillow, it’s all about communication. And, sadly, misunderstandings – bad communication or just-not-happening communication.
So, how do we communicate? I’m thinking primarily of face-to-face so let’s put social media comms, texts, WhatsApps etc etc to one side for now. Let’s just think about how we talk to people in real time – family, friends and colleagues. Did you know that the words we use make up only about 10% of our communication? The tone of our voice is about 40% (our voice tone says a lot about us. It tells the listener about our social background, our district and country try of origin, our current emotional state, our physical state and our attitude towards the person we are talking to) and the other 50% goes to body language. Just read through those percentages again because I think they are pretty surprising! What that is telling us is we need to be aware of our whole self when we are talking to people. Picture the bored looking man you are talking before a meeting starts. He’s shuffling his feet, he’s looking over your shoulder (beyond rude!), he’s looking down at his feet – you know the one. Whatever you are trying to discuss, he’s not engaged. And whatever his response, you will struggle to buy into it because his whole body is sending off signals that he probably doesn’t really believe what he says and doesn’t much care. So why should you?
Now picture a sensitive conversation you need to have with your teenage daughter. She comes to you because she wants to tell you something or needs your advice but just at that moment, you are cooking supper and are short of time and the rice is about to be burned beyond repair. So, she sits at the table trying to figure out how to say what’s on her mind and you have your back to her scraping the pan. You can hear her words, sure, but you can’t see her – her face, her eyes, her body language and all she can see is a barrier between her needs and you, via your back. Time to chuck the rice, delay supper, sit down facing her (preferably without the table in between you) and listen with every part of you.
Really focussed listening is not easy. It requires practise – ongoing, for ever, and an awareness of whether or not we are really listening and focussing. If we think we are listening but actually we’re reading that text that’s just pinged in at the same time, we are inviting misunderstanding and confusion to join the party. It’s easy to get distracted but sometimes it’s just not worth it.
Just by being aware of all this, you are going to improve your communication skills straight away. But if you are struggling with a particular relationship – either personal or professional – please go to my website – www.alicejohnsen.co.uk – or call me on 07961 080513 to have a confidential chat. Small changes early on are far better than trying to to a big fix when the boat has nearly sailed.