Many of the places I work in at the moment are complaining about communication. Either they think it happens poorly or not often enough, but even when the messages are delivered somehow they are still not clearly received. It sounds like it should be really simple but in reality clear communication is difficult to achieve.
The problem becomes obvious when we think about communication between 2 people. Sounds like it should be simple enough but when you think about it there are really 4 people in this conversation. First there is the person sending the message, but they have 2 different levels of communication going on. The first is the intention they have in their head about what they are going to say and the second is how they actually say it ie the words they choose, the tone it is delivered in, and even the level of emotion that the message is conveyed with can shape the message in quite different ways.
Then we have the person receiving the message and again there are 2 levels of communication happening for them as well. Firstly there is how they receive the message, as in: did they hear all the words that were said? However, even if the words were all heard loud and clear there is no guarantee that the message will be interpreted in the same way as intended by the sender depending on how they interpret the words, tone, emotion etc of the sender. So it is quite obvious how our messages get muddled up more often than not. Actually when you think about how often we communicate it is a wonder that we get anything across at all!
The trick is to know how to do something about this, and we believe that your personal learning preference shapes how you like to give and receive your communication. So here are a few of our suggestions:
- Pay attention
Most of us are so busy with everything going on that we are really not listening fully to others when they try to communicate with us, so it is important to be present in the conversation to optimise getting the message right. This is usually a strength for Type one learners, so is particularly relevant for learner types 2, 3 & 4.
- Practise how you are going to deliver the message
Make sure you are clear about the intent of your message and be aware of how you personally deliver it. Avoid disguising or expressing yourself in an indirect way in attempt to avoid conflict as a Type One learner might do, but also understand the impact of a message delivered bluntly in the mode more like a Type 3 learner might use. You might be thinking about the Goldilocks principle here.
- Stick to the facts
Some people (typically Type 2s) can communicate way too much information resulting in others not being clear on what you were really trying to say. So keep it short and simple to make sure that you get your message across.
- Check for understanding
Communication really hasn’t happened unless all parties walk away with a clear understanding of what the communication was all about, so before you walk away check that you actually received the message that was intended to be delivered.
The 4MAT model can provide a unique process for thinking about how to structure successful communication, so check out our next blog for more information.