7 Ways to Ruin Good Communication
31st August, 2010
Communication is important. Your work, your relationships and your lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. Good communication helps you overcome barriers, express who you are and what you believe, it helps you get what you want (ideally without sounding like a brat!), it encourages others to come out from behind themselves and show you who they really are and it inspires change.
Maybe you think I'm being a bit full on but I truly believe that good communication can and does do all of those things. I believe that because I've personally done all the things I'm about to list that have resulted in bad communication and even worse results. Let's dive in and look at what can ruin good communication:
1. Too much talking - sounds weird right? But don't. It's that simple. If you want better conversations with the people in your life, listen. Really ask questions and really listen. As long as you're doing all the talking, you're not learning anything you didn't already know.
2. Take the problem away from someone - aka giving advice. If you want good or even excellent conversations try and prevent yourself from solving the other person's problem. They likely know what to do, but when you problem solve you diminish their capacity to think and figure things out for themselves.
3. Don't inquire about their feelings - this might be totally unnatural for you, but consider this; emotions are the petrol that propel us into action. I've complained and moaned and gone into graphic detail about how awful a situation is but it wasn't until I explored my emotions that I really got in touch with the price I was paying by not doing anything.
4. Be vague, unclear and indirect - you won't the best out of any meaningful conversation if, first off, you don't know what you want from the conversation and then second if you can't communicate that directly to whoever you're talking to. Have a goal in mind for what you want to achieve.
5. Allow interruptions - you're not being respectful to yourself or to the other person if you're checking your messages or watching the TV over their head. You cannot be here, present for the conversation and prepared to be nowhere else, when you're interrupted by phones, TV's, other people etc.
6. Have the conversation over email or text message - 97% of communication is non-verbal so as soon as you move the conversation into an entirely text based medium, you're only communicating in that 3% zone. Bad idea. I once had a work colleague show me a text message from her boyfriend, she was quizzing the meaning which I thought was totally benign, I mean it literally said "I'll pick you up at 8pm" and she said "But the TONE is chippy, don't you think?". There was no tone. It was a text message with no punctuation. NO TONE! The tone was in her head...cue an afternoon of slowly going nuclear and nothing productive getting done.
7. Don't show up - I mean this figuratively. If you're after genuine connection with someone and you want to get something out of this particular conversation - be present, fully present and prepared to be nowhere else. Don't check out, drift off and start day dreaming. If you find you have, just bring your focus and attention back to the conversation.
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