How to improve communication – Your problem isn’t what you think it is
When clients ask me how to improve their communication skills, it’s very, very rare that I actually see problems with their communication. What I really see is that people are communicating very well, and what they’re communicating when they think they’re having problems is, “I’m right, you’re wrong.”
The problem isn’t communication. You’re letting the other person, the rest of your organization, or someone in your family know that you are judging them on what they think. That you’re evaluating them and finding them wrong or inferior.
Whenever there are problems, it’s usually because what’s being communicated is, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” in whatever form it takes, So now, there is a communication problem because you don’t agree with that person or they don’t agree with you.
But that really isn’t a communication problem, is it? So what really is the problem that’s taking place?
One of the first concepts in neuropsychology (and that’s really the root of The Inevitable You® Coaching System) is you always start out with an intention. So you have to ask yourself, and this is really important, I want you to ponder this: When you are in discussion or argument with somebody, are you trying to win something? Are you trying to hear the other person? What’s your position? Are you trying to tell them your side? Are you listening with just the idea that you have to form a response? Are you just looking for enough information and as soon as you get a pause you can dive in? Do you just want to win?
And in that set intention, now you can really begin to look at the deeper issue. What’s really the basis for most of the conflict?
Think about if you’re starting an argument, conflict, or discussion, before the other person has even finished speaking, with, “Well, I have a challenge with that” or” I disagree with that” or, (let’s say you’re even polite and tactful), “Well, I really think that’s a great position.” And then the hidden bubble above your head says, “But you’re still a dumb-ass.”
The problem is occurring right there, it’s not occurring in the rest of the argument. So even on something that you’re really in hot disagreement with, think about this: If you said, “I just flat out disagree with you,” versus, “Well, on 92% of your position I’m in agreement with. Now, how do I get to 93%? Well, that’s pretty hard.”
You have already changed the dynamics of the communication. So it’s really, really important to look at what your intentions are as you begin your communication. What are you really trying to do? What are you outcomes?
Set your intentions first. And that can occur in a breath. You can get a phone call tomorrow and take a deep breath and say. “You know, I really need to think about this. I want to set my intentions. What do I want to do on this call? Am I going to tell you you’re wrong? Or am I going to listen and understand their point of view?”
And sometimes if you know there’s a meeting tomorrow, or you need to have an important chat with your spouse, or a child, or your boss, or whoever it is, you can set the agenda and you can set all of your intentions in motion ahead of time.
Schedule it your calendar to review your communications that day. How did you do? How did it work? Did it get better? Did it make things worse?
Get a buddy. Get feedback, ask them, “Hey, you know, I’m working on better communications, did you notice anything in the last week with me? Did you notice anything in that meeting yesterday? Did you notice anything in the last 30 minutes? Because I want to make sure that I’m communicating well.”