George Bernard Shaw astutely observed our biggest challenge with communication when he said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken, which often makes communication a challenge. I do not see myself fit to take on the topic of “communication” as someone who has quite limited mastery of English. However, I did receive big compliment on my communication skills from a potential client this week, so I thought maybe I could share a couple of my tricks with you.
I believe good communication starts with listening and empathizing. In fact, it is the most critical stage where things begin to take shape. Being distracted or formulating a response while you should be listening causes communication to break before it begins. There are words, tone, demeanor, hand gestures, eye movements, feelings, and more communicated all at once. It takes a great amount of attention and openness to collect as much information as possible. Having the most complete picture helps navigate the waters without hitting an iceberg.
My next step is to digest without any judgement. To communicate is to connect. The only way to connect is with a complete understanding and acceptance of the other person’s reality. While we all play in the same physical world, we each live within our own realities. When possible, pausing to digest helps cultivate a response instead of a reaction. Taking time to see all the nuances and trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes helps break the barriers.
The final and most delicate step is to verbalize a response. I formulate shorter sentences so they are easy to process and, when necessary, pause between points to give them a chance to digest. Start your response with validating the other person’s points, using words and phrases they just used. This helps illustrate that you were listening and empathizing with them. Each sentence has a purpose, so you are respectful of their time and attention. Try to stay away from sounding repetitive and be humble while displaying confidence on the subject matter.
Sometimes the message is not in the words that are spoken, so we need to ask the right questions. Sometimes the person we’re trying to communicate with is not ready for the conversation. Sometimes the setting or other factors prevent successful communication. While I don’t always succeed, when I fail at establishing a quality communication, I always go back to step one: to listen and emphasize. To communicate is to connect.
– Burak Sarac, Team Lead
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