CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – AUGUST 27, 2020
Mistakes that Cause One-Sided Conversations (PT.2)
What to do about it?
Demonstrate concern for the other person. Do your utmost to make them feel an important part of the conversation.
Learn the physical signals. There are good books that can help you understand body language, but some of it is very obvious. You won’t miss it if you maintain your awareness of the other person.
Listen for verbal cues. Communications markers are verbal as well as physical. Listen for changes in tone of voice or message signals.
4 – Assuming your listener understands you.
If a leader “dumps” a message and rushes off, it is very easy to assume that the listeners have understood the message. There are many reasons that prevent understanding. Your listeners always have other things going on so they are hearing through their filters that can cause them not to tune in or to miss the point. Factors that may further obscure understanding are abstract concepts and the leader’s attempt to be diplomatic.
Several years ago, I was conducting one of my first leadership evaluations. In the final session with the leader, I needed to give him feedback on some leadership deficiencies that surfaced in his evaluation. I attempted to be diplomatic in my counsel to this leader. Weeks later, I found out that he interpreted my attempt at diplomacy as a compliment to his leadership style rather than counsel for change. I assumed that he had understood, and it was a costly mistake.
Communicating cross-culturally requires extra caution in our assumptions that messages are understood. We may be speaking with people for whom our language is not their first language. Issues of vocabulary and cultural implications can impede our attempts to communicate. Whatever the reason, there is always the possibility that others do not fully understand what we have said. The consequence can be misunderstanding, confusion, and even conflict.
What to do about it?
Keep it simple. Use plain language and avoid jargon and idioms that assume knowledge on the part of the listeners.
Make space for understanding. Speak in shorter segments so that the listener can assimilate what is said before you move on to the next idea.
5 – Making the listener responsible for understanding.
“If they don’t understand they should ask” may seem sensible, but it has at least two flaws:
First, people tend not to ask leaders out of fear; fear of looking silly, or perhaps fear of the leader.
Second, listeners often do not understand that they do not understand. Most people attach their own interpretation to a leader’s message that makes the most sense to them. But their interpretation is often quite different from the leader’s intended message.
When the message we intend to communicate seems clear to us, it can be difficult to appreciate that people may not have understood. After all it is so obvious, isn’t it? Furthermore, may not feel it’s our job to make sure our listeners understand. However, remember that it benefits both you and the listener when they understand what you are saying.
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