Effective communication improves lives at home, makes work easier and more interesting, and facilitates all our interactions. It is easy to be in a hurry, forget to pay attention to how we communicate, and fall into bad habits.
The most common mistakes include:
- Poor Listening – it is ironic that while most of us think we are good listeners, the norm is that we hear one word in seven. We interpret more from what we see than what we hear. It is also common that we simply tune-out certain people – sometimes our most loved ones. Alternatively, we listen for what we want to hear. Other tendencies include remembering our own experiences instead of listening, analyzing instead of listening, or planning our response instead of listening.
- Negative language – negativity tends to shut people down. While some of the words we use are obviously negative, others limit without our even realizing it. For example, saying should, could, would, might, try, need, or don’t.
- Telling – when we are telling people what to do or how to do it, they hear very little. Most will tune us out. Often telling is seen as demanding or micro-managing.
- Lack of awareness of different styles – we have different styles of thinking and talking. Some of us are more logic-focused and others are more emotion. 70% of us are more passive and 30% are more aggressive. Some talk about what they see, others about what they feel, and others about what they hear. Background and culture also play into how things are said and understood. If we ignore how someone else talks and interprets, what we say will be unclear.
What you can do to fix these mistakes:
- Poor Listening – choose to listen with interest and for the purpose of understanding the other person. This sounds simple and initially it will take effort.
- Negative language – pay attention to the words you use and say things in positive, confident language.
- Telling – instead of telling, start asking questions. People really can figure out their own answer and when they do, they are more likely to follow-through. Think about it – how often do people do what you tell them versus doing what they determine?
- Lack of awareness of different styles – this starts with simply noticing and paying attention to how other people talk and listen. To really elevate skill in this area does involve learning about different personality and learning styles then flexing to people accordingly.
Where can you learn more about communication and people skills? Coach training. That is your single best source for developing listening skills, positive language, questioning skills, and awareness of different styles plus how to adjust.