Plato (427 -347 BCE)
In any job interview, I will tell you I am an effective communicator. I have managed staff, spent years in charge of shifts, I document well and I have completed three university degrees and numerous other qualifications. I have the bits of paper and I have the experience. I also have teenage daughters, who, at this present point in time are my greatest teachers.
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. Plato
I am not the wise one – but I am learning to engage with this audience. (Teenagers!)I used to be in control. What I said, happened - in my house anyway.
This is no longer the case. This time in my life has made me reassess just how effective my communication skills are. I certainly have been the fool in our home scenario. The frustration, exasperation, desperation has gotten the better of me. It has been difficult just to sit back and emotional. I practice a simple communication process – to listen, then think, then reflect on my thinking before responding.
Listen, Think, Reflect
Interesting, though it is I have broadened my reflecting on communication at home to communication in business. I have had the good fortune to work with some very poor communicators. I remember walking out of meetings thinking “What the???” All too often I have walked out of meetings not really knowing what had happened.
These situations/ learning opportunities have taught me a lot. When I walk out thinking “I have no idea what just happened, I am usually not alone. It has not been just me feeling a little lost. It has been a frustratingly good opportunity to listen, think and reflect.
ListenListening is an important part of the communication process. To be able to hear what is being said one must listen. Wholehearted listening means listening with your senses (if appropriate – smell and touch may not be). Listening with your senses means that you are gathering evidence to create the whole picture. What does the scene look like? What does it feel like? Are there any triggers that may help you digest what has occurred? Are there any agendas? Are there any fumes flying from the person you are communicating with? Are there any flumes flying from you? Do you need to step away, think and reflect and develop your response?
Not all your thoughts should be shared. Thinking is important but it should be private until you have had time to reflect. Be kind to yourself and allow sufficient metacognition time. You would not deliver a class, or sell a product that you had not fully developed. When I apply the same thinking to my thoughts, the results are always better than if I had not.
Reflecting on your thinking is the most valuable step. Allowing yourself time to gauge your feelings about your thinking is empowering. Some will need more reflecting time than others. Not all reflecting time is the same, it is individual. To build an authentic and meaningful response, be realistic in reflection. Allow time to engage your intuition. Ensure facts, thoughts and the whole picture are available for your intuition.
Communication is a life-long lesson. Be open to the learning.