Communicate with Impact
Like listening, we think that just because we open our mouths and words fall out that we know how to communicate.
We know how to get our message across. As a facilitator, take it from me – I’m not seeing it. Being able to speak so someone actually hears and is moved by what you’re saying is another level entirely.
To lift your communication game, I have a few ideas for you to try:
ONE: Be aware of the listener’s communication style in advance in order to adjust.
Do they prefer facts and data mainly, or emotion? Do they like lots of detail or big picture? Do they want to dive in and get to the point or do they prefer to speak about personal stuff first? Knowing how your listener prefers to communicate is a tricky one – especially if you’ve not communicated with them before. Asking a question at the start of the conversation can give you some hints here: “how has your week/day/morning/afternoon been? “ How they respond will tell you what to do next. Being able to adjust quickly is the key. Do the work to grow your communication flexibility.
TWO: Are you aware of the context? Has anything happened in the listener’s world to affect their level of reception to your message?
The above question will help here too, but if you can see your listener, clock their body language to get a fuller understanding. If you’re on the phone, listen for their breathing and tone to sense the emotion.
THREE: Be clear about what outcome you want to convey during the conversation and think about the best way to get there.
Knowing your listener, what’s the best way to achieve your outcome? Which questions will help the listener to think differently, to proffer information that will progress your conversation? What do you need to be aware of? Taking time to consider the best approach and plan it out enables you to rehearse in your mind that conversation, and enables you to be more present as you’re not trying to think of the questions to ask next – you’ve already done that.
FOUR: Be present
If you want your listener to be present, then so must you be. Give them all of your attention. Refer to your notes and be present to what’s going on for them. Be there with your senses and an open heart.
FIVE: If you’re not sure your message is being well received stop and find out with curiosity.
When you’ve conveyed your message but there’s a miscommunication for whatever reason don’t simply double down on getting your message across. I’m ashamed to say I’ve done this and of course it never goes well! Stop talking. Instead, seek to understand. What is happening here? Sometimes it’s not what we say but how we say it that prevents our message from being heard. Check in with empathy and curiosity: “I’ve noticed that maybe we’ve lost our thread a bit here. Where did I lose you?” “I get the feeling I’ve said something that’s affected our connection: I’m so sorry. Help me understand.” Get the connection back. Without it, your message has no hope.
Effective communication is the responsibility of both parties. When both people come together with an intention to deepen understanding, there’s a willingness to make sure that happens.