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Effective Communication is a 50-50 Deal.

By Michael Harrison

When chatting with friends I was recently reminded how important it is to be sure that we remember to be effective in our efforts to communicate. It is so easy to assume that others know what you know and spout off thinking they are on the same wavelength.

This happens all the time and sadly very few are prepared to reveal their ignorance and get clarification. You will have come across this at seminars.

I remember discussing an IT issue with a former colleague and after two hours wondering why we could not progress. The penny suddenly dropped when I realised that his understanding of a key definition was at variance with mine and if we had understood and resolved the variance earlier we would have saved two valuable hours.

It is so important to be clear on what you are trying to communicate and "listening"

Hearing and listening are two very different things. Master listening and you will perceive more.

Listening is part of the skill used in communication that we often take for granted. We are not taught to listen but we can easily fall into the trap of failing to concentrate, drawing our own conclusions too soon, hearing what we want to hear by filtering the message through our own experiences and prejudices.

We need to maintain interest with an open mind and respond to what we hear in a meaningful manner. We need to be constructive with our responses, seek clarification and contribute positively.

As we only take in 30% of what we hear so it's important to be attentive. I find I am able to listen very well on the telephone because I am less likely to interject (being an enthusiastic listener!!!) so I think carefully about what is being said before I make a response.

Questions are important to create understanding. Leading questions can be destructive, such as "don't you think it would be better if".? This can have the effect of leading the conversation where you want it to go. Strong expressions of opinion don't help in creating trust and understanding.

Effective listening should not be difficult but miscommunication is everywhere. We cannot control how the other person receives and interprets what we are saying and we don't always succeed in saying clearly what we mean, so the chances of misunderstanding are high!

To avoid misunderstandings and save time and effort someone, preferably you should take responsibility for paraphrasing what has been said so that all parties are clear on what has been agreed.

Just as we are not taught to listen there must be question on how well we are taught to write. At school I hated writing because my teachers made it too complicated. I am very numerate and followed a scientific route in my early career. I had to make myself learn the basics of writing later in life. I needed this ability for my work.

Ken Evoy of espouses much the same sentiments in his excellent tutorials. Keeping it simple seems to be the key. I hope I have got my points over clearly, if not we have another example of miscommunication.

Tip: It often needs an open mind to keep one's mouth shut.

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About the Author

Michael Harrison is an author, publisher and business consultant specialising in helping business owners and individuals to realise and release the full potential of their situation. He has helped many people to improve their business situations and advised and supported individuals to embark on new directions in their careers.


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