Ever had a phone call and after that, you can’t remember the reason for the call?
Or had a conversation but ended up with you fighting?
This is where our communication fails. The Oxford Dictionary defines communication as “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.”
Communication is a complex subject. The information may be twisted depending on our emotions, medium of communication and even the location.
Albert Mehrabian's theory on communication is one we still use today. It follows the 7-38-55 rule. It suggests that words are only a small part of the way we communicate, just 7% in fact, 38% comes down to the tone of our voice and 55%, our body language.
A listener will be more likely to believe the way something has been said than the words themselves. For example, if your partner says “there's nothing wrong!” while avoiding eye contact, closed arms and abrupt tone, you are more than likely to believe the non-verbal cues over the words themselves.
Here are some reasons why our communication can fail:
1. Failure to listen
We have so many conversations throughout the day. From simple greetings to hour-long meetings. Over this time, there will be a lot of talking and a lot of information shared plus we often have our own internal dialogue running too which makes it easy to miss conversations we have everyday. Ever had that moment when someone is talking to you and you have no idea what they have just said? These little misses are can lead us to misunderstand.
Listening intently can prevent misunderstanding. There are conversations that need us to listen more than talk. As the saying goes ‘'We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” - Epictetus. Listening to hear is such an important skill, and one that allows us to understand the conversation. That way we are able to truly communicate with the right mindset and understanding of the topic.
2. It's too fragmented
All of us interpret our world differently, based on our own beliefs and values. This is no different in the way we receive information or communicate. Text or email is a good example here, it is without tone. A group message could be sent and every person who reads it will have a different interpretation on what has been said and how. Some may think it positively, others may not. Communication fails when the explanation is vague and causes a different version of it depending on who you converse.
Try to provide complete and detailed information when communicating and then, ask for feedback, so you know you are both on the same page.
3. There's a disrespect
Respect is one of the most important things a person can have. And when having a conversation with someone it’s one of the things you should remember. We tend to withdraw from the conversation if we feel disrespected or if there is an attitude.
Always try to have a respectful conversation even if the subject matter is hard.
4. Failure to compromise
Conversations like deciding what to eat for lunch, where to go on a vacation or what you even want to watch on tv, involves compromise. If one of you is unwilling to budge and will not consider another viewpoint, there will be no progress on the matter.
Two people need to be looking for a mutual conclusion. Often, we all want the same thing but we won't budge on the way we feel or the way things are being said and therefore are unable to get to the answer. Try to talk it out and see what you can do to get to the outcome you both want.
Communication is a way of understanding each other and expressing how we are and what we want. By trying to avoid these communication mistakes, you will feel more understood and find it easier when communicating with people.
If communicating and expressing yourself is something that you struggle with, whether with a partner, at work or general day to day, let’s have a chat and get to the root of the issue.
We all deserve to feel heard and understood x
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