Who are you really talking to when you communicate?
The whole point of communication is to engage someone else in one of two ways being: to influence or persuade them to agree with you in some way, or to gain information from that person(s) you did not have before. Logic would tell us, if we are trying to influence someone with our opinion, or have them share valuable information with us, our goal should be to deliver our message in a way that person or group of people would best receive it. Right?
And yet, we are often guilty of talking to someone as if we were having a conversation with ourselves. Meaning, we speak in a style or manner that we are most comfortable with vs. thinking about the style that person might be more comfortable with.
I ask my question again, who are you really talking to when you communicate?
Communication is at the heart of everything we do, and the core to the success of our relationships.
However, in my experiences as a leader and trainer, I have found communication to be one of the least developed skills in the workplace. We spend far too little time thinking about whom we will be speaking with or how we need to adjust our delivery for those hearing our message. Rather, we focus most of our time on what points will have the greatest influence on those we speak with.
What do you think might happen in our relationships and with our productivity levels at work if we were to spend equally as much time thinking about WHO was going to hear our message, and HOW we should adapt it to meet their desired communication style? Think how much quicker we might come to agreements and compromises in decision-making. Think about how much more meaningful our conversations could be.
So much of the conflict and deadlock we see in the workplace could be prevented if we were to be more in tune to the communication styles of others. Unfortunately, we create our own issues and roadblocks due to poor communication habits.
I am sure many reading this article have attended some sort of personality or working style program in your career. Most of these programs teach there are four main styles of communication. I like to use a program I learned about called TEAM because it is simple to understand and really promotes the fact that we need and want all styles operating in their highest levels to have create functioning teams. TEAM stands for T-Thinker, E-Engager, A-Adventurer, and M-Mover.
I want to challenge everyone to remember that communication is a skill that needs continuous attention and refinement.
It is an art that is developed with every conversation and every interaction you have. It is something you have to always have in the forefront of your brain and it does require extra energy and focus when talking with others. We have to focus on the content of WHAT they are saying, and also train our brains to listen and watch for HOW they are speaking to us. The good news is our brains are up for the challenge! We can learn on the fly and become very strong in this area, if we choose to make it a priority! The choice is ours to decide WHO you are you talking to? Do you pay attention to listen and watch for who you are talking to?
Here are a few clues to help you decipher which communication style you might be interacting with for your future conversations.
1. Listen for the words they use. Are they feeling based words (i.e. Happy, excited, angry, frustrated, and stressed) or logic based words? This will tell you if their focus is on people (Engager or Adventurer) or facts, data, or possibly results. (Thinker, Mover)
2. What types of questions are they asking? Are they even asking questions or are they making direct statements, trying to guide the conversation themselves? (Mover) Do they ask thoughtful questions about minute details, reports, history of things, process, etc. (Thinker) Are their questions about how people are impacted or involved, and if there are opportunities for people? (Engager) Do their questions center around challenge, fun, and variety? (Adventurer) Questions are very telling as to their style and what is important to them when talking with them.
3. Watch their body language and expressions. Adventurers will tend to be very expressive in their nature, whereas Thinkers are much more reserved. Movers are quite decisive and focused on results so their body language will likely match their focus, more direct and assertive. Engagers will likely be more relaxed and open in their body language because they truly want to engage with you; unless it is a tense situation then they will tend to draw inward in their body language.
The more we focus our messages on those who will hear our messages, the better our delivery will be.
For more information on how to communicate with purpose, visit our website or contact Karrie directly to discuss bringing this program to your team!