Your skill as a communicator has a lot to do with understanding what goes on beneath the surface of an interaction you have with another person. Each person has hidden factors – emotions, fears, conditionings, negative experiences – that affect their interactions with others, as do you. These hidden factors can have a major impact on how you interact.
It may not be possible to readily identify these hidden factors in another. However, your awareness that they exist creates a “knowing” that goes beyond the surficial aspects of an interaction, helping you to stay away from negativity or friction. Try some observing of your communications with others. See if you can develop awareness of any hidden factors that are present. Examine the hidden factors that affect your interactions with certain people. In doing so, you will develop an awareness that you did not have before and your communication skills will sharpen and grow.
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If you can read minds that is quite a talent! If you cannot, why would you think you know what another person is thinking? Communication is central to the proper functioning of organizations. Best that you develop your emotional intelligence so that, in lieu of reading minds, you can benefit from sensing the hidden and not-so-hidden cues others give you regarding what they are thinking.
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As a coach, practicing active listening is essential. I recently read an article, How the Korean Concept of ‘Nunchi’ Can Help You Listen to Your Needs. The article defines Nunchi as the act of being able to pick up on someone else’s emotions and respond in the best way possible. It goes on to advise that you practice Nunchi by actively listening to yourself, as well.
How good a listener are you, both to yourself and to others? It is a key skill in the workplace. Sure, there are many who succeed without listening. However, what kind of success are you looking for? Practicing Nunchi brings you far in dealing with others, as well as with yourself. It gives you an advantage that is well worth having.
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In my last post, I wrote about the importance of how you treat people. A recent Medium article by Benjamin P. Hardy has some interesting advice on how to interact with others: treat everyone as if they are dealing with serious challenges.
I find this advice intriguing. In order to follow it, you turn around the norms of interaction and make big assumptions, that may not be true. The power in this, however, is that you treat every person with kindness and compassion, whether their present circumstances are challenging or not. If this is the concept that gets you there, so be it.
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Knowing how you treat people is an aspect of emotional intelligence. How you communicate with others directly impacts the nature of your interactions. For example, if you treat people with respect, you may get respect in return. If you are rushed in your communications because you have things to do, others may feel disregarded. Of course, your ways of treating others may vary according to the nature of your day and the person you are interacting with.
How do you treat others? What are the values and methods of communication you employ? Do your own emotions affect how you treat others? Does how people treat you impact your communication?
Take a moment to reflect on how you treat people. Doing so can lead to better communication and less stressful interactions with others.
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We live in a world that places a high value on connection. Especially in the work world – some believe your network is everything. There is truth in this, but not the whole truth. What is your preference? How much interpersonal connection works for you?
Here are some things to consider in answering these two questions:
• Does interaction with others energize or deplete you?
• How much value does your workplace put on interpersonal connection and communication?
• In your workplace’s culture, does connection create positive or negative outcomes?
• How have interpersonal connections and communication propelled your career so far?
We are in this together for sure. How together is your choice!
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1. What “button” of yours has the situation pushed? What is the source of your defensive feeling?
2. Is it a good idea to remove yourself from the situation for a time to center and assess before you respond?
3. If another person is involved, what does your emotional intelligence tell you is the most effective way to respond to them?
4. Is the situation even worth responding to or is it more effective to walk away?
5. What is the source of your defensiveness? What are you protecting yourself from?
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There are many ways people communicate that go beyond basic verbal communication. To be in tune with others, it is crucial to “notice” these other means of communicating. What are they? People communicate in many ways – with facial gestures, body language, tone of voice, choice of words, eye contact or lack of it, posture, touch and allowing or not allowing personal space. How often do you pay attention to another person’s non-verbal communication?
Over the next week, take some time to sharpen your ability to notice both your and others’ non-verbal communication. Try to discern what is being said beyond surface verbal communications. Noticing helps you increase your understanding of yourself and the people you interact with, resulting in better decisions, more effective communication and better managing.
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Sometimes in a rush or the heat of a moment, we can forget that we have choice in how we communicate with others. A big lesson for me has been discerning the difference between response and reaction in my communications. Reaction is defined as an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. Response is a reply or an answer. The difference between the two may be subtle, but can make a huge difference.
The way I’ve come to see this is, when something provokes a reaction in me, it is best that I settle and center before I communicate. A reaction is not under my control when it is an unconsidered or emotional one. Reaction is provoked by an action or feeling. A response, in contrast, is of my own making.
Here’s an example: if someone is upset with me, a natural reaction may be to lash back defensively. However, this could escalate the conversation in ways I do not want, especially in a work situation. My reaction is caused by their heightened emotions, not what I want to do. In contrast, a response is considered and dictated by me. The next time an opportunity presents itself, try responding instead of reacting. I think you’ll see its merits.
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Do you find yourself looking down a lot – at your phone? There have been many changes in our business communication styles. How are you adjusting to them? Do they serve or hinder you as a manager?
You do have choice in how and when you communicate – exercise it. Communications styles do not have to be dictated to you. Choose the style of communication that allows you to be fully present in the moment and to communicate effectively. You may not be able to use your chosen style of communication, every time. However, you may be surprised how often you can, when you exercise your choice.
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