It’s been refreshing this month to speak to a group of brand new communication students, introducing them to some concepts of human and business communication.
One that clearly struck a chord was the idea that we all bring our own world view to any form of communication; we’re heavily influenced by our own background, culture, preferences, upbringing and many other factors that colour the way we perceive information and apply its meaning to our own actions.
While not everyone has studied communication theory, I reckon most of us, at some level, understand that people are inherently different and look at things differently. But I wonder how many of us truly apply this to the way we interact with others every day.
Keeping this in mind whenever you’re speaking to someone, emailing or talking on the phone, can make a big difference to how you get your message across and absorb the true meaning of what they’re saying to you.
If we don’t do that, we risk miscommunication, confusion and frustration - and how many times have we seen that happening in a workplace or within a family!
It’s useful to remember during any communication that:
They’ll be interpreting your message through their own unique lens
Whoever you’re communicating with - a colleague, your manager, a customer, a supplier, someone in the community, a friend or family member – they’ll bring their own special set of circumstances to the interaction. Every element of your communication, verbal and non-verbal, will be triggering memories and experiences for them that will completely determine how they interpret your information.
If your communication is clear and precise, you’ll be giving them pointers that will help them comprehend your message. But if you’re vague, waffly or use overly emotive language, you’re likely to be sending them off on a tangent without even realising it.
Being aware that they’ll be interpreting your information from their own point of view can help you keep your own messages clear and to the point, expressing exactly what you need to say.
You’ll also bring your own world view
When we’re communicating, it’s pretty easy to fall into the trap in that moment of thinking the world revolves around us and that it’s all about the message we want to relay. But remember, you’re bringing your own set of cultural and other experiences to the way you convey that information.
Just being aware of this can make a huge difference to your approach. Each time you begin an interaction - whether written or verbal – and knowing you come complete with your own set of baggage, you can in that instant choose to shift your mindset and open up your vision to really see the other person and their point of view.
How many unpleasant conversations or heated emails could be defused if we just took that simple step? As I heard a wise person say recently; “communication isn’t about words, it’s about people”.
It’s about people sharing meanings, and rather than just transferring words from one person to another, great communication is understanding that the flow happens from communicator to communicator, each bringing their own experiences and negotiating a shared meaning.
Next time you write an email or make a phone call, visualise the other person and think about their likely viewpoint. You don’t need to step wholly into their shoes - you need to bring yourself to the interaction as well - but try to appreciate that you both bring your own world view.
Do this and you’ll both get a better result from the communication, while also building your own skills for the future.