Is your communication suffering because you let a story get in the way of the facts?
A friend of mine - a successful medical professional and business coach - was shocked a few weeks ago, when a client suddenly cancelled all her scheduled coaching sessions for the rest of the year.
As the emailed cancellations popped through one by one, my friend went into a tailspin. What could have happened to make this long-standing client suddenly decide to axe every remaining appointment?
Perplexed, she tried to contact the client with no response. You can probably imagine the thoughts racing through her mind. Have I done something to upset this client? What did we talk about in our last session? Why won’t she respond to me? It reached the stage where my friend was losing sleep over these questions.
Finally, she heard back from the client. The true situation was very different from the one my friend was imagining.
The client had a computer glitch which had automatically cancelled the appointments - without her even realising it. She was oblivious to all the cancellation messages, and to my friend’s mental torment. There was no problem in the coaching arrangement and the appointments were quickly reinstated.
My friend was able to laugh afterwards, but I imagine at the time it wasn’t very funny.
It reminded me of the trap many of us fall into with our communication. Something happens and we tell ourselves a story about it, which leads us to have strong feelings about the situation. That, in turn, has an effect on our physiology which leads to us speaking and acting in a certain way.
In many cases, if we took the time to stop and rewind back to the fact that started it all, we’d discover our interpretation was far from accurate, - and the issue could be quickly resolved.
Remembering to stop and check the facts before reacting is an invaluable tool in your business and personal relationships, and it’s a habit well worth cultivating.
People who are exceptional communicators know better than to react quickly and emotionally to a situation. Instead, they calmly re-asses and make sure their interpretation reflects what really happened.
Don’t let your communication go off track - or even out of control - because you’re telling yourself an inaccurate story about the facts.